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  1. #1
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    Jun 2013
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    Question Strange Queen took over - any ideas what may have happened...

    (2nd year beekeeper...)

    Ok, my single hive died out at the end of March 2013. I replaced it with a nuc in early May (mostly Carni survivor stock bees - with dark brown queen) After 1 month, the hive was doing very well so I bought a full (dark) Carni queen in early June and did a textbook split from my new hive.

    Three frames of brood and shook 2 frames into the new split, (made sure old queen was still in 1st hive and NO QUEEN CELLS ANYWHERE TO BE FOUND IN EITHER HIVE), left new hive queen-less for 24hrs, placed new queen between frames in her box for 3 days, then removed cork and carefully stuck toothpick through the candy. Two days later, I observed the new "dark" Carni queen walking around the frames like royalty.

    Here is where it gets strange, 2 weeks go by, I can't find the new queen after multiple inspections, and lo-and-behold, I see this smallish tanned/brown queen walking around like she owned the place, no dark Carni queen anywhere. The new hive now has very little brood (about 1/2 frame worth). I thoroughly inspected ALL frames, old and new hive, without a doubt, there were no queen cells at any time from when I got the nuc in early May until now (June 27).

    Some conclusions I can come up with:
    1) I shook a daughter "queen" into the new hive without realizing it, which seems far fetched...
    If this is true, then would the hive appeared to have accepted the new "dark Carniolan" queen if there was a current queen in there? After the first 24 hours mentioned above, when I went to place the new queen in the hive for the first time, there was a distinctive queen-less "roar".

    2) Not sure why new queen is smallish (like 125% of worker with uniform tan abdomen), maybe she's not mated yet??

    My goal was to add some genetic diversity to my hives, but it looks like I wasted $45 on the new Carni Queen.
    I'm hoping someone might have some insight into what might be going on here... any and all thoughts are welcome.

    Thanks,
    Mike

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Roy, Wa
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    Default Re: Strange Queen took over - any ideas what may have happened...

    You may have missed a queen cell that was just building and not noticeable after the 24 hour queenless period. The new mated queen wouldn't bother it. It developed and hatched. The new virgin you are seeing now killed the mated queen and took over.

    Sometimes a newly started cell is no more than a cell only slightly enlarged with more royal jelly than the others..not even elongated yet and covered with bees. Very easy to miss. Although it's best not to disturb them too much, anytime you have let a hive go queenless for several hours, it pays to go back a couple days later and again check for started queen cells when they will be bigger and easier to spot.
    I've seen it before in mating nucs. Virgins in/mated queens out with a day in between to prime for the new virgin. New marked virgin gets mated, returns and starts laying...all the while that queen cell I missed is getting capped and maturing....then the laying marked queen is just plain gone and an unmarked queen is in her place.
    Out smarted by a bug once again
    That's my best guess.

    Hopefully, this thread will save someone else from getting a $45.oo lesson like you just got. I'd bet you money there will be a few folks that read this thread and rush out to their hives tomorrow to check for rogue queen cells in a newly requeened hive.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mille...56954971040510
    Last edited by Lauri; 06-27-2013 at 07:52 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    Navarro county, Texas, USA
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    Default Re: Strange Queen took over - any ideas what may have happened...

    Just my 2 cents, when you added the new queen, you say "multiple inspections" , thats kind of a tender time for them. Im thinking messing with them that early into a requeening, MIGHT have made her feel uneasy and she took off, then the bees left used some fresh laid eggs to requeen. Did you find any empty queen cells? There will probably be 3 or 4 empty ones in there. This is just my guess, i have learned the hard way that when you requeen, thats enough stress on the colony AND the new queen, don't stress them out more by opening the hive up lots, using lots of smoke, and moving the hive too quick. Someone with more experience might be able to give some more insight. Good luck
    "If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn't thinking."
    - General George Patton

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Taylor County, Georgia, USA
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    655

    Default Re: Strange Queen took over - any ideas what may have happened...

    You may have missed a queen cell that was just building and not noticeable after the 24 hour queenless period. The new mated queen wouldn't bother it. It developed and hatched. The new virgin you are seeing now killed the mated queen and took over.
    Totally agree. I requeened a hive once the way you did. I left them queenless for 24 hours, checked for queen cells, tore them down. Too bad I missed one. They let my bought queen lay until theirs hatched. Then they effected her swift demise.
    Try it. What could happen?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Toledo, Ohio
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    Default Re: Strange Queen took over - any ideas what may have happened...

    Wow!, Lauri, that sounds very likely. I'll bet your right about the queen cell being started and I didn't see it. Once I placed the new queen in the hive after 24 hours queen-less, I was not looking for queen cells. DING#1

    No matter how much I read or watch on this topic, I still got bested. I guess that's why experience is so valuable, I just wish this one hadn't cost me 45 bucks...

    whiskeytripping, I knew I wasn't following common practice when I opened up the hive 2 days after revealing the candy plug, but my curiosity got the best of me (DING#2) If I had waited 1 week and done a proper inspection, I might have found the ~10 day old queen cell and taken action before she emerged at ~16 days.

    By the way, there are no empty queen cells now, maybe they've been removed by the nurse bees?

    Thank you for all the replies!!!
    Mike

  6. #6
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    Mar 2013
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    Taylor County, Georgia, USA
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    Default Re: Strange Queen took over - any ideas what may have happened...

    By the way, there are no empty queen cells now, maybe they've been removed by the nurse bees?
    They were torn down when the queen hatched. The new queen went around and stung the unhatched queens to death, then the workers carried off the bodies and tore down the cells. Bees are brutal.
    Try it. What could happen?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Strange Queen took over - any ideas what may have happened...

    Ok, now I'm 0 for 2. I bought a Virgin NWC about a week and a half ago and tried to learn from my previous mistakes. I made up a 5 frame nuc with 2 frames of brood, a frame or so of capped honey keeping a watchful eye out for queen cells, which I promptly destroyed. I marked her and kept her caged in the hive for 7 days (she likely came out on day ~8), still not good enough!! Two days straight now and no sign of her. She should be sticking out like a sore thumb (a dark carnie with a red dot in a sea of beige in a medium nuc...)

    I realize it can be difficult to get a Virgin Queen accepted, particularly when it's a different race, but if I had left her caged much longer, I risked her not getting mated within 20 days.

    I guess I just posted to lament my losses. I lost my only hive from last year in April 2013 (local survivor stock), and vowed to start an additional hive with some varied genetics to better hedge my bets. It's getting a little late in the year to try again, even to get a nuc up and running. Oh, well, there's always next year.

  8. #8
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    Dec 2011
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    Default Re: Strange Queen took over - any ideas what may have happened...

    If she was a virgin, she would be out on mating flights for a few days. So that is likely why you didn't see her.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Strange Queen took over - any ideas what may have happened...

    And virgins are almost impossible to find in a full sized hive. They are small, fast and shy. They don't look that much like a queen. They don't move like a queen. The bees around her don't act like she's a queen. She likes to hide. I have found them in the bottom corners of the hive. I have even found them hanging underneath the landing board.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Strange Queen took over - any ideas what may have happened...

    Thanks Matt and Mike,

    I'll give it a week. There is very little capped brood left and the nuc is starting to look weak. Perhaps I should place a fresh frame of brood in there (minus bees from the other hive of course...) just in case the queen I bought is still "around".

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Strange Queen took over - any ideas what may have happened...

    One other possibility, though of limited probability, is that the new queen is the beneficiary of a usurping effort. Even thoroughly "washed-out" AHB colonies tend to usurp, often very effectively. It even happens occasionally in milder races of bees, though I don't know about Carniolans.

    One thing to look for when checking for QC's is to look for a flared hexagon. The outer edge of a worker cell is flared out in preparation for making a queen cell. It usually means you are 15 1/2 days from an emerging queen, but they could come earlier. This is what Laurie is describing above - a new queen cell.

    When inspecting for QC's, brush each frame clear of bees and hold each up to the light - you may spot some hidden queen cells.

    You can avoid lots of headaches by buying overwintered nucs with the queen already accepted, or buying a whole colony (more money, but...) and split it into 2, 3, or 4 colonies later. They work out much cheaper this way, you just have to get the splits right. I use a Laidlaw queen introduction cage when introducing mated queens, which keeps my acceptance rates way up.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Strange Queen took over - any ideas what may have happened...

    I know some people say wait, but if you are sure the nuc is queenless when you make it, I just wait about 15 minutes and pop the new queen or cell in and never had any issues (in the cage of course). They know they're queenless and will accept her quick and you minimize them making any queencells. Another thing to do is to pull frames with capped brood or older open brood only and minimal eggs.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Strange Queen took over - any ideas what may have happened...

    Ok, went to give them an additional frame of brood and honey and I find SWARM CELLS in my main hive. Clearly, 5 to 7 swarm cells hanging off the bottom of a brood frame....

    Could my main hive swarm this late in the year?? I'm in NW Ohio...

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Strange Queen took over - any ideas what may have happened...

    A hive can swarm anytime it gets too crowded. You could give the possibly queenless hive a queen cell if you want...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Strange Queen took over - any ideas what may have happened...

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    A hive can swarm anytime it gets too crowded. You could give the possibly queenless hive a queen cell if you want...
    I'll do that, sounds like good advice, thanks Mike.

    I hope they don't swarm, I'm quasi-residential and don't want to alarm the neighbors. I noticed them getting tight in the hive about 2 weeks ago, so I added another super, but it must have been a few days too late.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Strange Queen took over - any ideas what may have happened...

    Depending on how many bees you have, you could split them and feed them like crazy - Cane sugar syrup or honey water and pollen substitute patties (I like the Tucson diet, and Mann Lake's top-of-the-line patties). I'd use a double 5-frame nuc, and place them over a double screen board atop a strong colony. At least that way they wont swarm on you.

    Any excess queens you should sell, if they look good. Put them in mating nucs and give them a month to see their laying pattern - they're worth more proven out, and worth a LOT more overwintered with a batch of workers!

  17. #17
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    Jun 2013
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    Default Re: Strange Queen took over - any ideas what may have happened...

    I took the whole frame with the swarm cells on it and placed it in the nuc on Friday 8/2. Checked the nuc today 8/5, one queen had emerged and killed/destroyed all the other cells (I found her and marked her).

    I checked the "main" hive thinking I must have lost 1/2 or more bees to a swarm (I don't currently have enough equipment to split) Apparently, when I removed the frame with the QC's, I removed ALL they had made.

    How many frames will a queen typically lay swarm cells on??

    I think the reason why I like working with bees is the more you think you know, the more they keep surprising you!

    In Ohio, do I need some type of additional certificate or something before I can sell bees/queens? I have limited space and can really only keep 2 hives comfortably. It appears that I'm going to have more than 2 whether I like it or not.
    Last edited by mikeshot; 08-06-2013 at 08:01 PM.

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