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Thread: Skinny Queen

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Charles Town, WV
    Posts
    306

    Default Skinny Queen

    Greetings -

    Picked up and installed a package on Saturday. Because it was a little chilly and breezy, I didn't brush off the bees from the queen cage when I removed it. After dumping in the package, I saw that I had a dead queen. A quick call and another hour driving and I had a replacement queen in hand (well, box in hand, but she was alive). I hung the new queen under an empty bar between two fully drawn combs. I usually direct release, but since this was an entirely new queen to this package, I thought it was wiser to hang. I hope that they don't bugger up the two nice combs that she's between.

    Anyway, I couple questions for the more experienced of the group:

    - The replacement queen was very thin, rather than the nice, plump queen I'm used to seeing. My hope is that she was bred, but maybe just not all that well. My assumption is that the bees will supercede her, which I won' try to interfere with, since they know what they're doing far better than I. Sounds decent?

    - The package was noticeably agitated (not mad, just buzzing all over and, if I can project... unhappy). As soon as I walked up with the new queen in my pocket (tactical error!), I started getting a LOT of attention. When I removed the one empty bar to suspend her, they boiled out and zeroed in on my pocket. By the time I made one last check to make sure she was alive, the box (and my hand) was completely covered with bees (I almost forgot to remove the cork on the candy end!). They appeared to be eager to receiver her, but as I've never seen bees trying to attack a queen in a box I decided it'd be prudent to not direct release her, as mentioned above. Anyway, within an hour, ALL the frenzied buzzing around had stopped. There was a lot of coming and going from the reduced entrance, but they looked like cleansing and orientation flights. Some bees were even working dandilions in the yard.
    - I said all that to ask this... I hung her about noon on Saturday. Rain is forecast for Wednesday. Should I wait to Thursday to check/remove the empty cage, or do it tomorrow? Or today, even? I don't know how long it usually takes for eager bees to eat the candy out.

    - The guy I bought the package from said that he's been hearing reports from all over of higher than normal mortality in 'package queens.' Anyone else hear this? I would suspect that package producers are under a lot of pressure to crank out a lot of packages due to (reported) heavy bee losses last year/over winter.

    Thanks,

    Bruce

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,559

    Default Re: Skinny Queen

    Hi Bruce,
    When a laying queen is caged, she stops egg production and skinnies up pretty quick, so the size is not telling of condition. She will start getting fatter and laying in 3 to 10 days, normally. Be positive, not all package queens are superseded, most do quite well.

    Your description of the bees behaviour when you gave them the replacement queen sounds like they have already accepted her. The timing for releasing here is up to you, she should be fine for up to 5 days, she'll get into egg laying condition with the bees giving her attention thru the cage screen. Does the candy hole in the cage have candy in it? If so, the bees will release her as they eat thru the candy.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Charles Town, WV
    Posts
    306

    Default Re: Skinny Queen

    Ray,

    Thanks. I'll certainly let her do her thing and if it turns out she's skinny because she's not busy laying, then all the better. My biggest worry was that she was a virgin or poorly mated. I'll just wait and see.

    Yes, there was candy in the cage. With all the attention she was getting, I was almost destracted to the point of not removing the cork, but thankfully remembered at the last minute. I hate to use anthropomorphisms, but that's the only way to describe their behavior before and then after I put her in there. Before there was chaos and very quickly after she was in there they were much calmer.

    She's been in there for two days at this point so I'll go ahead and release her when I get home until close to 7, if the weather is decent. She's hanging between two nice, straight combs and I'd rather they not get goobered up. Unless the reason the first one was dead in the first place is that there already was a queen in the package, they should be fine. If there was a queen loose in the package, the caged one is likely dead anyway (or will be when she's released).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Charles Town, WV
    Posts
    306

    Default Re: Skinny Queen

    Release seemed to go well. Watched her walk out onto a comb. Hopefully she wasn't one of the dozens that took flight or the one smooshed.

    Now I find ants on top of the bars. Sigh.

    Bruce

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,559

    Default Re: Skinny Queen

    Ants can be a problem for me here too. I coat my hive stand legs with high temp disc bearing grease. The ants here don't seem to want to cross the grease, so it keeps them out of my hives.

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