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  1. #1
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    Default Convinced I've Lost My Queen--Not Sure What to Do!

    Hi folks,

    I'm pretty sure I've lost my queen. Last week, I had four queen cells that I fretted about. Two bars had two queen cells (a total of four queen cells on two bars) a week ago. I didn't see my queen then, and I don't think I saw any eggs, but I'm so new I'm not always sure what I'm seeing.

    Today, here's what I definitely saw:
    • 90 percent of the brood cells are empty. The edges had some capped brood.
    • I didn't see any eggs or larvae.
    • There is no more capped honey then there was last week (there is only one full bar of honey)
    • There were LOTS of drones and not many workers.
    • No visible queen (same as last week)
    • Vanished were the two queen cells last week on one bar
    • The other queen cells appeared to have an opening (I am unsure about one because of the glob of bees on the queen cell, but I think it had an opening too).
    • Did I mention LOTS of drones?


    What the heck do I do now?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Laramie, Wyoming
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    Default Re: Convinced I've Lost My Queen--Not Sure What to Do!

    Others will correct me if I am wrong and in full disclosure, I am a first year beek myself, but in the interests of getting you an answer here you go...

    Now, you wait. Continue to check for signs of a new queen. If a virgin queen emerged from one of your queen cells she will take some time to cure in the hive and then she will take about a week to go out on her mating flights. Then she will begin to lay. Continue to watch for eggs and new open brood. Check Michael Bush's website on for more information on how long it will take you to see eggs and open brood. You can find some answers at...

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmath.htm

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Convinced I've Lost My Queen--Not Sure What to Do!

    Thanks doggone. But now I have a new concern. I live in Central Texas. Should I just kill the virgin queen in case she was Africanized?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Convinced I've Lost My Queen--Not Sure What to Do!

    I live in coastal TX, and the AHB levels here are astronomical....
    #1: Your new virgin will NOT be africanized, as long as she's from a MATED queen.
    #2: Your new virgin likely will end up mating with AHB drones, this is hard to avoid unless you have a LOT of hives that you control.
    #3: Your new virgin, assuming again that she's a 1st generation daughter of a purchased, mated queen, will not be able to lay any africanized drone eggs, only potentially up to 50% africanized worker eggs; the drones receive only the mother's genetics, so you're safe in any concern about "spreading AHB drones" for this generation.
    #4: As far as the workers go, none should possibly have any more than 50% AHB genetics, and many will likely have no AHB genetics if she mated with ANY non-AHB drones. It's up to you, but if they become too aggressive for your tastes, I'd worry about re-queening then
    #5: If any of the workers in this hive start acting too aggressively, such as you would expect if she did mate with any/many AHB drones, DO NOT graft queens from her eggs, unless you plan on converting to raising AHBs. A mated queen, and her 1st generation daughters should produce manageable colonies, but the 2nd generation daughters are where the real trouble is likely to start.

    My personal recommendation: Let the first generation daughter queen serve her purpose, but plan on buying mated queens for every second generation, unless you can practice drone-flooding &/or other DCA controls on your queens' matings.


    Hope that helps,
    Rob

  5. #5
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    Laramie, Wyoming
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    Default Re: Convinced I've Lost My Queen--Not Sure What to Do!

    She was created from an egg laid by your original queen. She is of the same lineage as your original queen. The thing you cannot control is the drones she will come in contact with on her mating flights.

    I will leave that answer to others who know MUCH more about that than I do. Hopefully, others will chime in. If you find that you cannot safely get her mated without feeling like she will lay hot bees then you can still get bred queens this time of year. I'd start checking availability in your area and price range in the event that you decide to go that way.

    You'd have to be able to find your existing queen and pinch her though before introducing a mated queen to the hive. Good luck.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Convinced I've Lost My Queen--Not Sure What to Do!

    Yes, it's the drones on her mating flights that I'm afraid of. They do exist in my town. With whom they mate is anyone's guess.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Convinced I've Lost My Queen--Not Sure What to Do!

    Wow rob,

    Somehow I missed this post until just now.

    This is amazingly useful. I can't see any reason why she isn't the daughter of my mated queen, so that's good.

    Bottom line, getting a mated queen now might be a good idea but is not necessary until next year. And then, every other year.

    Or, since I have a ton of drones, would it be a good idea to get a new queen and put her in my empty hive (about 3 miles away) with some of the drones from this hive? If so, should I take some of the empty brood cells?

    Or, if I want maximum honey protection and maximum friendliness of bees, should I maybe buy a queen and put the queen and some drones in the empty hive and let the new queen stay where she is?

    Last scenario, maybe I should do the above but with two queens and pinch the virgin queen. I read Bush's Bee Math and was surprised at how long it takes to get the queen going again.

    My bees are a little hot, but I think that's because they have been queenless over a week.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Convinced I've Lost My Queen--Not Sure What to Do!

    Quote Originally Posted by KatGold View Post
    Bottom line, getting a mated queen now might be a good idea but is not necessary until next year. And then, every other year.
    Yes, that's pretty much the bottom line that I see too; except that I'm working on getting a little over a dozen hives ready for winter, all with queens of known genetic backgrounds. Hopefully, by next spring, I can eliminate the 1 known feral AHB colony in my area, and hunt for any others that may be there, so I'll be able to have a bit of control over my local DCAs (Drone Congregation Area...where the virgin queens fly to to get mated). If that works, then I'll be able to breed my own queens with less need of buying queens...so long as I keep vigilant & continue both my drone flooding, and AHB finding/eliminating, efforts. That's another option for you too, but requires a lot more than 1-2 hives, and a lot of work (probably only recommended if you're planning on making beekeeping a little more than "just a hobby").


    Or, since I have a ton of drones, would it be a good idea to get a new queen and put her in my empty hive (about 3 miles away) with some of the drones from this hive?
    From this comment, I'm guessing you, like several other new(ish) beeks I've talked to, haven't been taught the full info. on honey bee queens' matings.....
    When a virgin queen emerges from her cell, she hangs out in her parent hive for a few days to dry & harden her exoskeleton, maybe even takes a few "test flights" to strengthen her flight muscles. Then, after that, she takes off on one or more "mating flights," during which she is reportedly fertilized by up to 17 drones. When the drones mate her, the semen is stored in a special organ, called a "spermatheca," where she stores it, still viable, for the rest of her life. After this, she's a "mated queen," and I haven't heard any reports of any mated queens having ever been "re-mated."
    (If you already understood all that, then I hope you weren't offended by being told, I must simply have misunderstood your reasoning for moving the drones)


    Last scenario, maybe I should do the above but with two queens and pinch the virgin queen. I read Bush's Bee Math and was surprised at how long it takes to get the queen going again.

    My bees are a little hot, but I think that's because they have been queenless over a week.
    1: I don't think pinching the virgin will save you any time there...most of the "waiting time" for new queens is before they're fully formed & emerge from their cells. Considering that it may take 1-2 weeks to be able to get an "emergency queen" shipped to you, and it's normally no more than 2 weeks post-emergence before a virgin begins laying, at best you'd be saving yourself 1-2 days there IMHO. If you want to order a new queen to start a new hive with, that's a perfectly logical thing, but I'd wait until you have a few frames of capped brood in the hive with the new virgin; so you can move a comb or two of capped/emerging brood over to the new hive to give the ordered queen the best chance of building up successfully before winter.
    2: Your bees right now are all still from the parent queen; you won't know anything at all about the attributes of your virgin queen's brood until 3-4 weeks after she starts laying, when her brood start transitioning into hive duties...and about 6-9 weeks after she starts laying before they'll have completely taken over the hive, and you can know that whatever you're seeing is from her brood, and not from remnants of the old queen's brood.



    P.S. If your original queen was from B. Weaver, I've read a lot of reports that their daughter queens often head really mean hives. I can only guess as to why, and am not trying to slander anyone, just giving "fair warning" that others seems to be having that problem a lot.
    Last edited by robherc; 06-09-2012 at 03:15 PM. Reason: Afterthought

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Convinced I've Lost My Queen--Not Sure What to Do!

    Me? Offended? Bahhahah! No way. I ask a gazillion questions and I appreciate any and all answers.

    I basically understood what you described in your second set of comments. It's not that you misunderstood my reasoning for moving the drones, I simply didn't have a reason. I just have so many drones I figured that wasn't a good thing and thought I could make them useful somewhere else. Or really, it was just an idea and I didn't have any feeling if it was good or bad.

    I knew someone who got a queen over-nighted to him from the same company, so I assumed I'd have her by Tuesday. But he might have gotten his over-nighted because his queen arrived dead in his package.

    Maybe I should just sit on my hands and wait and expect to see some capped brood cells in a couple of weeks.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Convinced I've Lost My Queen--Not Sure What to Do!

    Sorry folks, I need to revive this old thing.

    After doing Bush's Bee Math, my plant was to inspect the hive tomorrow (Saturday) and my hopes were to see eggs or maybe larvae. Instead, here's what's I saw.

    Two days ago (Wednesday), I walked by the hive and saw what appeared to be an orientation flight. As I understand, that would mean I had new workers hatch about 3 weeks ago, right? There were so many drones last week, was surprised to see this. The last time I saw the queen was 5 weeks ago, and I first saw queen cells 2 weeks ago.

    Yesterday (Thursday) I went ahead and got into the box. I wanted to wait until Saturday, but my schedule dictated otherwise.

    First understand two things:

    1) My bees have been CRANKY for the last 2 or 3 weeks. I got stung every trip. They buzz me. They have a high-pitched buzz. They've been sort of unresponsive to smoke. It's been unpleasant.

    2) For whatever dumb reason, I just could not light my smoker yesterday. I finally gave up and figured I'd take some stings.

    Okay, so into the box I went. It appeared to me that the drone population was greatly decreased. There were more workers. I did not see eggs or larvae. I did not see the queen. I may have seen some capped brood, but there wasn't much, so it's hard to remember what it looked like last week. But I did see fresh honey and freshly capped honey. There was new wax drawn. And, the bees were VERY happy. What a difference.

    So, I'm thinking I must have a new queen. Maybe she did a mating flight and that killed off a bunch of drones. Everyone's happy again and making honey. But wouldn't that be impossible given the fact that she would have only emerged between 5 and 12 days ago?

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Convinced I've Lost My Queen--Not Sure What to Do!

    Quote Originally Posted by KatGold View Post
    Two days ago (Wednesday), I walked by the hive and saw what appeared to be an orientation flight. As I understand, that would mean I had new workers hatch about 3 weeks ago, right? There were so many drones last week, was surprised to see this. The last time I saw the queen was 5 weeks ago...
    If you had a queen 5 weeks ago, your last brood from her should have emerged about 2 weeks ago...so anytime up 'til then, yes, worker brood from the old queen would have been emerging.

    It appeared to me that the drone population was greatly decreased. There were more workers. <snip> I may have seen some capped brood, but there wasn't much<snip>. But I did see fresh honey and freshly capped honey. There was new wax drawn. And, the bees were VERY happy. What a difference.

    So, I'm thinking I must have a new queen. Maybe she did a mating flight and that killed off a bunch of drones. Everyone's happy again and making honey. But wouldn't that be impossible given the fact that she would have only emerged between 5 and 12 days ago?
    The drone population decrease may have had something to do with drones from other colonies "hanging out" while there was an un-mated queen in the hive, IMO, but I'm far from an expert on drone behaviour...really just a guess there.
    Everyone being "happy again and making honey," from my experience, seems to depend far more on the weather, pests (or, rather, absence of them) and the ready availability of nectar in blooms, than on whether a colony is queenright or not. Also, bees with no open brood in the hive do tend to be much more efficient at building stores, seeing as they really have nothing else to be doing .
    All of that said, if your new queen emerged up to 12 days ago, then she could be hardened, mated, and ready to begin laying at pretty much any minute now, which I'm guessing will cause a fairly immediate spike in her pheromone output, allowing it to "saturate" the hive & pacify any bees who were "missing their mommy." Either way, I'd leave the hive alone for the next 10 days or so, then check for brood after that. By then the brood should be nice & easy to see & the queen should be established enough to not be bothered or "damaged" to any real extent by the disturbance

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