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  1. #41
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    >Michael, on packages you free release, or at least sometimes you free release. How long do you recommend the bees be with the queen if you plan on free releasing. The reason I ask is that I'm getting a package that supposedly will have been made up in the previous 24 hours. That seems like too short a time to free release.

    The mentality of a package is entirely different from an established colony. A package only needs about two hours. A package is a bunch of bees shaken together, often from different hives, who find themselves homeless and queenless. In two hours they will pretty much accept any queen. The mentality of an established colony is they are home things are fine, they figured out their queen is missing in about 2 hours and they start fanning Nasonov hoping to lead her home. They are not desperate for a queen. The have a colony with brood and eggs, they can make a queen if they need to, but they would like to get theirs back. You put a queen in a cage in and they aren't quite sure what to do. Some will want to attack her and some will want to take care of her. After a day they are probably more on the side of accepting her. But four days is a safer bet. If you are in doubt about them accepting the queen, you can always leave them in the package an extra day. You could even set the package in the hive so it gets the Nasonov smell in it, and then release them all the next day. You can leave the queen in the cage if you like, but you have to realize it almost guarantees a messed up comb. With foundation, it's usually just one messed up comb. With foundationless one messed up comb leads to another and you end up with a total mess.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  2. #42
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Clinton, Iowa
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    651

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    I read something last night that indicated masking tape will slow them down. If I plug the hole with candy an put a couple layers of masking tape over it I wonder if that would be enough.

    This package has been queenless from April 5 or 6th. Best case I get the queen in the mail tomorrow the 16th. I hope they can recover. The cluster is still intact, they're still eating some syrup... but I feel like if the queen ends up taking two weeks to start laying that they're pretty much doomed, right? It was also 20 degrees last night... hope they kept it nice and tight.

  3. #43
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Roanoke, VA
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    1,497

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Thanks Michael, that makes sense.

  4. #44
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    May 2012
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    Roanoke, VA
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    1,497

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Starting a hive from a package in a top bar is a race. If you have a window and you look in on day one you have an idea of the size of the brood nest. They start drawing comb and eventually it is very easy to see the comb. Before the first brood hatches out you can see that the number of bees has dwindled significantly. It may be the hive rebounds, but I wouldn't expect a huge booming hive this year from that package. If they build up well and make it through the winter you have done your job. Next spring they will have a queen and comb, and it will be quite different.

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Clinton, Iowa
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    651

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Quote Originally Posted by shannonswyatt View Post
    Starting a hive from a package in a top bar is a race. If you have a window and you look in on day one you have an idea of the size of the brood nest. They start drawing comb and eventually it is very easy to see the comb. Before the first brood hatches out you can see that the number of bees has dwindled significantly. It may be the hive rebounds, but I wouldn't expect a huge booming hive this year from that package. If they build up well and make it through the winter you have done your job. Next spring they will have a queen and comb, and it will be quite different.
    I've been nervous about this hive since finding the queen cage outside the cluster on the first morning after install.
    It's been an experience if nothing else.

    Thanks to everyone for the help. I will let you know how it goes.

    My brother peaked in the window this morning (hive is at his house) and said there's still what he called a "big size cluster" and remains about the size of a volleyball. He said it doesn't look like it has gotten any smaller which has been my observation everytime I looked as well (obviously there's been some attrition since installation. I commented the day I dumped them in that almost every bee was very fuzzy and just looked "young" to me.

    The one thing I will say about the package is that for three pounds... it was a heavy three pounds. I don't have any experience really to judge except for videos I've seen. But the entire cage was pretty much packed full of bees in cluster.
    Last edited by jwcarlson; 04-15-2014 at 08:26 AM.

  6. #46
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Canada BC Delta
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    436

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    I've been thinking about the behavior of this package and wondering why they would not cluster around the caged queen. There has been times that a loose queen was shaken into packages by accident and the bees become loyal to her. If that was the case they should be building comb but these ones are not. Does anyone one have experience with virgin queens accidently being shaken into a package and what was their observations? Did they build comb or not?

  7. #47
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    Feb 2014
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    Clinton, Iowa
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    651

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    When in the package they were clustered around her, but where else could they cluster really?
    When I shook them out, I dragged the queen cage through the pile of bees and heaped a pile onto the cage before hanging it. My brother checked the 3-4 hours later before it got dark and the cluster contained her cage so we thought we were OK. The first night was colder, somewhere around 30 degrees as I recall. The following morning she was well outside of the cluster with only a few bees on her cage. That's when I hand released her... for better or worse (probably worse?). But that's what my gut told me to do right then. They hadn't chewed on the plug at all. I did not notice them acting aggressively towards her either in the cage or when I released her at the bottom of the cluster. But as I stated before, I did not stick around to see what happened because I didn't want her to take off.

    I have noticed that as soon as I crack the hive at all they start fanning away, is this normal? Them trying to get their queen back?
    I started wondering if I should have put the cage back in a few days ago to see if they'd start building comb (would it still smell like a queen?).

  8. #48
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    It sounds like the queen could have gotten chilled. How did she look when you released her? was she active? Lethargic?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #49
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    Feb 2014
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    Clinton, Iowa
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    651

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    It sounds like the queen could have gotten chilled. How did she look when you released her? was she active? Lethargic?
    She seemed OK. She was crawling on the bottom of the hive towards the entrance and I put my hand down and scooped her up into it and then placed her right below the cluster then closed it up. In hindsight I probably should have seen how they reacted to her. She seemed to be moving about as normal as I'd expect. A little clumsy climbing over some of the dead bees on the bottom, though I'd expect that based on how a queen is built. If I recall she was eager to get out of the cage and kind of poked out then fluttered a few inches on her way to the bottom of the hive. She never really "flew" but she didn't just walk off of the cage/my hand.

    I did not think her movement/behavior was any different than any other queen I've seen on video moving about. I don't have a lot of base my observations on, however. When I pulled the cork the day I installed them she was quick to try to run out. I expected something under the cork to contain her and had to put my thumb over the hole pretty quickly.

    Something else that might be of use:
    The top of the syrup can had "DQ" written on it. I'm guessing that meant that the queen was dead upon original arrival to the supplier which would have been April 3rd. Assuming that's true and they popped another queen into the package on the 3rd or 4th that would have put them at only about a day and some change with that particular queen after having been shipped with another for a couple of days. I had an a guy pick this package up for me because he was already driving out to the supplier. He had six cages in the back of his car and I selected one. On of the other jars said "No Queen". I commented on that and he said, "There darn well better be one!"
    The meaning of DQ is entirely speculation on my part. They were clustered around her in the package, readily grouped up on her cage when I put her in the pile, and when my brother checked a few hours later they were clustered around her cage that night.

    What circumstances might drive a cluster to abandon the queen in the cold if she's caged? They did cluster closer to the feed and left her not just on the edge of the cluster but a full 2-3 bars away.
    Last edited by jwcarlson; 04-15-2014 at 01:33 PM.

  10. #50
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    Feb 2014
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    Clinton, Iowa
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    651

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Quote Originally Posted by Delta Bay View Post
    I've been thinking about the behavior of this package and wondering why they would not cluster around the caged queen. There has been times that a loose queen was shaken into packages by accident and the bees become loyal to her. If that was the case they should be building comb but these ones are not. Does anyone one have experience with virgin queens accidently being shaken into a package and what was their observations? Did they build comb or not?
    I would be VERY interested to know how they behave with a virgin queen loose in the box and if they would build comb for her. If there were a loose queen is it possible that they balled the one I hand released and the virgin took off for a mating flight the next day (there is certainly nothing to mate with around here just yet)? It was warmer a couple days after install and was warm enough to fly the next day for sure. Looking back at the weather following Saturday afternoon install, it was highs of 57,63,66,66 (all pretty sunny and no rain) and lows each night were 25-30ish.

    I'm getting the feeling I need to at least attempt to find out if they have a loose queen in the hive before I throw another caged queen in there for them to abandon/kill. If they have been queenless for 7-10 days how should they react when the new caged queen is originally presented to the cluster? Should I observe this or wire the cage up and drop that bar in place in the middle of the cluster and hope for the best?
    Last edited by jwcarlson; 04-15-2014 at 01:57 PM.

  11. #51
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    Feb 2005
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    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    5,385

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    If they are truly queenless, when presented with the new queen, they should rush to the new queen in her cage, nasonov a great deal and act excited. If they have a queen in their midst, even a virgin, they will likely behave aggressively.

    If aggressively, the obvious difference, will be, many will be biting the cage wire, and clinging to the cage tenaciously (attempts to dislodge them will be difficult). With JZsBZs plastic cages, some will decapitate themselves in attempts to attack the queen through the cage bars. Non-aggressive behavior looks similar, but you will more easily be able to push them away from the cage, though they will quickly return. With experience, you should soon be able to discern the difference. I believe that Michael Palmer has a YouTube video that shows this behavior towards queen cages. I've linked to it for you.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  12. #52
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    Feb 2014
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    Clinton, Iowa
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    651

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Clemens View Post
    If they are truly queenless, when presented with the new queen, they should rush to the new queen in her cage, nasonov a great deal and act excited. If they have a queen in their midst, even a virgin, they will likely behave aggressively.

    If aggressively, the obvious difference, will be, many will be biting the cage wire, and clinging to the cage tenaciously (attempts to dislodge them will be difficult). With JZsBZs plastic cages, some will decapitate themselves in attempts to attack the queen through the cage bars. Non-aggressive behavior looks similar, but you will more easily be able to push them away from the cage, though they will quickly return. With experience, you should soon be able to discern the difference. I believe that Michael Palmer has a YouTube video that shows this behavior towards queen cages. I've linked to it for you.
    Thank you, Joseph. That video is exactly what I needed to see. It seems like it should be relatively obvious when introducing her weither or not they are happy to see her.

    I jokingly told my brother that they're probably so ready for a queen that when we put the new one in the cluster will explode three pounds of wax onto the floor of the hive.

    Been too much work the last couple of days to do as much research and reading as I'd like about this particular issue. The new queen will be at my house when I get home, I will be installing her tonight and I have a batch of queen candy made up to improvise a more lengthy release.

    Does anyone have experience with a hive (or package in particular) being queenless for an extended period of time? Today is day 10-11.

  13. #53
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Lexington, Kentucky, USA
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    52

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Clemens View Post
    If they are truly queenless, when presented with the new queen, they should rush to the new queen in her cage, nasonov a great deal and act excited. If they have a queen in their midst, even a virgin, they will likely behave aggressively.

    If aggressively, the obvious difference, will be, many will be biting the cage wire, and clinging to the cage tenaciously (attempts to dislodge them will be difficult). With JZsBZs plastic cages, some will decapitate themselves in attempts to attack the queen through the cage bars. Non-aggressive behavior looks similar, but you will more easily be able to push them away from the cage, though they will quickly return. With experience, you should soon be able to discern the difference. I believe that Michael Palmer has a YouTube video that shows this behavior towards queen cages. I've linked to it for you.
    So what should I do if they are acting aggressively like this? I have a situation where my queen may have been drowned, or damaged by a leaking feeder. I'm not sure she's dead, but I'm pretty sure she is damaged at a minimum. I have a new queen showing up. How should I handle this situation?

  14. #54
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    Feb 2005
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    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    5,385

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Depending on how they behave, usually if they're being aggressive, they either have a queen, or have uncontrolled laying workers that they treat as queens. If they behave strongly aggressive to the caged queen, I'd look even more carefully, to ensure they are actually queenless. If I were then absolutely certain there were no queen present, I'd add a frame of eggs from a queenright hive, if possible - to hopefully help suppress the laying workers. If not possible, ensure a long, slow, introduction via candy release - it may still fail, but at this point you have little other option, unless you can find another local beekeeper, willing to help, who can provide the comb of eggs.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  15. #55
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    Jan 2014
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    Lexington, Kentucky, USA
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    52

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Thanks! I should get the queen today or tomorrow. I'm worried that they will have eaten through most of the candy already. She was shipped 2nd day on the 14th. Due today, but the tracking doesn't show out for delivery. I called my local Post office and they don't show having received it. At this point, if I am lucky it will be tomorrow and that is the 3rd day.

    The hive is from a package introduced on Saturday, but had the flood of syrup which drowned a bunch of bees and at least partially drowned the queen. I did the only thing I could think of. I rinsed her cage lightly with regular water and pulled the cork and put her back in the hive. I assume she is dead, or at least damaged. It has been cold the last 2 days So I haven't wanted to get in there. Today is only supposed to hit 53 degrees by the time I get home. Tomorrow will be 64 which will be better.

  16. #56
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    Feb 2014
    Location
    Clinton, Iowa
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    651

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    My replacement queen arrived alive and well with four attendants. The cage had thr tube extension and candy. I added a bit more candy to the end. We introduced her to the hive. I did not notice anything aggressive like biting and the bees didn't seem hard to move from the cage. I won't say that they were overly excited... but we were also battling 30 mph winds. I noticed some short wing beats, just short thumps. It also looked like some butt shaking. My brother took video I will upload to YouTube when I get home. He thought he noticed them biting but to me it looked like they were exchanging syrup with the attendants or queen. I will post a link when I get it uploaded.

    Here is the video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-S2ULXRmI8
    The video is available in up to full HD so it should be pretty good quality.

    I covered the audio because I said the S word twice and there was plenty of wind noise. I made note that they were flipping their wings quite a bit. I did not notice much Nasonov-ing. But, it was about 55 degrees and 25-30 mph wind so bees were reluctant to move it seemed. Plus was getting somewhat dark. We peaked in window about 1.5-2 hours later for about ten seconds. All of the bees that were milling around on the floor had joined the cluster, queen cage completely inside of it, and nice and tight. Hopefully she and the workers can kick it into high gear as this package has been installed for 11 days. It will be a tough row to hoe.

    Should we peak in the window on like Friday morning just to see if the cage is empty? We are leaving town this weekend and will check on Sunday afternoon otherwise. Looks like relatively warm days coming and spring is finally taking off a bit after the last few nights in the 20s.
    Last edited by jwcarlson; 04-16-2014 at 09:01 PM.

  17. #57
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
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    363

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Looks to me like it will be a successful intro. If you ever order a package w/out a queen the first thing you will notice is the cluster is less compact than in a package w/ a queen. By the time they get through that candy she will be one of them. I'd check in three or four days and release if needed--they will probably be building comb around the cage so you will have a little mess to deal with. The sooner you deal w/ it the better the rest of the combs will be.

  18. #58
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    Jan 2014
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    Lexington, Kentucky, USA
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    52

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Thanks for all the advice so far!

    OK, so the queen will be delivered today. I checked the hive yesterday evening (just through the window). The hive is almost barren, very few bees on the front wall. Think 30 - 40. I think those bees that were left after the drowning must have drifted over to one of the other hives. I would assume the old queen is dead.

    I have noticed when checking the other hives that if I pull a loose bar, there can be a small cluster of bees on the bar without comb yet. Would it work to pull 2 or 3 of those bars from the other hives and put them in the barren hive with the new queen, or will they all just fly back to their original hive? All 4 of my hives were packages introduced on Saturday.

    The other 3 hives seem to be doing very well with large clusters near the front. The first hive cluster is probably 50% bigger than the others so I am thinking that this is where the bees from the drowned hive went.

  19. #59
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    May 2012
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    Roanoke, VA
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    1,497

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    I wouldn't give the resources from one package to another package. It is hard enough to get a package going, moving some of the bees from one to the other may not help the dwindling hive and could potentially hurt the stronger package. In the end they may bounce back. What I would worry about now is that they end up superseding the new queen. This is not uncommon in packages, and if they do supersede her it will put you back even further.

    If the first hive turns into a rock star you could move some brood in from that one hive, but don't do this until you are sure that they are doing well and have plenty of brood.

  20. #60
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    Jan 2014
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    Lexington, Kentucky, USA
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    52

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    OK. Thanks! I'll see what happens with the new queen and the few bees that may be left. I was just worried that there weren't enough bees to get the weak hive going and support the new queen that I just purchased.

    I hate throwing good money after bad!

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