Queen Flew Away Today (Nov 30)
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    Birmingham, AL, USA
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    Default Queen Flew Away Today (Nov 30)

    I'm in central Alabama. I was checking my hives for honey stores and opened one of my strongest hives. Lots of bees. As I was removing the inner, I noticed the queen walking on it. I attempted to get her back on the frames and she flew away. I expected her to go down but I watched as she flew up and away.

    What are the chances she comes back? The hives are a couple blocks away and I'm back home now. I have 3 total hives now, including this one. I hate to lose all the bees that are left but this time of year, do I really have any choice but to hope she returns? Any ideas?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Grand Rapids MI USA
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    Default Re: Queen Flew Away Today (Nov 30)

    Hope for the best, expect the worst. When queens fly they do a quick orientation, thatís why you want to stand by the hive with the lid off for a while. The scent is raising off the hive and you are the landmark.

  4. #3
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    Mar 2012
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    Catskills, Delaware Cty, New York, USA
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    Default Re: Queen Flew Away Today (Nov 30)

    What rwlaw said; I learned that also.
    Proverbs 16:24

  5. #4
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: Queen Flew Away Today (Nov 30)

    Yeah, shoulda stayed put for around 15 minutes or so.

    Heard a story from one of the big names, but can't remember who, where the virgin queen flew off in an auditorium while giving a presentation. A short time later the queen flew back and landed on him. No doubt he was what the queen had oriented to. Details may be off a little, but that is they way I remember it.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Queen Flew Away Today (Nov 30)

    Now wouldn't that give a person a warm fuzzy feeling!
    Frank

  7. #6
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    Feb 2017
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    Birmingham, AL, USA
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    Default

    Thanks for the posts. I'll know what to do next time.

    Anything I can do now? I guess no way to know if she returns for a couple months when they start laying again. Sounds like I shouldn't do anything until then.

  8. #7
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    May 2011
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Queen Flew Away Today (Nov 30)

    Quote Originally Posted by aumfc View Post
    Thanks for the posts. I'll know what to do next time.

    Anything I can do now? I guess no way to know if she returns for a couple months when they start laying again. Sounds like I shouldn't do anything until then.
    I had a colony that showed up queenless this past spring. I swapped a frame with eggs from a queenright colony. They started cells but too early to have drones. I was just trying to keep them from developing laying workers so I destroyed those cells and swapped another frame with brood a week or so later. I think it was the third frame before I allowed them to complete a queen cell and mate a new queen.

    If queens were available to purchase, it would have been simpler to plop one in. Without new brood coming on line the overwintered bees would have aged out and the colony dies.
    Frank

  9. #8
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    Sep 2016
    Location
    Denver Metro Area CO, USA
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    1,992

    Default Re: Queen Flew Away Today (Nov 30)

    I have cerntily had many come back to the hive.

    This summer I had a box of caged virgins and cover bees I was marking.. One got a way and flew off, later found her in the box

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Stockholm, NJ, USA
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    326

    Default Re: Queen Flew Away Today (Nov 30)

    Check the hive, she is probably there nice and cozy, while you are worrying mad about her.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Queen Flew Away Today (Nov 30)

    Quote Originally Posted by aumfc View Post
    I attempted to get her back on the frames and she flew away.
    When handling queens I am always conscious the occasional one may fly. Keep them calm don't chase them around. If trying to catch one by the wings but she is runny, with thumb and forefinger pin her down by the head and front of thorax (gently) to hold her still, then grab her wings with the other hand.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  12. #11
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    May 2012
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    DFW area, TX, USA
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    Default Re: Queen Flew Away Today (Nov 30)

    I'm in growing zone 7b, similar to your location aumfc I would guess, and have seen bees successfully requeen themselves in late November, (large hives overwinter a few drones) They may be successful this late in the year, but I would requeen with a properly raised queen for the long term.

    Bolting queens usually come back. In my limited experience, the queens flying up and away disappeared, and the queens too heavy to fly were more likely to return. That is my guess anyway. HTH
    ...We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are...

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Queen Flew Away Today (Nov 30)

    Which is yet another mark against meshed bottom boards, which can make the whole queen getting back in thing turn to custard.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  14. #13
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    Mar 2013
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    Seattle WA
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    1,202

    Default Re: Queen Flew Away Today (Nov 30)

    I have had a queen fly away on 3 separate occasions and the next day, all three were back where they came from. It is not a lot of experience with the issue but I don't worry about it too much based on these experiences.

  15. #14
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    Dec 2009
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    Blacksburg, VA
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    Default Re: Queen Flew Away Today (Nov 30)

    I've seen them fly back many times. It often takes just a few minutes. They are a lot more robust about orientation than we give them credit for. Of course, if the weather was bad that could interrupt their return. Good luck and let us know.

  16. #15
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Queen Flew Away Today (Nov 30)

    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Jacksonville, TX
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    12

    Default Re: Queen Flew Away Today (Nov 30)

    Quote Originally Posted by aumfc View Post
    I'm in central Alabama. I was checking my hives for honey stores and opened one of my strongest hives. Lots of bees. As I was removing the inner, I noticed the queen walking on it. I attempted to get her back on the frames and she flew away. I expected her to go down but I watched as she flew up and away.

    What are the chances she comes back? The hives are a couple blocks away and I'm back home now. I have 3 total hives now, including this one. I hate to lose all the bees that are left but this time of year, do I really have any choice but to hope she returns? Any ideas?
    Check the hive in ten days looking for larva and the queen. Any larva and eggs should be capped by then so if there are larva; she's back in the hive. This time of year she won't be laying much brood. You should have another box to place the frames in temporarily so you can check the hive box to see if she is in the bottom or on the walls. If you can't find her and there are no eggs or larva; all you can do is merge the hive with one of your other hives. Good luck.

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Albany NY
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    139

    Default

    Au contraire. Don't worry about it until you get to the time in spring where you normally start inspecting again. Either she is back and all is well or she is not and you deal with it then. I would not combine if they are in winter cluster mode and not rearing brood. It takes a while for united colonies to reorganize into one.
    In the spring if you find them queenless, put in a frame of eggs to confirm. Then follow advice above destroying cells and adding eggs until such time as new queen will get mated or order a new queen.
    In upstate NY we have colonies go queenless during winter and if caught soon enough they are fine. If let go too long they get lw or too old and dwindle. The bees not rearing brood can live longer than bees in neighboring qr colonies. We mountain camp in late winter if needed. The colonies that look as though they don't have enough honey (and so are mc'd) and don't use much sugar are flagged for early queen checks for when we can dig in. This is of course not 100% but a good starting point. Good luck!
    P.S. queens fly off and come back. Really bothersome when the most scent is calling them back to the bottom of the screen.... And some queens fly off and don't come back. Don't sweat it but check when you would normally start checking brood in your area.

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Wimer, Oregon
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    129

    Default Re: Queen Flew Away Today (Nov 30)

    ^this^
    Amibusiness gives you the best advice and answer to your question in this thread.
    DavidZ

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