Balled after Painted
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  1. #1
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    Feb 2016
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    Default Balled after Painted

    I found a queen today. Pulled her out and painted her. She was probably out of the hive for 15 to 20 minutes. Perfect paint job on back of thorax. When I put her back in, they started balling her. I pulled her back out and isolated her again. I reinserted her closer to the brood next this time. The balled her again and they fell in a ball to the bottom board. Anybody heard of this happening?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Winooski, Vermont
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    Default Re: Balled after Painted

    It happened for me once as well. I attributed it to putting her too far from the brood.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Grand Rapids MI USA
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    Default Re: Balled after Painted

    Unfortunately it sounds like the colony was on high alert and didn't recognize her, hopefully they didn't ball her fatally. Maybe smoke them down good before you put one on the frames next time.

  5. #4
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    Mar 2017
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    Dade county, Mo.
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    Default Re: Balled after Painted

    I believe the first and only queen i marked was balled. Marked her with nail polish, held her for a minute and put her back. They were all over her. Closed it up and checked the hive several days later and they were queenless with cells started. Being new i didn't realize what was going on until later.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Balled after Painted

    The bees don't recognized their queen if the fresh paint smell is too strong.
    Many of the acrylic paints including nail polish has the strong smell that the bees don't like. Often the
    smell will masked the scent of the queen that they cannot recognized her anymore. Next time I'll let the
    paint air out a bit before putting the queen back in to the hive.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    helenwood,tn.usa
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    348

    Default Re: Balled after Painted

    I've seen that happen when using one of them queen catcher / marking thing a ma jiggers. the smell of the previous queen got on her and she got balled as soon as she was released. so you might even transfer queen pheromones on your gloves or bare hands.
    first colony out of a log 1983 beekeeping about 15 years. Warning i could be an idiot. I'm from South Jersey.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    York County, VA, USA
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    503

    Default Re: Balled after Painted

    I have read suggestions to spray sugar water (with essential oils) on the bees and queen at re-installation if having problems. I have not tried this, nor have I ever painted a queen.
    "I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong." (heard often from the late David Sebree) Still making them, myself

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Hotlanta, GA
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    764

    Default Re: Balled after Painted

    Was it a newly introduced queen? Also why out of the hive for so long?
    Ask two beekeepers, get three answers

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    Covington County, Alabama, USA
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    Default Re: Balled after Painted

    Quote Originally Posted by Branman View Post
    Was it a newly introduced queen? Also why out of the hive for so long?
    No. It was the existing queen. I did an alcohol wash while she was out and the paint was drying. I checked for her today. Could not find her. Plenty of eggs for making a new one, but that is the first time that has happened to me. I did have the hive pretty riled up. It is a dearth and they are pissy right now.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Balled after Painted

    In a dearth they may not make a new queen. So watch out for that and possibly have to make a
    combine or to give them a new mated queen. A moment like this it is better if you have some
    nuc hives to provide a queen.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  12. #11
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    Feb 2016
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    Covington County, Alabama, USA
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    Default Re: Balled after Painted

    This happened AGAIN to me yesterday -- two years after I started this thread. Couldn't have had her out of the hive for more than 5 minutes. Stuck a dot of green Testors paint on her thorax, dropped her back in the brood chamber and they immediately balled and killed her. I have probably painted 50+ queens since the last time this happened to me and have had no problems.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Santa Fe, NM
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    Default Re: Balled after Painted

    Its funny I always worried about the queen not being recognized after marking because of the paint odor. We marked 18 recently that had previously been introduced into nucs and they were all accepted without issue. It would be good to hear from someone that raises a lot of queens and marks them like M. Palmer and others to see what they have to say.
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Dade county, Mo.
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    196

    Default Re: Balled after Painted

    I'm always cautious when placing her back in the hive, and like to clear the bees some with smoke and gently get her in there where there is fewer bees.
    I've found that just dropping her right in a pile of bees can startle a couple and they may have a quick response that doesn't go well.
    It doesn't take but a few extra seconds to do this and have found the alternative can be not so good every now and then.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Balled after Painted

    There is only one reason for this, her smell.

    It's either the paint, or some other smell you put onto her in the process.

    If you cannot figure the issue and solve it, you could always do a cage release after marking.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  16. #15
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    Feb 2016
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    Default Re: Balled after Painted

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    There is only one reason for this, her smell.

    It's either the paint, or some other smell you put onto her in the process.

    If you cannot figure the issue and solve it, you could always do a cage release after marking.
    If that is the case, it was the paint. I haven't had a queen in that tube since May. I don't think it was pheromone from another queen. I have painted at least 30 queens so far this year with the same Testors paint bottle. But I don't have another answer for it either. Probably the paint.

  17. #16
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Balled after Painted

    Old trick from the days beekeepers used matches rather than cigarette lighters, a beekeeper always had a matchbox that could be used in an emergency.

    A queen that needed to be introduced, or re introduced, to a hive, using a timed release, was put in an empty matchbox. The matchbox was opened just enough for a bee to put it's tongue through, and the matchbox placed in the hive, centre broodnest.

    The bees would chew the cardboard and the queen would eventually be released. No need to remove the cage, it would eventually be chewed away completely.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    England, UK
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    Default Re: Balled after Painted

    Quote Originally Posted by rwlaw View Post
    Unfortunately it sounds like the colony was on high alert and didn't recognize her ...
    I used to think balling after marking was down to the paint smell (it undoubtedly still does play some part), but on one or two occasions when I've removed a queen in order to shake bees out from a hive, then immediately replaced her - she's been instantly balled.

    Likewise, when directly introducing day-old virgins - most of the time these can simply walk into the nuc unnoticed - yet on one or two occasions guards from a tetchy Q-ve nuc have pounced on the virgin without hesitation.

    Regarding queenless colonies generally, I've noticed that after an initial period of distress, some become completely non-plussed about their condition, whereas others become extremely bad-tempered and intolerant of any 'intruders'.

    Right now I have two queenless starter-finishers on site - which are like chalk and cheese - one could be inspected in the nude (if a person was so inclined), the other needs a full bee-suit just in order to open their box.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

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