Can't find the queen during nuc sell....
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  1. #1
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    Default Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    I'm brand new to nuc sales and had 2 picked up this afternoon. They are overwintered nucs. The buyer was from Birmingham, about 75 miles away. To be exact they are the brand new bee-havers from the Birmingham zoo.

    They overwintered in 5 over 5 nucs, and I've pulled a frame or two of brood over the past few weeks to keep them from starting swarm preps.

    I went through both nucs on Saturday and made sure everything was just right. I found both queens, and added a new frame of foundation in the center of both bottom nucs to get them to draw comb and hopefully have an easy way of finding both queens. Since the nucs had 10 frames of comb and bees, my plan was to give them 6 frames instead of five. I planned to use the remaining bees in each nuc as a queen mating split. Today was pick up day for the nucs.

    So, the first hive went about right. I put in 3 frames of capped brood, two frames of open brood and one frame of pollen and honey. I installed it in their 10 frame box and showed them the queen, etc.....

    Then I get to the next nuc. Neither hive was weak, but it's been the weaker of the two. Slower to build up. I found that queen easily Saturday. I looked, and looked, and looked and installed the frames in their 10 frame box. I looked through every frame, gently shook bees off frames into their box, that I was certain didn't have the queen on them. I put on the top and we talked a while. I went through one of my other hives just to kill time and show them more about how to do that. I then went back into their new box and went through the frames one more time, looking very closely. Still haven't found the queen.

    There were fresh eggs in the hive, one whole side of one frame, of wax drawn since Saturday was full of eggs. There was larvae in every stage from just hatched to capped. They've got multitudes young larvae in week old snow white drawn comb and no signs of even the beginnings of a queen cell. From every indication the queen is in the box. She wasn't in the nuc when I removed all the frames. I put a frame of open brood back into the nuc and left it for 20 minutes to draw any bees in the nuc to it. She wasn't riding it back to the hive.

    I advised them to leave the hive, let me check it tomorrow, and then we could either meet halfway or they could come back up later in the week to pick it up.

    So, after that very wordy story, let me ask my question...

    For those of you who sell nucs, what do you do when you can't find the queen? I'm sure the smart bet is to have more than 2 ready to sell when you sell two. I think I've also learned my lesson and next year when I sell overwintered nucs, they'll be in a 5 frame box, not packed with bees, when the customer gets here to make it easier to find the queen, but what if..?
    Last edited by Brad Bee; 04-03-2017 at 07:19 PM.
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    York County, VA, USA
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    Default Re: Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    One technique I've read about but never done is that for separating a queen from another mass of bees: staple a queen excluder to the bottom of a deep, put duct tape on the inside rim of the walls (the statement accompanying this is that bees don't like the plastic surface of the duct tape, or don't stick to it well and fall into the box easily), and shake the bees through it. The queen is left behind for all to see. Or so the statement goes. Thought I'd provide this for your consideration and the search words it provides.

    Michael
    "I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong." (heard often from the late David Sebree) Still making them, myself

  4. #3
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    Aug 2005
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    Washington County, Maine
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    Default Re: Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    The nucs I have picked up have always been closed and not something that could be inspected. I suspect different practices are regional. The nucs I have gotten had fresh eggs and young larvae, so a queen could have been made by the bees if one was needed.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    That's interesting Andrew. Maybe enough people will reply about their experience that I can see if that's common.

    Of course, you bought a box and bees. I've only bought bees from one nuc supplier and we put the frames into my box, so that's what I did today. I took 10 frames of foundation and got 5 frames of bees and gave him 5 frames of foundation. A frame swap. I guess I thought that was the norm. Me putting the bees in a cardboard nuc and them picking them up would sure be easier.
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  6. #5
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    Jul 2014
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    N.E. KY
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    Default Re: Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    I sold 6 overwintered yesterday and 5 went pretty quick. But I did have that one that was hiding. Oooh, this was at a time when i had one more guy coming and i thought he was at my house waiting while my wife entertained, so it made it more frustrating to me, thinking someone else was waiting. I looked and looked. My customer started pulling frames as well trying to look also. Which i really dont like them doing, in case they drop a frame. But after 4 times looking, i thought cant hurt.

    I even noticed a small cluster on inside box and its hard as heck to see in the box. But, What i never looked at, was a frame of foundation that i had in there to keep them busy, but only like 10 bees on it, so i never pulled it, until i was so frustrated and finally pulled it, and bingo, she was a runner. I couldve killed her i was so mad. Those are the times when its not fun at all!

    It depends if i have extras to go through. This year I almost oversold and only had 1 extra because i lost more than i thought i would.

    So, this year was a , We will find her if it takes an hour! I dont know how long it did take but it felt like a half hour. I will not let them go without either refunding their deposit or seeing the queen. We will find a queen!
    www.facebook.com/hives2honey Oxalic Vaporizers, supplement and more!!!!!! Check me out.

  7. #6
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    last year a guy came by to pick up a couple of nucs at the end of the day. daylight was waning fast and i was going back through the frames for a second time trying to spot the queen before it got too dark. as i was focused on the frame i was holding, the buyer saw a couple of bees fall off and hit the ground, and sure enough one of those was the queen.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    Do you mark your queens? Sure does make it easier to find, although the yellow and white are the two worst colors in my opinion. I prefer bubble gum pink dots on my queens for the newbees.

  9. #8
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    Dresden ,Tn 38225
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    Default Re: Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    I used to do it as you did , with the customer bringing in their equipment. I learned that it can be too time consuming and really bad when you can't find the queen after tearing it apart two or so times. I changed and started using the the cardboard nuc boxes. I usually condensed and moved them in on the day prior to pickup. I also usually have the queen marked or will mark
    Her at the transfer time. This was from 5 over 5 frame equipment. They get 5 frames of brood with maybe some honey and pollen around the edges and a bunch of bees from the over wintered nucs. I also stress that the buyer feeds after installing in their equipment or I will put in a frame of honey. Most rather feed and get the brood.

    I also have enough nucs that I can pass on one that I absolutely can't find the queen in and come back another day to find her. I always make sure I see the queen in one ready for pickup. The customer is free to open and inspect, but made aware they are going to lose some bees. So far I haven't had any want to open them up and no complaints after they get them home. Quite a bit of repeat buyers too.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    thanks for the info rookie. I'll definitely never sell any without having a few spares.

    sp, if she's out there laying on the ground, I'm gonna be as upset as you were when you mashed yours in the queen catcher.

    Ruth, yes and no. I mark them if I ever get them hemmed up. Most of mine are marked and this queen was/is marked but it's a faint white ring, not really easily visible. The bees groomed the paint off her after I marked her last year. All that's left is that faint white ring around the outside of the dot.
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    Thanks for the good advice woodyard.

    I'm thinking carboard nucs would be a good way to go in the future.
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  12. #11
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    Casey, Il, USA
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    Default Re: Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    Every nuc I ever got was put together before I got there and buttoned at dust when all bees have returned for a nighttime pickup

  13. #12
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    Suffolk Co, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    I sell mine in pre prepared cardboard nuc boxes. No frame exchange. Customers pick up without inspection.
    I make twice as many as I have sold
    so when I prepare them beforehand I can quickly skip a nuc I have trouble finding the queen in and go right to another one. Only the number for pickup a day or two later are put in cardboard, the rest stay in my wood nuc boxes. I like the insurance of
    having extra nucs around to cover the issues that always seem to arise when selling bees.

    No matter how well you prepare stuff sometimes happens, to you or to them.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    Do you mark your queens? Sure does make it easier to find, although the yellow and white are the two worst colors in my opinion. I prefer bubble gum pink dots on my queens for the newbees.
    I use a bright purple. I don't follow the year code, and purple makes her easy to find since my eyesight is not what it used to be.
    Zone 5B

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    Last time i bought a nuc, the supplier caged the queen that morning because I was driving about an hour or so headed home from visiting my daughter.

    I want to get into the bee selling business, and I have been thinking of doing that same thing: cage the queen so she won't be injured on the customers' drive home.

    I still have a lot to learn.
    -- Joe
    "Make your own decision and embrace the consequences." -- jwcarlson

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    Quote Originally Posted by lemmje View Post
    Last time i bought a nuc, the supplier caged the queen that morning because I was driving about an hour or so headed home from visiting my daughter.

    I want to get into the bee selling business, and I have been thinking of doing that same thing: cage the queen so she won't be injured on the customers' drive home.

    I still have a lot to learn.
    I have considered caging my queens in the nuc as well with a mashmellow plug. I sell topbar nucs so the comb can shimmy on a long drive back home. Had a customer tell me his nuc was building queen cells days after he installed them. I offered to replace the queen and he said no, he wanted to watch it play out. (He might have known he did something to cause her death). Some of my overwintered queens are too big to turn around in the roller cages I use, so I gave up on the idea.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    I have considered caging my queens in the nuc as well with a mashmellow plug.
    What about a push in cage for the queen? Which i think would not work with a topbar nuc, but would that provide as much security for a queen during transport?

    I feel like I am hijacking this thread, but I am wondering what folks think about securing a queen in a pushing cage while you drive her home.
    -- Joe
    "Make your own decision and embrace the consequences." -- jwcarlson

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    Hijack away, I enjoy reading other points to consider. Thanks for all the replies.

    A push in cage wouldn't hurt at all. One thing I do when moving bees is to make sure the frames are pushed hard against one wall and drive a small nail in the frame rest on each end of the hive, that way the frames can't shift. For the number of hives I have, considering I don't do any pollination, I've moved a decent amount of hives since I started and I haven't mashed a queen during transport or set up yet. I did that on the nuc they picked up last night.

    I will likely run home at lunch and check the hive for the queen again. I should at least be able to tell if they are queenless. They were awfully quiet last night. I still think she's in there.....
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    i usually push all the frames hard against one side of the nuc box and then wedge them in tight with wadded up newspaper, that way the frames can't flop around and the queen is safe.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  20. #19
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    Clinton, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Bee View Post

    For those of you who sell nucs, what do you do when you can't find the queen? I'm sure the smart bet is to have more than 2 ready to sell when you sell two. I think I've also learned my lesson and next year when I sell overwintered nucs, they'll be in a 5 frame box, not packed with bees, when the customer gets here to make it easier to find the queen, but what if..?
    Try not to get involved too much with selling nucs unless have specific customers requesting a quantity. Like to "pre-make" them in the cardboard boxes. There will usually be batches of nucs made up at a time and they will placed in the cardboard box for about a week before the customer comes and gets them (normally transferred out of smaller mating nucs and into the cardboard box). I don't spend anytime looking for queens in nucs. Do the same as I do when looking at colonies---simply look at the laying pattern. If that looks good the queen is in there and fine. After they've been transferred and sitting for awhile, normally takes a quick look at what was drawn empty comb when transferred to make sure everything is still fine and ready to be taken away.

    Have also put them into peoples equipment; they drop off the bottom, top and box with 5 frames beforehand and when nuc is looking good its transferred into their stuff. Like the cardboard boxes, give a drawn empty comb when transferring and let them sit for awhile. Quick inspection later at the empty comb tells everything you need to know and the customer can come pick up.

    I don't go thru boxes looking for queens with people. If they need that level of support I'm not the guy to buy from.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Can't find the queen during nuc sell....

    BBB says;I don't go thru boxes looking for queens with people. If they need that level of support I'm not the guy to buy from.

    Same here.A quick look for young brood is all it should take. I do transfer into their equipment and if we see the queen along the way, fine.
    54+ years 30 colonies Treat using OAV
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