Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
255 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I finished transferring a newly caught swarm from a nuc into a regular medium. As I finished that one of my hives began swarming (I couldn't tell which one). I was preparing to hive the cluster. As I walked around the bee yard for a good site to put the new colony I just happened to look at one of my really strong hives to see a tight ball of bees on the top cover. I wanted to see what predator they were attacking. Looked like a wasp at first. So I wanted to get the bees off it so I could kill it. When I finally got most bees off I noticed it was a queen! Her wings were all shredded and she looked dead.

What in the world would make the bees attack a queen like this?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
11,072 Posts
Perhaps the bees that live inside the 'top cover' hive did not appreciate a 'foreign' queen sitting on their home?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
255 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Why would a foreign Queen end up there? Wouldn't she be either out mating or in the hive?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
255 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I was amazed how fast the attackers would RUN over to the ball after I knocked them off. I've never seen honeybees move so fast. It's like they were on steroids or had 5 cups of Starbucks or something.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
255 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
She is probably a virgin who got confused and didn't find her way back to the hive she flew out from...
Okay, very interesting. Always learning new things with the bees!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
255 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
I was thinking about this yesterday and it occurred to me if a virgin queen is out of her hive it means she's already went around and killed all the other queens in the hive first. So I've likely got a queenless hive now, right?

I'm not too worried about that. As long as it has eggs they will rear a new queen. I just hope the queen wasn't from the swarm I was moving or the swarm that was in process flying around. I'll have to inspect it to see if I need to add a frame of brood w/eggs from another hive.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
255 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
From what queen?
Typically when a virgin queen emerges out of her queen cell she'll go around and kill the hive's current laying queen (or get killed herself) and also kill all capped queens in their cells. Then she leaves the hive to mate. If she comes back to the hive after successfully mating she'll start laying within a couple weeks. If she got accidentally balled like mine did the hive is queenless. But hours earlier the original queen would have been laying eggs. The workers will realize their queenless state after a matter of hours and begin taking those young eggs and begin rearing queens from them.

If the queen came from a recently hived swarm I may have gotten a secondary swarm that swarmed with a virgin queen. In that case there will be no eggs in the hive. Adding a frame with eggs from another colony will give them eggs to make a new queen from.

This was all off the top of my head. If I've got any of this wrong please correct me.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
13,203 Posts
Typically when a virgin queen emerges out of her queen cell she'll go around and kill the hive's current laying queen (or get killed herself) and also kill all capped queens in their cells.
I was thinking the current queen left with a swarm when the cells were capped. There are no eggs when the virgin emerges. Maybe the bees protected another virgin in a cell. I don't know. And I don't know if she would take over the hive or swarm.

If it was a supercedure I don't think the virgin dukes it out until after the mating. So the original queen would still be there.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,373 Posts
This thread puts me in mind of the times, when I'm holding a queen by her legs to mark her with paint, when various workers would land near the queen I'm holding and promptly attempt to sting her. I'm surprised how often this happens, but I've learned to be ready to defend the queens I'm holding.

Perhaps this is one explanation as to why some virgins never return from their mating flights.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,121 Posts
Typically when a virgin queen emerges out of her queen cell she'll go around and kill the hive's current laying queen (or get killed herself) and also kill all capped queens in their cells. Then she leaves the hive to mate. If she comes back to the hive after successfully mating she'll start laying within a couple weeks. If she got accidentally balled like mine did the hive is queenless. But hours earlier the original queen would have been laying eggs. The workers will realize their queenless state after a matter of hours and begin taking those young eggs and begin rearing queens from them.

If the queen came from a recently hived swarm I may have gotten a secondary swarm that swarmed with a virgin queen. In that case there will be no eggs in the hive. Adding a frame with eggs from another colony will give them eggs to make a new queen from.

This was all off the top of my head. If I've got any of this wrong please correct me.
I'm with acebird, the original queen was gone long before the cells hatched. If you lose the virgin, your hive is queenless and no way to make a queen without help.
I had that happen to a hive already this year, they swarmed, the virgin didn't return from the mating flight and they were queenless till I bought a queen. I mean no brood anywhwere in a double deep.... You probably need to start looking for another queen or move a frame with eggs and larve to the queenless hive.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
255 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
I'm with acebird, the original queen was gone long before the cells hatched. If you lose the virgin, your hive is queenless and no way to make a queen without help.
I had that happen to a hive already this year, they swarmed, the virgin didn't return from the mating flight and they were queenless till I bought a queen. I mean no brood anywhwere in a double deep.... You probably need to start looking for another queen or move a frame with eggs and larve to the queenless hive.
If they're hopelessly queenless then I've got to find the hive and put some eggs in there. Question, I've heard that bees will emit a continuous loud buzz when the nurse bees realize they are queenless. And it only takes a few hours for them to start doing this. Instead of taking the time to opening every hive (I've got 12) and looking for eggs can I instead take the much quicker approach and simply put my ear up to each hive and listen for the tell-tale buzzing? Or is there a chance they won't be doing their nervous buzz?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,373 Posts
Yes, you could listen for the "queenless roar". The distinctive sound a queenless hive makes, almost continuously, until they are queenright, again. But, unless you can recognize it, it might be illusive. Of course, you could listen, guess which it is, then do a physical check to verify. It could help you to learn the sound, too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
255 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Yes, you could listen for the "queenless roar". The distinctive sound a queenless hive makes, almost continuously, until they are queenright, again. But, unless you can recognize it, it might be illusive. Of course, you could listen, guess which it is, then do a physical check to verify. It could help you to learn the sound, too.
I think I know the "queenless roar" sound. I think. Is it a higher energy/pitched and higher volume fanning sound than the normal low bzzzzzzzzz of the calm queen-right hive?

I'll see if I can find some footage comparing the two on youtube or somewhere.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
255 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Here's some footage I found. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cN8O4_PxOsA

The queen was balled this past Friday. It's now Wednesday of the following week. Will they keep up this roar the whole time they are queenless? Or do they at some point resign themselves and resume their queenright sound again? I doubt they would ever sound normal without their queen giving them the normal duties to fulfill. But I wanted to ask.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
255 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
On 4-18-2014 I inspected the hive I suspected the swarm issued from. I also inspected another hive that was weak and turned out to be queenless and I gave a frame of eggs & brood to a few weeks earlier. Both were queenless. The hive I think swarmed had a half dozen supersedure cells on the bottom of the frames. I used newspaper to join both of these queenless colonies to a medium strength queenright colony.

Then my family left for vacation. I inspected the merged colony this past weekend. Both joined colonies had chewed up all their respective newspaper and the merged colony looked good and strong. I scraped off all the newspaper and removed the newspaper pulp from the bottom board. Just wanted to follow up on the thread with what I discovered and what I did about it. Thanks for all of your advice!
 

·
Vendor
Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
Joined
·
54,108 Posts
There are several possible scenarios. The queen being balled could be a virgin that got run out when the new one took over. She could also be a queen returning from a mating flight that tried to enter the wrong hive. If I found that queen being balled, I would probably check that hive and the ones next door for brood and eggs and if there is none give them a frame of eggs and open brood so the bees can sort things out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
255 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
There are several possible scenarios. The queen being balled could be a virgin that got run out when the new one took over. She could also be a queen returning from a mating flight that tried to enter the wrong hive. If I found that queen being balled, I would probably check that hive and the ones next door for brood and eggs and if there is none give them a frame of eggs and open brood so the bees can sort things out.
I was observing a new swarm I hived Sunday when I was noticing another 2yr old hive right next to the one the queen was balled on. It should be at least medium strength but is now looking quite weak. I made a mental note to myself to inspect it. I will do that and report back.

Makes me wonder though. Foragers orient and get a lock on their hive location when they first emerge out of the hive and do orientation flights. Do virgin queens do an orientation flight too when they emerge from the hive to mate?
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top