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This was a head scratcher today. I looked through one of two hives in my backyard today. All indications were that it was a queenright. No sign of swarm prep or supersedure (this will be important soon.) it was the hive on the left side in the picture. So after I closed it back up I walked over to the hive on the right in the picture, and there all by herself on the 4X4 hive support was a lone queen. Just sitting there, not moving much, all by her lonesome. So I brought a frame of comb over from the previous hive that I had pulled out and got her to climb onto it, and a few bees that were on it took an interest in checking her out. Then I brought her over and set the comb on the top bars of the hive and a number of bees came over to check her out, but they were not agitated, and they did not start acting aggressively toward her.

I had no idea where she came from. Possibilities: she could’ve blown out of the hive I was inspecting; she could be from that next hive over, possibly returning from a late day mating flight, or??? What other possibilities? That’s what I tried to ask myself. I put the frame with the queen into an empty box so I could think about it. She didn’t seem agitated or intent on flying away. It has happened to me once before that when I opened a hive, a queen flew out and landed on the fence about 10 feet away, and then flew back to the hive. So I know that could’ve been a possibility.

I’d be open to any thoughts. And feedback as to what I decided to do: I put the queen and frame of honey and a frame of brood, as if I were making up a nuc, And shook some bees from that first hive into the box and closed it up. My thought is if I give them a day, I can see whether the first hive seems to be acting agitated or makes that roar associated with queenlessness. I can look for eggs in the nuc box. I can look into the second hive tomorrow and just see if they appear to have superseded. Any other thoughts appreciated. The world is a strange and wonderful place. Sorry if the photo seems to be sideways. I can’t control that.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Well no one was interested in responding to this but I will say that the queen did not belong in either of the two hives in my backyard, so I’m wondering if she might’ve gotten lost on a mating flight. Puzzling. Not often that a queen just drops out of the sky.
 

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This was a head scratcher today. ....
I'd say this - "she could’ve blown out of the hive I was inspecting;".

Why so categorically?
So I know that could’ve been a possibility.
Entirely possible one of your hives is queen-less just about now.
 

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I should start out by saying this ihas never happened to me before, and I don’t have any experience at requeening either since I’ve always let my colonies do their own thing with requeening. So I tried to reason it through as best I could and the following may be flawed but hey, that’s why I posted- to learn and to get feedback.
...Well two days later I checked and saw standing eggs in the hive that I found her next to. So that rules out the hive having been queenless and waiting for a virgin queen to come back from a mating flight. Also that hive had not been touched for several days by that point. I had not opened that hive that day. So that rules out her dropping off a frame while I was working the hive. And If the hives going to chase out a queen I don’t think they just push her out and leave her alone I think the mob her and kill her. And I just did a paper combine with the hive I’d been inspecting and they chased her out and killed her, So Pretty surely they were a queenright colony- it for sure as they could have started making replacement cell but I thought I’d take a chance since this hive is not a productive one and I had little to lose. So basically I just wasted a queen but the mystery still stands.
 

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Maybe you had two queens in one of your hives ( mother and daughter) as some superceders go this way and they ran the old queen out.
 

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.......If the hives going to chase out a queen I don’t think they just push her out and leave her alone.....
Again, why not?
Entirely possible.
Everything is possible.

Anyways, you may have had a daughter-mother supersedere have happened.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
OK, could be. Haven’t seen any fully developed supersedure cells and I’ve been looking into the hives thoroughly, inspecting pretty much every frames every five days this year. I’m doing overkill to make up for my previous years of somewhat laissez-faire style management.(smile)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Plenty. So it’s possible that it was a queen who was up on a mating flight and maybe she got tired or got disoriented. She was hardly moving when I noticed her, who knows. Mysteries abound in beekeeping. I might end up kicking myself for not saving her,
 

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Virgin queens on mating flights are never alone as her attendants provide food, warmth and navigation. These pictures are todays and they were gearing up for mating flights. The ball of bees in the grass includes a virgin with a tattered wing. Does she look alone?😁
 

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I have seen queens all alone outside a hive. She is free to walk in and out of the hive. Had the impression they were not too impressed with her. Mostly in the fall in nucs that die over the winter. Nuc would putter along, not superceder, not two queens. Kind of like everybody was bored with each other.
 

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When a mated queen is found outside on her own, when the beekeeper is working a hive or has just worked a hive, almost invariably it's because the beekeeper dropped her.

and a few bees that were on it took an interest in checking her out. Then I brought her over and set the comb on the top bars of the hive and a number of bees came over to check her out, but they were not agitated, and they did not start acting aggressively toward her.
Sounds like the bees from the hive you just worked accepted her right back OK, my guess is that's where she came from.
 

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OT, I think Karen said she combined the nuc with the hive she thought the queen came out of and they killed her.

Karen, you did exactly the right thing until you got to the combine part. I would have waited for to five days and then checked the supposedly queenless hive for egfs before attempting to combine. Most likely was a supercedure and the old queen was being driven away once a new queen had started laying. That is the mother/daughter situation Greg mentioned.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
JW, thank you for your very helpful response. This is the kind of thing that helps me learn. i’ll do things differently if there is a next time! And to Saltybee’s response, Wow, I’m intrigued to hear that you’ve seen queens outside the hive. What is your reaction usually? Do you just assume the bees are taking care of things and trust their wisdom?
 

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OT, I think Karen said she combined the nuc with the hive she thought the queen came out of and they killed her.
Yes that had me wondering. Could be several reasons for that but not being there and seeing just what happened, I don't know which.
 

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OK well first off, these are possibilities. Because I have not seen the hive, I am only working off the information you have given, and can only make assumptions.

And second, you will be able to have a much better idea in a few more days, when you will be able to look in the hive and see by the presence or absense of eggs if it has a laying queen. If it does, then the answer is much more obvious why they killed the other queen.

But meantime, the other possibilities. I have been told more times than I can number that a hive does not have any queen cells or hatched queen cells, then when I take a look myself, I find one or more, very well concealed. So there is that possibility for your hive, or something around that. But another perhaps more likely reason could be the time lag involved, the time the queen you found was in the nuc, and how long it took the bees to chew the paper, could have enabled the parent hive to make other plans, then reject the queen you found. Another possibility is the queen was faulty.

But bottom line, I don't know. I just know there can be more than one explanation. In a few days when you check the hive again, the answer may become apparent, please update, I'll be interested in what happens. :)
 
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