Plumb-Fool Needs Advice
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  1. #1
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    Jun 2019
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    Default Plumb-Fool Needs Advice

    So I did the dumb-dumb thing of direct releasing a queen into the colony after a few hours of her hanging there and boy was it ugly. Now, the reason I did it was they had been without a queen by what I can estimate was a couple weeks and I had seen two swarm cells earlier, but was too afraid to off them just in case they were emergency cells. So since I wanted her laying ASAP and felt reassured by how they were warming up to her, I did the dumb-dumb of letting her out. I opened them up a week ago only to find nothing from eggs to brood but plenty of adult bees, that's why I ordered the queen. There was also no evidence of laying-workers.

    Now, I'm considering dropping the money to get another queen (and releasing her appropriately this time) but I'm worried that by the time her brood hatches, there wont be any adult bees left alive (but herself). I'm just doing some rough math, to be quite frank. So is it worth it to go ahead and buy one? I'm just wondering if they're doomed already. It may have been something like 20-30 days since they've had a laying queen. I was also reading that it might just take some time for a virgin queen to start laying eggs after she's hatched, but surely the old queen would wait for her to come back from her mating flight before absconding with half the hive?

    This is information diarrhea, I know, but my head's a mess right now.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Plumb-Fool Needs Advice

    Do you think it possible that those two cells were supercedure cells? Swarm cells are usually many more than two. The timing would be about right for there to bee a new queen in there not yet laying when you unceremoniously introduced your queen.

    Weather can delay mating considerably. I suggest you update your profile with location so advice is more relevant.
    Frank

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Plumb-Fool Needs Advice

    OK so what you need to know is this. If a hive loses it's queen, long as they have eggs, they will make a new one. Yours did, because you saw queen cells. It normally takes 10 to 14 days until these queen cells hatch, and the hive will have a virgin. So if you estimate your hive went queenless 2 weeks ago it will now have at least one virgin queen.

    Which is why they killed your mated queen.

    It will take another 2 or 3 weeks until the virgin queen is mated and starts laying eggs. Meantime they will kill any other queen you try to introduce.

    Only thing can go wrong, is that sometimes the queen has a misadventure on one of her mating flights and the hive can end up queenless. You can test that by putting a comb with eggs in the hive, and see if the bees build queen cells.

    Long as the hive has a reasonable population, no need to worry about it running out of bees before the new queens eggs start emerging as adult bees. Bees can live a lot longer then the claimed 6 weeks.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  5. #4
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    Jun 2019
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    Default Re: Plumb-Fool Needs Advice

    I'll be sure to update my information! The queen cells probably hatched a week and a half ago. I live in Northern VA and it's been raining a whole bunch up here. I'd try the eggs thing but seeing as how I'm the only bee keeper I know, I'll have to lay the eggs myself! Thanks, guys. I was mostly worried because I was told they live only 6 weeks and no eggs had been seen for a few weeks, but I guess I'll just let nature do its job. Good lesson to learn. (I've also always been trash at spotting queens).

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Plumb-Fool Needs Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by SFar View Post
    The queen cells probably hatched a week and a half ago.
    If that is the case, patience will be your best virtue, don't waste your money on a new queen at this time.

    It would be a great plan to attempt to find and meet at least one local beekeeper. An experienced person will know if your hive has a virgin queen in it or not, by opening it and seeing the bees behavior. But anyhow at this time it is too soon for your virgin queen to be mated and laying so you just got to hang on for a bit.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Plumb-Fool Needs Advice

    Thank you very much for the help, guys! What's the longest you think this could take. In other words, when should I inspect the hive to determine my weal or woe?

  8. #7
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    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: Plumb-Fool Needs Advice

    Sfar, I would give it at least another week. The weather hasn't been all that bad for mating. They typically go out in the afternoon and are back by around 4 o'clock, so the evening showers are not that big of a hindrance.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Plumb-Fool Needs Advice

    It also varies with the bee strain. Some of the dark breeds mate and lay quicker than the golden italians do.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Plumb-Fool Needs Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by SFar View Post
    So I did the dumb-dumb thing of direct releasing a queen into the colony after a few hours of her hanging there and boy was it ugly........
    Did you not see the bees' reaction to the queen?
    Seems to me you should have seen aggression towards the queen and still released her into the hostile colony.
    This is the whole point of hanging the caged queen so you can read the colony response and decide what to do.

    If you hang a queen in a cage AND they do NOT want her - you should be able to see it clearly.
    Aggression is visible.
    The bees will try break into the cage and kill the queen in the cell and it is very obvious to see.
    Typical test - you try to brush them off the cage and they would not let it go - they are biting into the cage and holding firm.

    This is a very different behavior from when the bees WANT the queen in the cage - they start tending to her.
    You can easily brush them off - no aggression is visible.
    Excitement with the queen presence is visible.

    Figure this one out for the future so not to repeat the same.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Plumb-Fool Needs Advice

    If you (or anyone) try the test that Greg explains ( and that I learned from Michael Palmer) I would advise that you do it twice. I was about to re-queen what I though was a queenless hive and placed the cage on the top bars. They came running over like expected and brushed right off the cage. I left it there for a minute while I took out a frame and when I went to install it, they were balled around the cage and being aggressive. I had a queen. So what I will do in the future is to do the test twice and leave it on for a bit longer than I have in the past. J

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Plumb-Fool Needs Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    If that is the case, patience will be your best virtue, don't waste your money on a new queen at this time.

    It would be a great plan to attempt to find and meet at least one local beekeeper. An experienced person will know if your hive has a virgin queen in it or not, by opening it and seeing the bees behavior. But anyhow at this time it is too soon for your virgin queen to be mated and laying so you just got to hang on for a bit.
    Oldtimer, would you describe the behavior when there is a virgin queen in the hive? I know it is sometimes hard to describe how the bees are reacting. I ask because I noticed a different behavior in a hive I suspect may have a virgin (or recently mated) queen. It is hard to describe but its more like a shivering than a dance and is subtle. Not all of the bees were doing it. J

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Plumb-Fool Needs Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Fivej View Post
    If you (or anyone) try the test that Greg explains.... J
    Yah; give it a bit of time (the queen in the cage is safe enough).
    Nothing wrong with hanging the cage and going away to do other things.
    In 15-20 mins you'll know what is up and can yank the queen if needed.

    Few hours?
    Gee - those bees were screaming to kill the foreign queen, I would think.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Plumb-Fool Needs Advice

    My first year, and not knowing that my bees stop brooding in October, I placed a marked Barnyard Bees queen in a hive. I dutifully watched for aggression and there did not appear to be any. I left her in the cage for a normal introduction. Several days later she had been released and was dead on the bottom. Found out later I still had my mated queen. Point is that the bees do not always show obvious aggression to a foriegn queen, but I suppose her being shut down had something to do with it.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Plumb-Fool Needs Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Fivej View Post
    Oldtimer, would you describe the behavior when there is a virgin queen in the hive? I know it is sometimes hard to describe how the bees are reacting.
    There's a couple of more obvious indicators, and then there's some subtle ones that are hard to describe. But two fairly reliable, and reasonably obvious ones, are the noise they make when given a light smoke. Queenless bees given a light puff of smoke will not move away from the smoke quite as quick, and react with a lot more fanning and more different pitched noise than one with a queen. And the other easy one is bees with a queen, even a virgin, keep a "queen space", that is, a circular patch of empty cells where you would expect brood to go, ready for the queen to lay in once she is mated. A hopelessly queenless hive will normally not have an easily defined queen space, there will be pollen and nectar randonly scattered through it, and the cells in the area will not look as cleaned and shiny.

    There are other little changes in the bees behavior that i can't figure out how to describe, other than there is what could be described as more of a calmness and purpose, to bees with a queen, than those without.

    I was lucky being an ex queen breeder, working maybe hundreds of nucs in a day, one after the other, the differences in those with a queen to those without gradually get drummed into you, even though hard to put into words.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Plumb-Fool Needs Advice

    Thanks Oldtimer. THAT cannot be taught. I need more time to be able to make those observations for sure. J

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Plumb-Fool Needs Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    ..... I dutifully watched for aggression.......
    You did what you knew.
    I would do the same, most likely.
    With small scale side operation only so much experience you can get (no rows upon rows of mating nucs to observe and compare).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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