Unmated queen and attendants
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  1. #1
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    Feb 2007
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    Default Unmated queen and attendants

    I have a friend who bought 3 unmated queens from a local beekeeper. None of the queens had attendants and all of them died.

    A couple of questions:

    1. Does an unmated queen need attendants?

    2. Can she feed herself?

    3. What is the best way to introduce an unmated queen?

    I don't know all the details about the failure, so don't know exactly how they died. This is a beeman who has a number of colonies and has a number of years of beekeeping under his belt. But there are always things to learn.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Unmated queen and attendants

    If he was buying unmated queen locally, why not just buy cells and let them emerge in the nuc?

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Unmated queen and attendants

    Hi Steve,

    I don't know why he didn't but perhaps that would be a better option in the future. I'll mention it to him. Good idea for me too.

    My main question is to know if unmated queens need attendants and if she can feed herself.

  5. #4
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    Jan 2015
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    Default Re: Unmated queen and attendants

    I'm no help with that. I never bought a queen except my original nuc and just started grafting?raising queens this year.

    I will be following along to learn as well.

  6. #5

    Default Re: Unmated queen and attendants

    How did they die? Did he put the cages into the hives where he planned for them to be?
    I don't think any queens do well without some sort of attendant.
    If they are placed into a hive where bees can feed them, they don't need attendants inside the cage.
    If they are placed on a counter in the kitchen for a day or two....not good.
    PS the only times I tried...years ago....to introduce virgins into a hive...it never went well.
    Others seem to have good success.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Unmated queen and attendants

    I have been able to introduce virgins I raised successfully into nucs, usually. My observations are that after emerging, the new queen is very active and is able to feed herself. Even with candy and water available, their vigor declines and they are fairly lethargic after day 3. After day 4 they are dead, no matter what I seem to do. Newly emerged virgins I direct release. An older one is caged and placed in a queenless hive, the bees feed her and her strength returns after a day, she can then be released manually. If released while weak, she does not make it. Again, these are my obsevations on a limited number of virgins and my failures initially outweighed my successes.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Unmated queen and attendants

    Thanks Dan. As I mentioned I don't know the whole story. When I speak with him I just want to give a heads up on some things and learn myself. You've helped with part of my question.

    I was wondering if there are some techniques to introducing a virgin queen.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Unmated queen and attendants

    JWP
    Do they usually accept virgins if they are directly released?

  10. #9
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Unmated queen and attendants

    Username Lauri talks about running virgin queens into hives. Someone good with search might be able to dredge up those posts. I have seen reference to, the younger the better. A masking scent like cinnamon, honey bee healthy etc., has been mentioned. No personal experience.
    Frank

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Unmated queen and attendants

    Note: some of this is info from reading and some direct experience.

    The queenless hive will accept the direct released virgin if it is done shorly after she has emerged. Newly emerged queens have not developed a strong pheromone smell yet and are regarded pretty much like any other bee. That is, the other bees do not pay attention to her. I think you are safe at two days post emergence. As she gets older, the pheromones increase and other beeks recommend smoking the hive heavily to mask the scent. Personally, I did not notice a difference when I tried it both ways, but then again not much of a sample size statistically speaking. Still, the best way to requeen with a virgin is to install a ripe queen cell in the hive. Second best is to have the cell the queen emerged from and put it in the hive too. I think this is a recommendation from Lauri, but it has been awhile since I read those posts.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Unmated queen and attendants

    Thanks JWPalmer. I was wondering about her pheromones at different stages. Have you tried the release using honey on her?

    The site seems to have been down for awhile so wasn't able to answer sooner.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Unmated queen and attendants

    I went out and played with the girls when the site went down. Never tried honey. Did have a virgin die in a cage when she got covered in the honey I was feeding her. That is why I feed just candy now.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Unmated queen and attendants

    Thanks! I love to learn...

  15. #14
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    St. Charles, MO, USA
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    Default Re: Unmated queen and attendants

    Virgin queens can feed themselves. However, they must be feed royal jelly by workers within a few days or they grow weak and die, as JWPalmer has seen. Having watched the dynamics of virgin queens and worker interactions in my observation hive, I would say if you absolutely have to introduce a virgin that was more than 2 days old to a hive, the fewer bees that have complete access to her the better. If I had to do it, off hand, I would want to isolate from the main hive by placing her with emerging brood above a double screen board with an entrance for her to leave and mate. Then, Id wait until she was laying good to remove the double screen board.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Unmated queen and attendants

    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/ar...l.pone.0050150

    https://www.apidologie.org/articles/...044/m6044.html
    https://www.researchgate.net/publica...2_days_or_more

    Attendants are for shipping, most queens aren't banked with them.
    With virgins especially you don't want to introduce them with attendants in the cage. For local pick up, especially fresh out of the incubator I would not expect attendants

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Unmated queen and attendants

    Thanks for the chart msl. So it would appear if I switch to the wood cages and feed honey with a few attendants, I can keep my virgins alive longer. Cool. Work schedule often gets in the way of the bee schedule which is why I had one on the counter for four days. I can do rain and other weather related issues.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

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