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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Earlysville, Virginia USA
    Posts
    99

    Question Two queens hanging out on the outside of two hives in two days. WHY!!

    This past weekend (March 9th-10th in near Charlottesville, Virginia) I fond two queens hanging out on the outside of hives in two days. I am totally perplexed by this and would love to hear what you all think is going on. I will try to include as much info as I can.

    On Saturday around 3pm I noticed a small clump of bees hanging out on the south side of a two story nuc at the lid. After a few hours I decided to go check them out and in amongst the 30 or so bees was a nice unmarked Carni queen. I opened up the nuc (my note on outside of the nuc said that it had an unmarked queen) and it had brood of all stages including eggs and I did not spot a queen so I released her into the nuc figuring she belonged there. She slowly walked along the top bar and the bees made a great double high circle around her and fanned with great excitement. I did not see any sign of aggression. The population was low so reduced the nuc down to one story as I saw robber bees testing the reduced front entrance. I had a scrap of 2" foam on top of the hive and I moved it over to the top of another hive about 20ft away.

    On Sunday at 5:30 I was just about to head out to town and took a quick stroll through the bee yard. Darn it if I did not see another strange clump of bees on the south side of the hive that I moved the foam too. I figured that it was just the left over queen pheromones attracting bees but upon closer inspection there was yet another unmarked dark carni queen. I had to run so I quickly put her in a queen cage and slipped her in the same nuc as the saturday queen figuring that it was the same queen on the run again.

    On Monday I checked out the nuc and it was queenright with an unmarked queen so I marked both queens with unique double yellow dots and took photos of each. I looked in about 15 hives (I have 43 in this yard) around the two hives that I picked the queens off of and every one had a marked queen. So at a loss as to where she belonged I made up a new queenless nuc and put her cage in it.

    Here is a link to photos of the two that I marked...
    http://s1296.beta.photobucket.com/us...range%20queens
    #2 was the sunday queen which I caged. #1 was the one in the nuc which I think is the one I released into it on Saturday.


    Both queens I picked up were mated so I don't believe that it was a virgin on a mating flight

    As both were unmarked when i found them they could have been the same queen...

    I am wondering if it is a supersedure queen and the mother stayed in the hive and the daughter decided to take a walk....but suicide with nights below freezing and only 20 or so attendants.

    I did not see any queen cells in any of the hives I looked in and every one looked healthy

    What do you think?

    Thanks
    Ryan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,844

    Default Re: Two queens hanging out on the outside of two hives in two days. WHY!!

    I am not sure which queen is which now. Just as confused as you are, sorry.
    What I am thinking is one extra queen out from somewhere. Maybe from a neighbor small swarm.
    Anything could happen in this strange world we live in esp. the bees' world.
    Now that you have marked both queens does not matter anymore. Just put them in 2 separate nucs to raise more
    bees from. With 45 hives even if one hive queen failed they can easily replace her with many more. I made a split and notched 4 different spots so this maybe the number of queen bees should they decide to make them. Maybe one of your hives failed and that's where the extra queens came from taking with her the fewer worker bees trying to make a small swarm. Cold or hot they have no choice because better than dying inside the hive with another stronger queen in the same hive. So fight or flight is the answer. It is hard to predict what's going on in your area that I'm not familiar with.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Earlysville, Virginia USA
    Posts
    99

    Default Re: Two queens hanging out on the outside of two hives in two days. WHY!!

    Thanks Beepro,
    I think i really like bees because they seem to be constantly stretching my brain. You brought up a theory that I had not really thought of which I really like. I did have a nuc die about 75ft away from these hives a few days before. I remember noticing that there were just a scattering of dead bees but no sign of a cluster or queen which surprised me. Perhaps they had absconded and spent a few nights hanging out on other hives. If so she is one tough puppy to live that long in the cold. I make up a strong nuc for her and am most curios to see how she lays after the exposure.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,844

    Default Re: Two queens hanging out on the outside of two hives in two days. WHY!!

    Remember that bees will cluster tightly into a ball pattern if they got cold to conserve the heat. The queen is in the middle while the worker bees cluster tightly around her. The colder the temp. the tighter they cluster to generate heat up to 95+. The bigger the hive the more heat they generated. So your queen is safe surrounding by these worker bees. The cold exposure is environmental so should not affect her genetics. She should be a good laying queen if well taken care of. They have to find foods too in the day time so not many there to protect her in the day time. I think checking at the night time will give you a different perspective on how many foragers are there at the night time. Because you have so many bee hives, you can afford to build up a full hive without affecting the other hives. You should not put her in a nuc because Spring time is here. Building a full hive will let you have the honey and more bees to sell in the Fall. Just take one frame of bees from the other hive to make up this one. The other hives so strong that taking a frame away will not affect their development or survival.
    At this early in the season they swarm already. So later on the other bee hives also will be swarming when it gets hotter in the summer time. Should your queen bee turn out to be not what you want then just give them a new queen or combine into one box. I think out of 2 there is one you will like after evaluation. You should set up swarm traps too near your bee yards.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Earlysville, Virginia USA
    Posts
    99

    Default Re: Two queens hanging out on the outside of two hives in two days. WHY!!

    I don't fear the cold when she is in a hive but there were several days between when I removed the "dead" nuc and when I found her with about 30 attendants. That seems like a very small cluster to keep her warm outside a hive. I did check my notes and the deadout nuc was a headed by an unmarked carni so it all fits.

    I put her in a new nuc with about a pound and a half of bees and a frame of brood so they could cluster in an appropriate sized space. Our nights are 25-40 and our days are averaging 45-60 degrees. After I release her from her cage and they start to grow in population I will add another 5 frame deep nuc body on top and then later move them into a full sized hive as they will have the population to protect it from robbers and small hive beetles. I raise queens on a super small scale so if she is a dud she will defiantly be replaced.

    I am with you on bait hives. We are about 2-3 weeks from when swarms start in our area but I have 10 ten frame swarm traps ready to spread out when I get a chance.

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