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  1. #1
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    Question How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    Noob question: I have a laying worker colony that needs requeening (posting about that as well) and may have to pick up the queen on the day I shake out the hive. I have been told to let the bees find their way back to the original hive once they are shaken out, but to give them two days before introducing their new queen (which I expect to do very carefully, cage etc.).

    But what is the best method for keeping the new queen and her attendants alive and well during those two days? I have a nice warm laundry/furnace room to keep them in, btw.

    Thanks for the help,
    Janet

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    A laying worker hive will most likely kill the queen no matter what you do unless you give them open brood for at least two weeks (preferably three) before you introduce her.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslayingworkers.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    Thankyou for that Micheal, and I have read your page. Alas it does not address my situation, new beekeeper with a single hive. I have no brood and no hope of getting any, no other hives to give the bees to.

    This is still a big hive as it boomed in the summer. I have little to lose trying to requeen as queens are $25 and the packages I would have to buy next year if I let these girls die out are $200.

    So while I know the requeening is a tough sell to the resident ladies, I would appreciate advice on everything I can do to try and make a requeening work.

    Regards,
    Janet

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Belpre,Ohio, USA
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    Default Re: How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    Janet, Michael Bush has been at this a lot of years and is no doubt correct in his assessment however I might be able to add a suggestion here that might help you. One thing you might try is to build a push in cage for the new queen using some type of stiff wire mesh that you can bend into a 3"x 3" or larger open bottom cage with a height of about 3/4". Then remove a comb from your hive that has some open cells and honey in it and shake all the bees from it, place the queen and her attendants into this open bottom cage and press it into a part of the comb that has some honey and open cells for her to lay in, then place it back into the hive. Leave her in here until the workers outside stop tearing and biting at the cage. One word of caution, the outside bees will often start trying to dig under the comb so keep a close eye on her and perhaps they will accept her, and it might be best to shake out all the bees from the hive about 50 yards distant before inserting the queen and perhaps the laying workers will not return to the hive, you must act quickly to resolve this problem, time is of the essence.
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Winhall, VT
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    Default Re: How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    WWW gives good advice. It is risky to try and requeen but a large push in cage will give you your best hope. I would make it bigger than the one in my video.

    Raising Vermont Bees one mistake at a time.
    USDA Zone 5A

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Jacksonville, Florida
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    Default Re: How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    I keep mine in a card board box with an open top. Then keep them on top of the refrigerator, give them one drop of water each day. You want to keep them at room temp. out of drafts. Other than that there is nothing special you need to do to keep them for a day or two.

  7. #7
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    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
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    Default Re: How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    All good advice gentlemen! I have made a push in cage, and will proceed. Wish me luck, I will report back once all is done...

  8. #8
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    Dec 2010
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    Default Re: How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    MB's advice is excellent. Do the dump-out about 25 yards away and right before dark. The LW's are less likely to make it back, as they probably can't fly. Some folks dump them onto paper hoping to spot the "fat, long," laying worker(s). If you spot her, kill her. Even a suspect. She / they will be some of the last ones still hiking across the paper. Don't be afraid to repeat the dump-out process a few days later.

    The push-in cage is the best introduction method. Dr. Harry Laidlaw, Jr. recommended a 5" x 7" inside dimension x 7/8" tall push-in cage with a sheet metal strip that digs into the comb 3/8". The metal strip tends to prevent them from digging under to kill the "invading" queen. It may take more than 3 weeks before they stop balling (attacking) the intro cage, so you might even add some queen candy. The 7/8" height of the wood frame gives her a safe distance so they cannot rip off wings, legs, antennae, etc.

    Some studies also indicate that queen acceptance chances are better without attendants in the cage.

    As a last resort to get them to accept her, you could try adding Bee Boost inside the push-in cage, but I would give them plenty of opportunity to accept her first. Let her lay some brood and get her own pheromones up.

    If it were earlier in the year, I would have suggested splitting them and adding a queen to each nuc by the same method described above, but you have only one hive, and it is likely best to keep it strong for winter.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 09-08-2012 at 02:15 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    Thankyou KiloCharlie! I adapted a plumbing part...a plastic joint reducer and put a screen on one side, pushed in the other. My one concern is that I was not able to get metal screen...had to settle for soffit screening, which is plastic, so in time the bees may chew through it....should take them a while though and I hope in two days to release Her Majesty. I put the queen and her 3 ladies inside and pushed it into some comb which had some honey and pollen, sprayed some sugar water with wintergreen and vanilla around the hive and frames, and closed it up.

    Three weeks?! Ack. Wish me luck!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    Do not release her until they stop "balling" (attacking) the intro cage! You should see nurse bees trying to feed her. If they are acting aggressive toward her in any way, don't let her out!

    BTW, nice idea, the plumbing part. I thought of an electrical box, myself, but made a run of 50 Laidlaw intro cages, anyways. I sized them to fit neatly into a Miller hive-top feeder for storage.

    Oh, and of course, GOOD LUCK! We all dread LW's. Michael Palmer once wrote that he actually saw a laying worker trying to lay in a cell. It was funny - she had her wings out, trying to reach the bottom of the cell. She didn't know to fold her wings, and she wasn't long enough to reach bottom without almost going in too deep. I got a good roflmao out of that!
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 09-08-2012 at 11:55 AM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    Quote Originally Posted by kilocharlie View Post
    but made a run of 50 Laidlaw intro cages, anyways.
    What is a laidlaw cage.?

  12. #12
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    Jun 2008
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    Sacramento,California,USA
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    Default Re: How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    You might try putting a drop or two of lemongrass essential oil in the hive. I would not put more than 1 or 2 drops though. It sure does help keeping a newly caught swarm in the box, and might help in getting your queen accepted more readily.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  13. #13
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    Default Re: How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    The Laidlaw queen introduction cage is a rectangular wooden frame 7/8" (~22mm) deep that was built in several sizes, but the best was the larger one, 5" x 7" (~13mm x 18mm) inside dimension. #8 hardware cloth is stapled over the top - I staple with a thin 3/64" (1mm) strip of wood over the cloth all around the rectangle - and a strip of sheet metal 18 to 22 guage is attached to the inside surface extending down 3/8" (~11mm). I make the strip about 1" (~25mm) wide and staple it onto the inside surface. You could sand the wood to make it more "bee-friendly".

    You put the mated queen onto a flat, empty comb frame and trap her under the cage, pushing the metal strip down into the comb until the wood frame bottoms out. This prevent attacking bees from digging under the cage to kill the queen. You may need to remove one frame from the box in order to fit the frame with the intro cage "piggy-backed" on it into the box.

    The bees first perceive the introduced queen as a foreign invader, and will attack and kill her. This is called "balling", as the attacking bees form a ball over the intro cage. The Laidlaw push-in queen introduction cage allows her to start laying eggs, bringing up her pheromone production, causing them to accept her as the new queen. The bees getting re-queened should be queenless for at least 2 hours prior to introduction. Laying worker colonies usually take much longer.

    If you read the link Michael Bush put in post #2, this is the best of the push-in cage designs he mentions in option 9 for laying workers.

    To date, I know of no queen introduction system that even comes close to the Laidlaw cage for introducing mated queens, except possibly a full-comb queen introduction frame, which is basically a giant Laidlaw cage. 100% acceptance rates are common with Laidlaw cages, and if significantly lower than 100%, you either need to leave her in longer, or there is something wrong with the queen. The cage's only drawbacks are that it damages comb, and the lack of a self-release candy tube, but it was specifically designed without one. Release is controlled by the beekeeper when the balling behavior stops and the nurse bees start tending and feeding her, and not a minute sooner. Slot cages, 3-hole cages, Miller intro cages, and others with candy tubes usually hold the attacking bees off for 2 or 3 days before the candy is eaten up. That is enough with very good queens, but 5 - 9 days before release is much better for stragglers. Sometimes, acceptance occurs at 15 to 31 days. With empty worker-cell comb to lay eggs in, the push-in cage allows the new queen to begin laying. This increases her output of queen substances, especially pheromones, and the bees tend to accept her when this happens. With queens at $20 a piece, I'll take the Laidlaw cage, please!

    To me, it was a no-brainer - just build them and use them! Oh, and you can modify the size a bit to make it fit in a super, a Miller-type hive top feeder, an old drawer, a milk crate, etc. for storage.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 09-08-2012 at 02:37 PM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Fort Worth, TX, USA
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    Default Re: How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    I have never tried the Laidlaw cage but I have kept a queen alive for 5 days while making a hive ready for her introduction. I kept her on the kitchen table in my air conditioned house, under a loose cardboard box that was dark, and gave her and her attendants a drop of water a day. Temp was about 70, relatively low humidity. She lived until my hive was ready for me to introduce her to a nuc (I could not find the hot queen - finally gave up and started another hive) and is still laying and running a hive today.
    Time to be a gypsy again, 2014 will be my prep year, my bees want a better area with actual rainfall.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    Gentlemen, this has been most interesting and helpful. The cage I made is a bit small as the diameter pushed into the comb is only about 5". However, I peeked in today when I put on the hive top feeder (honey/sugar thick syrup into which I mixed a couple of drops of lemongrass oil) the bees were all over the frames, and while some were definitely checking out the queen cage, no crazy behaviour. I gave them all a light spritz of vanilla sugar water and closed it back up.

    I was not sure how to handle the queen cage as mine is too deep..about 3". So I put some free built comb I fortunately had, which also had some honey and pollen, onto a thin board. I rubber banded that at both ends to secure it to the board, pushed in the queen cage till it touched the board, and rubber banded that on for safety too. Then I laid that on top of the first deep frames, facing up...and in the box above, hung above the queen cage only half height frames, which were just the right size or nearly. This means I can take off the top cover, move one short frame and peek into the top of the queen cage. I would have put her in an empty super above the main hive where the bees had access to her and a feeder, but I was not sure it would be warm enough at night.

    This is me, learning as the wise man said, beekeeping one mistake at a time! I am keeping my fingers crossed for this lovely queen....

    One outcome here is that next year I will put into my hives some frames with no foundation to get the girls to draw out some free comb for me. It comes in handy.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    Do you have a photo of the Laidlaw cage or the process of making one? I was unable to find one. This would be a good wintertime project...

  17. #17
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    Dec 2010
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    Default Re: How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    Dr. Harry H. Laidlaw, Jr. 's book, Contemporary Queen Rearing available from Dadant and Sons, has a picture of several designs, also a picture of bees balling a queen.

    I'll go take a pic and try to post it. Oldtimer tried to teach me how to post pix using www.photobucket.com in that fantastic thread of his, Raising Queens Without Grafting. In and around Post #197, I think. Wish me luck, and yes, it is a great project, winter or a.s.a.p.

    Gypsi - now that's an achievement! Good thinking.

    Western - good, practical adaptation! Impressive, and very clever.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 09-08-2012 at 04:18 PM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    Quote Originally Posted by WesternWilson View Post
    Do you have a photo of the Laidlaw cage or the process of making one? I was unable to find one. This would be a good wintertime project...
    Photo please. It would certainly help.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    Laidlaw queen introduction cage...bear with me as I learn www.photobucket.com


    _______________________________________________
    l\................................................ ..........................\
    l.\............___________________________........ ...........\
    l..\............\++++++++++++++++++++++++\........ .........\
    l...\............\++++++++++++++++++++++++\....... ..........\
    l....\............\++++1/8" hardward cloth +++\..7"................\
    .\....\............\+++ (wire screen with open- ++\.................\
    ..\....\............\+++ ings 1/8" square) +++++++\.................\
    ...\....\............\++++++++++++++++++++++++\... .............\
    ....\....\............\++++++++++++++++++++++++\.. ..............\
    .....\....\............\__________________________ _\................\
    ......\....\.................................5"... ...................................\
    .......\....\..................................... .....................................\
    ........\....\____________________________________ __________\... ____
    .........\....l................................... .......................................l........l
    ..........\...l................................... .......................................l........l
    ...........\..l..............(Wooden Rectangle)..................................l..... .7/8"
    ............\.l................................... .......................................l........l
    .............\l___________________________________ ___________l...___l_
    .......................\xlxxxxxx(sheet metal strip)xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxl, which extends down past the bottom of the rectangle 3/8"
    ........................\l________________________ __________l, and is inserted into the comb. I staple it to the inside.

    I hope it comes out as clear as it did on my screen, and I know, I know,...learn photobucket, you lazy, technophobic newbie!
    I will post the photo asap. Apologies, Casey.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: How to keep Queen alive ahead of hiving...

    Thankyou KiloCharlie/Casey...awesome ASCII drawing!!

    I have never worked with sheet metal before...how do you cut strips? And do you just hand-bend it into place? Do you have to sand off the edges or anything? If you can put together a step by step set of directions, I am happy to tackle posting a web tutorial with photos.

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