Tips for introducing new queen (replacement) into top bar hive
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    Brisbane, Australia
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    Default Tips for introducing new queen (replacement) into top bar hive

    G'day

    I successfully split my top bar in September (start of spring here in Australia) with the bees creating a new viable/mated queen. She has been doing alright, but clearly not as well as my other queen (her mother) and the colony has simply not thrived. The chalk brood in the hive is quite prevalent (has been quite wet and humid here) and the relatively slow growth of the colony has not helped with the temp control needed to knock the chalk brood on the head.

    I've made the decision to replace this new queen with one I have ordered from a reputable breeder (a Caucasian as I can't get an Italian right now). As well as replacing a queen which seems not to be the best, bringing the new one in will have the added benefit of extending the genetics in my very small apiary (2 hives only) which I think is important for future queen creation as I don't think there are any other hives nearby and my drones may be the only ones mating a new queen that I may produce.

    Anyway - I am after tips from you all about introducing a new queen to a top bar hive successfully. I've read the various literature, but there is nothing like real time experience with the top bar hive itself.

    Appreciate your views.

    Cheers

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Geauga, Ohio
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    155

    Default Re: Tips for introducing new queen (replacement) into top bar hive

    Here is what I would do, fwiw -

    first really figure out why your new queen isnt' thriving. It's possible that there were poor genetics or she is poorly mated, but it is more likely to be a lack of stores leading to her poor performance. If it is a lack of pollen or nectar, your purchased queen will perform the same. If there isn't pollen stored up in the first combs by the entrance, and if there isn't nectar in the combs, then feeding will be important. I do not feed if there is a nectar/pollen flow - unless it is a new hive without established stores or drawn out comb. And I would feed a strong hive if it was the beginning of spring and there was a run of poor weather.

    If it is foulbrood or nosema, again your purchased queen's performance will also suffer similarly. Unfortunately, this is really hard to assess in a young queen with suboptimal stores/forage. If the brood pattern of the young queen is very spotty, that could be because she is young AND/OR because the hive is starved for protein and is consuming the youngest brood - or because the hive has foulbrood. It does show up under stress more, and symptoms will go away with an introduction of brood from a strong colony. For clues on whether this is the case, looking at your original hive is your best bet. If the brood pattern is spotty, or it is not growing quickly in numbers of capped brood with an infusion of nectar/pollen when a flow is on, more investigation would be called for.

    So, you have a new queen coming, and you have a queenright hive. I would remove the queen - but put her in a nuc, just in case the purchased queen is a dink. That does happen. If you only have 2 hives, both occupied, you should be getting a third anyways - you never know when a swarm will appear. You can turn your hive with the young queen into a 2 hive nuc - you need a bee-proof separator in the middle of the hive. If your follower has a gap below to allow bee passage, just putting a towel down will do a good enough job to keep it bee tight. The one side will have the foragers - no changing that. You get to decide what does into the other side. For temporary support of the young queen, you'll need stores, space to lay, and nurse bees. Just one bar with larvae - they hold the nurse bees, but they are costly to feed. The young queen nuc should get the majority of stores, and will need 1:1 sugar syrup and pollen supplementing. It's not my first choice, but she will not have any foragers.

    Do this soon - then you can be sure there is no queen in the forager side that is SUPPOSED to not have the queen - they will start queen cells when she is gone. They will happily tear them down when a new mated queen's smell enters the hive.

    To find a runny queen, I move one comb at a time to the rear of the hive - or even better to another box, even just a cardboard box that is the right width - and I stop when I get to the last 2 combs, if I haven't seen her. Then I take those 2 together to the destination of choice for the queen. I leave them together, check the OTHER combs carefully for the queen as I replace them, then check for eggs in 2 days or so. Sometimes I really can't find them, sometimes they are hanging out on the drone comb I want to cull and won't leave it!!!

    This is a temporary solution while the new queen proves herself - eventually one side or the other will prove to have a stronger queen and can end up with the lion's share of the foragers. You'll have about 10 days or so before the young queen side starts to have foragers - the more foragers, the more confusion when you remove the queen nuc! But they do figure it out after you close the entrance - do it in the afternoon, not too close sunset so they have some time but are motivated to find a new home with the other foragers.

    This is a more expensive but more sure way to introduce a queen. Oh, and keep your new queen in the **** cage for 3 friggin days. Or you are just too likely to lose her.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Isle of Wight, VA
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    2,164

    Default Re: Tips for introducing new queen (replacement) into top bar hive

    Since the new queen is on her way and should be arriving within a day or two, you should be able to remove the dink queen from the hive. I like the idea of putting her in a nuc, but I don't recommend picking on the resources of the failing hive to do that. If the dink it to be held for a week or two, I'd use a frame from the original mother hive to provide her just enough bees and food to squeak by for a few weeks.

    Hopefully, you have a queen clip or other means to capture the dink queen to remove her from the failing hive. Once she is gone, I like to wait at least 1 hour before adding the queen cage with the new queen in it to the hive. It gives them enough time to decide they are queenless and there is usually less aggression towards the new queen (although a small nuc or hive will accept a new queen more quickly than a larger hive will). Depending on the hive size, you can expose the candy plug to the workers, or leave the cork on a couple of days. I will use a piece of masking tape over the candy plug to add a few more days to the "chewing time", unless you don't mind getting inside your hive an extra time to pop the cork.

    If you find after 3-5 days, they still haven't released her, you need to do a comb-by-comb check to be sure they didn't make queen cells or that you have a second queen running around in there. (and also to make sure you really did remove the cork so they could get to the candy plug).

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Brisbane, Australia
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    Default Re: Tips for introducing new queen (replacement) into top bar hive

    Thanks Trish and Ruth - good advice from both of you. Luckily I have a couple of weeks to get my **** sorted as the new queen will not be ready until 4 December. One of the main reasons I feel the queen is not doing as well as one should is that my two hives are side by side and therefore experiencing exactly the same conditions, yet one is growing rapidly and the other not so much. It is definitely not failing though. It is still growing, but slowly. The bees are producing wax and some honey. They are collecting pollen also. There are plenty of stores as I did my split in September as a 50/50 and put full bars of honey in both hives. If these have been used at all then it is in a minor way that is not noticeable to me. Plenty of honey still there.

    I think what I'll do is try and whack together a top bar nuc box in the next week or two in prep for the queen arriving and place the queen I am replacing into the nuc. I can then monitor how the hive with new queen and the nuc go and make a final decision in due course as to whether the queen I have produced in September is in fact a dud or whether I should keep her after-all and make up a 3rd hive.

    One final question - where do you put the queen cage in a top bar hive. Should I put an empty bar in and hang it from that or should I ember it into a built bar? Where within the hive should it go also - in the brrod area, to the outside of the brood area or in the honey area?

    Thanks so much.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Default Re: Tips for introducing new queen (replacement) into top bar hive

    always hang the caged queen in the brood area. Since it is still spring for you, you can easily use an empty bar to hang her from. They will probably draw comb on that bar, but since it is between 2 brood combs, it will be more brood comb. (just a tip, I ALWAYS put my empty bars in the brood area to get drawn out so I get brood comb. They can fill it later with honey if I want)

    As for comparing hives, I rarely do that because it's really not an "apples to apples" comparison. One of them was set back a great deal by allowing them to raise a queen, so of course that one will be "behind" the progress of the other one. I much prefer to know the history of each hive and use that as my measurement for assessing how well a hive is doing. I've also noticed from my pollen traps in my yard that sister hives do not forage in the same areas, which can also make a difference in the progress of each hive.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Campbell River, BC, CA
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    1,263

    Default Re: Tips for introducing new queen (replacement) into top bar hive

    Quote Originally Posted by Bunyabees View Post
    G'day

    I successfully split my top bar in September (start of spring here in Australia) with the bees creating a new viable/mated queen. She has been doing alright, but clearly not as well as my other queen (her mother) and the colony has simply not thrived.
    You split in September and let them make a new queen. Early in the month, or late in the month ? It makes a big difference. From the day you did the split, they were without a laying queen for 4 weeks, and during that time the population will have been declining as bees die off due to age, it's normal. Then the new queen started to lay, but, that brood does not start emerging for another 3 weeks, so the hive will continue to decline in population, and doesn't really stop declining for 7 to 8 weeks from the time you split them. At that point, you have a much smaller cluster of bees, not able to support a full size brood nest anymore, and it takes _at least_ one more brood cycle (3 more weeks) before they are once again thriving.

    If you did the split in the first week of September, then I would not expect the colony to start growing until first week of November or therabouts. If you did that split in late September, then the colony would still not be to it's lowest point in population due to the split, there is just about now brood starting to emerge.

    A lot of folks seem to think splitting a colony and letting them raise a queen will only set the colony back by a month, but, that's just not the case, it sets them back by two months of development. The reason is, by the time they reach the state of new brood starting to emerge, the population is only half of what it was when the process started, and no longer enough to support a full sized brood nest. This can be alleviated to some extend dpending on how you did the split. If you took the old queen away to the new location, then all the foragers would return to the original hive, and it'll look very populous initially, but, will appear to decline quickly after all the brood left behind emerged, ie, about 3 weeks later.

    For a typical walk away split, it is completely normal for the colony to look unphased for the first 3 weeks after you split it, they still have brood emerging every day. It's after that period that the colony will start to appear declining, and that will last another 4 weeks, until brood laid up by the new queen starts to emerge again.

    Your new queen isn't coming for another 3 weeks, and, it's very likely that colony will finally have recovered from the split by then, and you'll be wondering why you needed a new queen.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    Brisbane, Australia
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    Default Re: Tips for introducing new queen (replacement) into top bar hive

    Thanks Ruthie and Grozzie

    The split was on 2 September and the queen confirmed as mated when I returned from holidays on 30 September, indicating the cell used to make the queen may well have had 3 or 4 day larvae in it. Yes I moved the old queen to the new hive meaning that the queenless hive had all the foragers return to it, meaning it remained strong for some time awaiting the queen being mated.

    I'll see how the hive is looking by the time I get my new queen. To put all this in context my biggest motivations for getting a new queen in are 1. in the hope that her progeny will be better at dealing with chalk brood; and 2. to bring in some new genetics into my apiary so in future I have more than one option for a genetic line from which to create new queens.

    I guess worst case I'll be setting up my third hive a bit earlier than I had initially intended - which is not all bad. I'll do this if the nuc I put the queen I am replacing into fares okay.

    Cheers

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Seattle WA
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    698

    Default Re: Tips for introducing new queen (replacement) into top bar hive

    There is an excellent thread in this forum on just this topic. It is located at: http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...roduction-tips. Since following the advice in that thread, the acceptance of new queens in my apiary has been exceptional. My only addition to the advice above (all good advice) is to be sure you try to place the queen cage between frames of emerging brood. The emerging bees never knew the old queen and will bond to the new one right away.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    Brisbane, Australia
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    Default Re: Tips for introducing new queen (replacement) into top bar hive

    Thanks dude.

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