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  1. #1
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    Jun 2012
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    Dallas, Texas
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    Default Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    I am currently cultivating a feral bee hive, and I'm not entirely sure about their degree of Africanization, but I'd still really like to replace the queen with a mated Italian or maybe a Carniolan Queen. Being a feral hive, I have nothing marked and no way to do so, so that makes it especially hard to find the queen. Likewise, the possible Africanization of the colony makes me extremely hesitant to stay out long enough to find the queen among the thousands. How can I go about finding the queen, killing her, and requeening the hive safely and in a manner so all my timing lines up well?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    Baker Oregon
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    2,367

    Default Re: Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    This is what I did. My hellhound queen is now sitting in my queen juice (grain alcohol) in the freezer.
    Split the hive, wait about a week, check and introduce your replacement queen to the half with out eggs. Make sure to kill any queen cells. Split the half that had the queen, and wait again. Combine the half with out eggs and again check for cells. Continue to split until you have a small enough colony that it is comfortable and easy to search out the queen and eliminate her. Than combine the remainder back.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Portland, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    240

    Default Re: Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    Quote Originally Posted by drmanhadan View Post
    I am currently cultivating a feral bee hive, and I'm not entirely sure about their degree of Africanization, but I'd still really like to replace the queen with a mated Italian or maybe a Carniolan Queen. Being a feral hive, I have nothing marked and no way to do so, so that makes it especially hard to find the queen. Likewise, the possible Africanization of the colony makes me extremely hesitant to stay out long enough to find the queen among the thousands. How can I go about finding the queen, killing her, and requeening the hive safely and in a manner so all my timing lines up well?
    Why not try trapping the feral colony using Cleo Hogans method. That way you can possibly get 4 or 5 new colonies and still have your feral colony. That way you can add whatever queen you want to your trapouts. As the feral colony gets smaller you may be able to locate the queen & make closer observations, then determining if you REALLY want to destroy that queen. Just a thought.
    Beeman
    All things may be lawful; but not all things are advantagous.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
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    3,543

    Default Re: Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    The last time I had to deal with a hive that had to be requeened, and was really unpleasant (it was not one of our hives), I ended up breaking up the 3 boxes, putting a virgin or two into each box, and putting it all back together. I can't tell you if it worked, but the hive calmed down and isn't difficult to work now.

    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
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    238

    Default Re: Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    You could also push them to swarm...that nasty old queen should take off, then you can quickly split everything or just remove the queen cells and pop in your new queen.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Jacksonville, Florida
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    1,620

    Default Re: Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    What do you mean you are cultivating a feral hive? I think it would be almost impossible to find a queen in a hive you could not remove the combs to inspect. I would do a cutout on the colony this spring once queens can be bought easily and requeen it shortly after the cutout. You can take a sample of bees and send them off to be tested. That would let you know if they are Americanized or not.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    Dallas, Texas
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    136

    Default Re: Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    I just mean that I have a hive of feral bees. Any solutions for someone who only owns one hive box (me) and cannot do splits (me)?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Jacksonville, Florida
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    1,620

    Default Re: Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    You have some time until spring. Read up on cut outs. There is also some very good videos on youtube. Lots of good info here on making splits, its not that hard you can do it. Do you know any local beekeepers that might be willing to come over one weekend and give you a hand.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    Dallas, Texas
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    Default Re: Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    I'm pretty lonesome in the beekeeping world here in dallas. I'm thinking about joining a club to get advice regularly

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
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    3,843

    Default Re: Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    Do you have any spare boxes? a queen excluder? You have not yet said these bees are aggressive. Your feral colony could be a local beekeepers swarm and the queen might not need replaced. If you have spare equipment you could put a queen excluder on your bottom board and an empty box on top and gently bee brush your bees off onto the ground and put the brushed frames of brood in that box. The bees will come thru the excluder to cover the brood. When you are done, your queen will be on the ground in a knot of bees or at the excluder trying to get back in.

  11. #11
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    Jun 2012
    Location
    Dallas, Texas
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    136

    Default Re: Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    Thanks Vance G, that's great advice. I only have the one box, but I do have an excluder. I'm not entirely sure about their aggressiveness yet as I am a first-year beekeeper learning the ropes still.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    30

    Default Re: Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    Having only one box (I am presuming you mean just one hive body) limits your options. To find a queen in such a situation, I would try to use any frames they have filled with honey as a deterrent to try to pin the queen into fewer frames. Just locate frames that have eggs and put them on one side of the hive. Separate them with frames of honey from the other brood frames. Its far from perfect, but it gives you something to try.

    As for groups, depending on where in Dallas you are, you could check out the Collin County Hobby Beekeepers association (www.cchba.org I believe), but they just had their monthly meeting this past Monday. You could also look for a mentor here, someone whose posts you find yourself agreeing with and ask them for advice and to check your hive with you sometime.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Stillwell, KS
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    629

    Default Re: Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    Quote Originally Posted by WesternWilson View Post
    You could also push them to swarm...that nasty old queen should take off, then you can quickly split everything or just remove the queen cells and pop in your new queen.

    Ditto, good easy solution. You don't even have to split the colony.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    lafargeville ny usa
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    511

    Default Re: Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    wait for now and get ,build ,borrow or buy some more equipment. you really can not do any manageing without some more equipment. you will need also to operate more than one hive to manage the bees unless you have another keeper real close by who you can work back and forth with.. this is the voice of experience the hard way.

  15. #15
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    Jul 2006
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    Worcester County, Massachusetts
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    Default Re: Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    Ditto, good easy solution. You don't even have to split the colony.
    Unless it ends up in your neighbors house.

    Deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  16. #16
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    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
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    2,646

    Default Re: Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    if there in a box you can open , do a shake out.... and block the old queen from returning... Most of the bees will crawl back and in a day or two add a new queen.... the old one will be pretty close to where you dumped them as she can't fly well... normally a few bees will also stay with her which may make her easy to spot on the ground.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Coatesville, Pa, USA
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    822

    Default Re: Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    Can you just insert a ready queen cell into the hive if you need it to be requeened? I've read of "Oldtimer" who said he takes care of laying worker hives this way. He inserts a ripe cell into the hive and 2-3 weeks later checks for eggs and the queen. May work?!?

  18. #18
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    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    Default Re: Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    I deal with suspect queens all the time. When they get too hard to find I move the hive to a remote area and dump them all through an excluder. Then it's easy to find the queen, but you have thousands of bees in the air. If they have African genetics, there may be more than one queen floating around in there. There always seems to be a stand-by queen and one ready to swarm off.

    If you do this, make sure you move the hive about 100 feet away and put an empty box where the hive was located at to catch the bees. You can always move the hive back and switch out the boxes. The bees will go home just fine.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    Weatherford,Texas,USA
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    449

    Default Re: Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    drmanhadan
    there are several clubs around you.
    http://cchba.org/ is suppose to be a large and helpful group. If you have them in a hive and they are not beating ya up then I would let them bee and see how they perform. If they become to agressive then off with her head. I have several colonies that came out of swarms and or old barns that have been super nice bees.
    "It's better to die upon your feet than to live upon your knees!" Zapata

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
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    908

    Default Re: Finding the queen bee in a feral hive

    I'd suggest what Vance did, but "upside down". In the warm part of the morning, shake the bees into an empty TOP box with a QE over the open hive (AND a QE between the floor and the bottom board, just in case). After a while, many will go back to their ordinary bee business. The small gob of bees will be tending the queen. You might add a single empty comb in the empty box, but this might mean more bees to look through. I suggest this upside down so you don't have to lift the whole thing up all over again, risking the queen getting back into the hive from the floor as you lift the bottom box up.

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