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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Seymour, CT, USA
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    16

    Sad How do you find the queen in a large hive?

    My largest hive is ready to swarm so I decided to try and split it. Problem is, when I went in, the place is wall to wall bees, two deeps, two supers. I was in for over 30 minutes, only looked at only a fraction of the frames and really angered them. I found some eggs so I focused on that area, but found nothing. I decided to just get some swarm cells and a bunch of other frames with variety and create a walk away split. I figure the hive will still probably swarm, but I can't split anymore since I am out of equipment. Anybody have some advice for now and the future?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,291

    Default Re: How do you find the queen in a large hive?

    Practice, practice, practice.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    YANCEY CO., NC
    Posts
    634

    Default Re: How do you find the queen in a large hive?

    It's took me years before I've been able to see her and now it seems like I see her everytime I look.Just look for eggs or Larva and she should be close.Good Luck and Good Hunting

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Bunker Hill, IL
    Posts
    493

    Default Re: How do you find the queen in a large hive?

    I rarely ever take the time to look for her. I usually check for eggs and larva. if they are there I move on with the rest of my inspection. In and out as quick as possible.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Genesee County, Michigan
    Posts
    135

    Default Re: How do you find the queen in a large hive?

    I agree with everyone else; look for eggs and larva, it saves you time. I took a quick peek in my hive today, second frame I pulled had the queen. She's very easy to spot. ;]
    "Tart words make no friends; a spoonful or honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar." - Benjamin Franklin

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Stillwater, Oklahoma
    Posts
    115

    Default Re: How do you find the queen in a large hive?

    Since you already made a split, you can go back later to look for eggs to see which one has the queen. If the queen is still in the original hive and if you'd rather she be in the other position, you can just swap hive positions. The foragers will all go back to the original position and hence be separate from the queen and lessen the chance of her leaving with a swarm.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    282

    Default Re: How do you find the queen in a large hive?

    Now that you've made the split it will be easier to find her. You have less frames in the hive. Start by looking in the split and if you can rule out that she is in the split then she's in the main hive.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Arcade,NY
    Posts
    124

    Default Re: How do you find the queen in a large hive?

    if I have to find the queen I use an empty hive body with an queen excluder on top. I pick the frames I want to inspect from the mother hive to be used for my split. use another empty box to shake the bees into it. The frames you sharked the bees off go in the bottom box. smoke the bees in the top box. drones and queen will be running on the queen excluder while the other bees will be on the frames in the bottom box. it works for me all the time. I don't have to worry about missing a queen when I make a split. I know where the queen will be.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    8,961

    Default Re: How do you find the queen in a large hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dana View Post
    Since you already made a split, you can go back later to look for eggs to see which one has the queen. If the queen is still in the original hive and if you'd rather she be in the other position, you can just swap hive positions. The foragers will all go back to the original position and hence be separate from the queen and lessen the chance of her leaving with a swarm.


    I just did the same thing for the same reason as the OP only I didn't even bother to look. How long can I wait to go into the split boxes? I made two splits. I knew the foragers would go back to the original hive, part of my plan. Now I can try to find her in the other two splits but base on the activity today of the main hive I think she is still in there.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,817

    Default Re: How do you find the queen in a large hive?

    http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/man.html go to this site and read about a marburg swarm box, in the a-z index it is easy to find or a taranov swarm ramp or something like that. Both are designed for people who can't find the queen or don't wan to take the time. I am on the way to my garage to make one right now or I won't have it the day I need it.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    8,961

    Default Re: How do you find the queen in a large hive?

    I think Ray has the right approach if I could understand fully what he is doing. He is not buying anything or building anything special just using a QE like a sieve.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: How do you find the queen in a large hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    I think Ray has the right approach if I could understand fully what he is doing. He is not buying anything or building anything special just using a QE like a sieve.
    I think the simplified equation from his post is:
    Top box = all the bees that shook off the frames
    Bottom box = frames with no bees
    *apply smoke to top box*
    now Top Box = only Queen and drones
    Bottom Box = frames with all the worker bees
    Actually, seems like an insidiously simple & effective method to me...I might have to get a QE to give it a try

    (Ray, please correct me if I'm wrong & I'll re-edit this post so as not to be misleading.)
    Last edited by robherc; 04-15-2012 at 08:09 PM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Arcade,NY
    Posts
    124

    Default Re: How do you find the queen in a large hive?

    rbherc you have it right. queen excluder in the middle of two boxes. the smoke will force the other bees through the excluder down in the bottom box. if queen is on one of the frames. The excluder will trap her. put queen back in mother hive.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,241

    Default Re: How do you find the queen in a large hive?

    So, what's your procedure? Smoke the main entrance, remove inner cover...smoke. Remove super, smoke top of broodnest, and begin looking for queen, removing frames as you go and smoking the bees to keep them "calm"?

    For many beginner beekeepers, that's the plan. It's the wrong plan. Smoke makes the bees and queen run. By the time you get to the bottom box, you couldn't find the queen if she crawled up your nose.

    First, us no smoke. If you must, then just a whiff at the main entrance. You really don't need to smoke your bees out the other end of the hive.

    Remove any supers and place on upturned cover. Cover. Separate brood chamber, isolating each box and covering with cloth or extra inner, to keep dark. Look first in the box you think she may be in. The idea is to disturbe the bees and queen as little as possible so they remain at work and the queen stays where she is...laying eggs.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    8,961

    Default Re: How do you find the queen in a large hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray4852 View Post
    rbherc you have it right.
    I thought that was the plan but you said put a QE on and then later you said put the shaken bees in the bottom box. Tough to do with the QE on. So I wasn't sure exactly what you were doing.

    Remove any supers and place on upturned cover. Cover. Separate brood chamber, isolating each box and covering with cloth or extra inner, to keep dark. Look first in the box you think she may be in. The idea is to disturbe the bees and queen as little as possible so they remain at work and the queen stays where she is...laying eggs.
    I am working on this as my extended plan but in my case I didn't know where the brood chamber was. So I put a new box on each divide plus the main hive to insure the queen had room to lay no matter where she was. If I find brood in the two divides I might just move the main hive and let the foragers pick which one they want to join.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Seymour, CT, USA
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: How do you find the queen in a large hive?

    thanks for all the replies and good advice, I will give those techniques a try... Just to update you all, yesterday the hive swarmed, so I obviously didn't get the queen, BUT, they landed on a nearby bush, so I cut it out, carried it over to the new hive and had them march right in. All in all, it worked out!

    One more question... I had at least one swarm cell in the new hive, so the queen is in there with a swarm cell now. Should I cut it out, or will they take care of it?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: How do you find the queen in a large hive?

    I'd move the swarm cell frame, with all attached bees, and a frame of honey to a nuc (if you have one available)...turn 1 hive into 3; since you've already split into weaker hives that aren't likely to produce much honey this year, may as well get as many hives out of it as you reasonably can so you can have a better chance @ honey production next year!

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