New package queen rejected
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    carney, maryland, USA
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    Default New package queen rejected

    Earlier today I attempted to do a brief inspection of a package I installed in a hive on March 31. I had placed the queen cage to allow the bees to become acquainted and accept the queen, and eat the sugar plug out to release her.

    I did an brief inspection last Tuesday the 14th, while adding sugar water, and everything looked good. The queen was laying, and there was a mixture of open and capped brood.

    Today, the second frame I pulled had 4 or more queen cups. I placed the frame back thinking I would come back to it and remove the cups. I then decided I had better find that queen before removing the cups. I usually have good luck finding the queen, and I only had 14 frames (2 medium 7-frame boxes), 2 of which were essentially solid stores. After looking at all the frames TWICE, I did not find the queen.

    Being of reasonable intelligence it occurred to me that maybe these bees don't think highly of this queen, so they took her out.

    Has anyone had a similar experience?

    Phil

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    10,438

    Default Re: New package queen rejected

    Quote Originally Posted by philip.devos View Post
    Being of reasonable intelligence it occurred to me that maybe these bees don't think highly of this queen, so they took her out.
    More likely you took her out unknowingly. Do you have a screened bottom board?

    Two things.

    Check for eggs

    See if the queen cells are emergency cells (built from the bottom of a worker cell), or planned supersedure cells (built from a pre built queen cup)
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    5,210

    Default Re: New package queen rejected

    Phil, finding the queen is hit and miss for most of us. As OT points out, checking for eggs is the surest way of knowing if the hive is queenright. If you see any eggs, properly placed, you know the queen was present within the last three days. Queen cups do not mean anything unless there are larvae in them.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    St. Albans, Vermont
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    8,238

    Default Re: New package queen rejected

    Are the queen cups charged? Supercedure in package bees is quite common. Not always the queen's fault. If you think about the dynamics of a package colony...The package is shaken on Monday. Shipped out on Tuesday. You pick it up on Friday or Saturday and install. The queen is released on Monday or Tuesday. She begins to lay. Her first brood emerges 21 days later. Before that emergence, all the bees are getting old. The youngest are past the age of acceptable nurse bees. The amount of brood requiring nurses is increasing. The age of the bees in the colony is increasing. A stressful condition is created in the colony as older bees try to be nurses. The bees pick up on this stress, and who you gonna blame? The queen! So the colony supercedes about the three week time.

    To prevent this kind of supercedure, add a frame of emerging brood at about 10 days in...when you check to see if the queen is laying.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Location
    Columbia, Maryland, USA
    Posts
    178

    Default Re: New package queen rejected

    Queen supersedure is a very common occurrence in packages, especially the March ones. Remember, the queen and the bees in a package don't know each other at all. If you see eggs, you are probably fine, if you see eggs/larvae in the queen cups, not so fine. You do not have to find the queen every inspection. But if you do, next time have a bright green queen marker and marking chamber and put a big dot of lime-green paint on her back. You will be able to notice the queen from 15 feet away after that!
    USDA Hardiness Zone 7A, Hobbyist, First Hives in 2017

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    carney, maryland, USA
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    Default Re: New package queen rejected

    Thanks, all for your responses. In thinking this over, and pondering on your responses, I think I must have clumbsily killed her, or lost her during the inspection of April 14th. I have not gone back to look for eggs, and on the inspection of April 17th I did not think to look for eggs.

    At this point, I am going to assume the queen is dead, and let the bees raise a queen. I will not disturb any of the frames, and just feed them with pollen patty and 1:1 sugar water, and check in on them around the second week in May. By the look of the cups (none were completed), I would guess they some are now completely closed. My estimate of a mated queen would be around May 5-7.

    Question: If I were able to obtain a mated queen in the next 2 or 3 days, what are the chances of this colony accepting her?

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: New package queen rejected

    Philip, at this point you should have recently capped queen cells. It is important that you check to make sure you do. If so, you can leave the hive alone for three weeks to allow her to emerge, harden off, and get mated. If not, you can either introduce a mated queen or add a frame of eggs and just hatched larvae. Key is to not let the hive go LW. Once bees have a capped cell of their own, they are not inclined to accept another queen.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    carney, maryland, USA
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    Default Re: New package queen rejected

    Thanks, JW!

    I will take a look tomorrow

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    carney, maryland, USA
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    Default Re: New package queen rejected

    Update: Checked hive this morning; 2 queen cells were capped off on the same frame; these cells were at the bottom of the frame. There was another cell near the center of the same frame, not yet capped, with bees working it. At this point I did not pull any other frames to look for cups or cells. I placed the frame with the cells back in place, refilled the feeder jar with 1:1 sugar water, and closed things up.

    This year's spring has been a bit cool. Yesterday was a wonderful flying day. Today, there were no bees flying, the sky cloudy, and the temp in the low 50's. It seems like we get one good flying day, then 3 or 4 days in a row where because of rain and/or coolness, little or no flying can take place. There is plenty of pollen and nectar available, but because of this weather, I feel it necessary to feed the bees until we can get a string of warm weather.

    The one upside of this is that this weather will delay the locust and poplar bloom, which are major nectar sources.

    I don't expect to get a laying queen for maybe 20 days (about the 10th of May).

    Phil

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Holyoke, MA
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: New package queen rejected

    Phil, curious as to how you made out. It's now June 16th. Did your queen emerge, mate and start laying?

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