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One of my hive's numbers have been dwindling all spring. It was a swarm catch last spring and I didn't replace the queen, so I assumed she died. Today I broke it down to one deep getting it ready for another colony. Went back out a couple hours later and saw a bunch of bees balled up in the grass. Found the old queen there.

I put her back in the hive but there is only about 3 dozen bees and no brood at any stage. No drones around as it is too early for SE Idaho. Nothing I can do to save those few bees and their failed queen.

I have always said requeen a swarm, but this one was my highest honey producer last summer and for whatever excuse I came up with, I let the old queen go into the winter. She's not dead today, but she is not laying eggs either. This colony is doomed.
 

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Any idea how old the queen was? I had first year queens swarm last year, certainly not going to replace them.
 

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If I followed that rule I'd be out some really good queens! I've caught swarms where whoever was keeping them just didn't give them enough space. I give them 2 deeps and 5 supers and they fill them right up without any signs of swarming!

However, yes, you have no idea how old the queen is when you catch them. Yet, I think giving them a chance to prove themselves is warranted. Especially since I raise a lot of queens each year and am always on the lookout for survivors with great genetics. My own queens are champs for about 4 years where purchased ones last about a season before they're supersceded.
 

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If you replace every swarm queen with what you have you will always have what you have.

that can be a goal or not , depends on when in the scheme of things you are.

So far I have let every one prove itself, I would re queen IF i had a great queen and no home for her, I guess.

GG
 

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i typically play it by ear. One the one hand new genetics from a feral queen could be great on the other hand she could worsen your genetic stock. I see how they do. I have only requeened one swarm so far in the last several years ...one from last year actually who was just lagging along not doing much so i replaced her with a Michael Palmer bought queen and they have built up into two deeps and came through winter fine. But i dont just as a rule requeen a swarm colony. I first give her a chance to see how good she is and how she may fit into my plans/apiary.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
When I say rule i mean I replace the queen of a swarm probably less than half the time. I am strictly a hobbyist, run 4 to 6 hives. If I get more than that I swap with a few buddies for things or just give them away. I caught four swarms last year and gave two away -- had people come with me on two of them and let them keep the swarm.

Unless you catch a swarm with a marked queen, you have no idea how old she is. What I have done in the past is once I get them in a box and she is laying, I pull the queen and let them make a new one mid-summer so they have a fresh queen from her genetics. I kept the old queen in a nuc in case I needed to put her back.

Being such a small operation allows me to manipulate and see what happens.

I have a lot of rules that I rarely follow. It was just sad seeing an old queen that has a dwindling colony and no eggs.
 

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Yeah I requeen swarms. Many supersede the queen right after they set up shop anyways. The ones that do it successfully are often great. The others have an old queen or no queen.
The swarm queen likely would have been shut down from laying and take a while to get up to speed again. The workers sense the lack of open brood pheremone and may allow supercedure from some of the first eggs she lays. A couple of times on latish swarms I have torn down the started cells and the colony straightened out and overwintered fine.

With my typical 8 colonies I can play wait and see but if someone is raising replacement queens as a matter of course, I can see a policy of automatically replacing them. Unless a queen has special genetic promise, new queens yearly can seem like the right move.
 

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I have no rule for replacing queens due to age, swarming, etc. If they are producing, they continue to live. I don't bother to even mark them, as it adds no value to my management.
 
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Those dark queens of mine make quite a challenge for me to find. Like a black cat in a coal bin at midnight! I can see not marking or replacing but just dealing with the occasional queen failure over winter. I manage differently and spend more time fiddling with 7or 8 colonies than my son would with his 40.
 

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Those dark queens of mine make quite a challenge for me to find. Like a black cat in a coal bin at midnight! I can see not marking or replacing but just dealing with the occasional queen failure over winter. I manage differently and spend more time fiddling with 7or 8 colonies than my son would with his 40.
My methods are changing over time, but currently I don't work too hard to see queens. If I see evidence that she is doing her job, that is enough.

I would say that 2/3 of the times I do a deep inspection, I do not see the queen.
 
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However, yes, you have no idea how old the queen is when you catch them.
The vast majority of the swarms I've dealt with over the years came complete with marked queens, so I thought the color of the mark was a good indication of the age of queen. FWIW, in all cases, the color was for the year prior.
 

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My methods are changing over time, but currently I don't work too hard to see queens. If I see evidence that she is doing her job, that is enough.

I would say that 2/3 of the times I do a deep inspection, I do not see the queen.
Yeah, I used to spend a lot of time looking for queens, not so much anymore. Sometimes, by the pattern of eggs, larvae and capped brood I can predict where she might be, if I really want to get a look at her.

As long as everything else looks good, I don't necessarily have to see her. I just keep an eye out so I don't accidentally squish her.
 

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:rolleyes: People doing mite washes tend to do a lot more queen looking! I try to get mine marked during spring sorts when they are easier to find, but doesn't always happen. My shaker box will determine where the queens are or aren't, whichever I need to know.
 
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