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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a relatively new beekeeper, with an agressive hive (currently my only hive) that needs to be dealt with. It was agressive last year. Two deep hive boxes. They seem to have come out of winter pretty strong, but then I haven't gone very deep into the hive because of their agression toward me. I've read Michael Bush's advice about requeening, i.e. separating the boxes to make it easier to find the old queen, placing an empty box in the old location for the returning field bees, etc, but when I try to think through this, there seem to be a number of unanswered questions. How far to separate the boxes? Will the bees all try to go back to the box with the queen? Should I add empty frames to the empty box for the returning field bees? Or some frames with brood and food? Once I find the old queen and eliminate her, and introduce the new queens (I'm thinking split the hive into two separate hives) should the third box with the field bees be combined with one of the newly queened hives with no harm to the queens? Will they all stay put while I attempt to carry out this plan? (I don't know the time frame I have to do all this.)
Lots of questions, lots of things to potentially go wrong, I wish I had a mentor to guide me through this. I guess I'm just wanting to get advice and weigh it out before starting on it.
Thanks for any help.
 

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What i believe at this point is you are over complicating the process in your mind. To requeen a hive you need only do two things after getting your new queen. First go through your hive and find the OLD mean gene queen and pinch her/cut head off, etc. Then in the brood chamber that she was in, place the new queen cage between two frames and hang there. DO NOT pull candy cork or if it's a cali mini cage (Small one cork in end) don't place marshmallow yet. Wait two days min. Go back into hive and pull the cork. Wait three more days go back into hive and remove the cage or let quen out if she isn't already. Don't go back into hive for at least 10 more days. You should not see queen cells at any point during this. if you do, remove them. After about 45 to 60 days all bees will be the new queen's girls.
 

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It is also a good time to think, if you have not already, of creating your own swarm solution. Place about 6-8 oz's of rubbing alcohol into a dedicated "Swarm" lure container. Once you find the queen, pinch her head and immediately drop into the solution. This now is a solution you can use to help attract Swarms into a Swarm trap. You may want to go on Youtube and search how "Fat Bee Man" does it, as he has the perfect way of describing just about anything relating to bees. I used his methods last year and caught my first swarm on Memorial Day. I now have about 8 or so traps set around the area. Good Luck.
 

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I had the same problem last year. I did what Michael Bush suggested and "dealt" the boxes into two piles. Basically I took off the top box and put it in "pile A". Second box went into "pile b". Third box into A. Fourth into B. I then moved pile A about 150 yards away - into my neighbor's back yard. I left B in the same location. In this way, one hive had a queen and the other was queenless. I watched both hives and knew within 24 hours which one was queenless (B). The queenless hive was frantic - flying all over and being typically nasty. So I opened A (which was quiet and calm) and within 10 minutes found the mean queen and dispatched her into a bottle of alcohol with much glee! I left both hives queenless for a day and then put in a new queen in both hives using a home constructed queen cage. Since that time, both hives have been sweet, calm and a joy to work. It was easy to fix this problem --as long as you have a couple of queens you can install. I waited to do this until the queens I ordered had arrived. GOOD LUCK!
 

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I have an aggressive hive in a 4' TBH. I want to replace the queen. I have a 3' foot hive I'm using for splits and am currently waiting for some swarm cells to be made.

The thing is... I suck at finding the queen. Normally I don't care about it. I see eggs and larva and capped worker cell and know she's there and doing her job and that's all I really care about. But I can't very well pinch her if I can't find. Sure it's easy to spot a queen in a photo, but when I'm going through a dozen frame of brood and they are moving and she's probably running to the other side of the bar it's a lot harder. Especially when dealing with a feisty hive.

I feel like I'm searching for a needle in a haystack when the hay keeps moving. Any suggestions?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It is also a good time to think, if you have not already, of creating your own swarm solution. Place about 6-8 oz's of rubbing alcohol into a dedicated "Swarm" lure container. Once you find the queen, pinch her head and immediately drop into the solution. This now is a solution you can use to help attract Swarms into a Swarm trap. You may want to go on Youtube and search how "Fat Bee Man" does it, as he has the perfect way of describing just about anything relating to bees. I used his methods last year and caught my first swarm on Memorial Day. I now have about 8 or so traps set around the area. Good Luck.
Yes, I have read about that. Thanks for the reminder. I do want to try and catch a swarm this year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What i believe at this point is you are over complicating the process in your mind. To requeen a hive you need only do two things after getting your new queen. First go through your hive and find the OLD mean gene queen and pinch her/cut head off, etc. Then in the brood chamber that she was in, place the new queen cage between two frames and hang there. DO NOT pull candy cork or if it's a cali mini cage (Small one cork in end) don't place marshmallow yet. Wait two days min. Go back into hive and pull the cork. Wait three more days go back into hive and remove the cage or let quen out if she isn't already. Don't go back into hive for at least 10 more days. You should not see queen cells at any point during this. if you do, remove them. After about 45 to 60 days all bees will be the new queen's girls.
Thanks for the advice. I think finding that feisty queen is going to be the biggest challenge. I will for sure be an educational experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I had the same problem last year. I did what Michael Bush suggested and "dealt" the boxes into two piles. Basically I took off the top box and put it in "pile A". Second box went into "pile b". Third box into A. Fourth into B. I then moved pile A about 150 yards away - into my neighbor's back yard. I left B in the same location. In this way, one hive had a queen and the other was queenless. I watched both hives and knew within 24 hours which one was queenless (B). The queenless hive was frantic - flying all over and being typically nasty. So I opened A (which was quiet and calm) and within 10 minutes found the mean queen and dispatched her into a bottle of alcohol with much glee! I left both hives queenless for a day and then put in a new queen in both hives using a home constructed queen cage. Since that time, both hives have been sweet, calm and a joy to work. It was easy to fix this problem --as long as you have a couple of queens you can install. I waited to do this until the queens I ordered had arrived. GOOD LUCK!
That sounds like exactly what I'm hoping to accomplish. Any idea how long the new queens will be ok in the cage before the cage is added to the hive?
When you moved pile A, did you confine the hive for a couple of days, to reorient them? Otherwise wouldn't they try to return to the original location?
Thanks to all of you for all the help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have an aggressive hive in a 4' TBH. I want to replace the queen. I have a 3' foot hive I'm using for splits and am currently waiting for some swarm cells to be made.

The thing is... I suck at finding the queen. Normally I don't care about it. I see eggs and larva and capped worker cell and know she's there and doing her job and that's all I really care about. But I can't very well pinch her if I can't find. Sure it's easy to spot a queen in a photo, but when I'm going through a dozen frame of brood and they are moving and she's probably running to the other side of the bar it's a lot harder. Especially when dealing with a feisty hive.

I feel like I'm searching for a needle in a haystack when the hay keeps moving. Any suggestions?
Yes, this is my biggest concern too... finding that old queen. I have looked before, in this hive and previously in another one that later died out. Never seen either one. Just eggs, larvae, etc. And from what I read, it's even harder when a hive is aggressive.

Thanks again to everyone who is responding. It really helps! I think we all want what is best for the bees, and so I want this operation to be a success.
 

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There are some queens that like to hang out on the wall inside the hive, whenever the hive is being disturbed in an inspection. For those, I like to use an empty hive to transfer the combs into. As I remove each comb, I thoroughly check it, to see if I can spot her. If I haven't located her before I've moved all the combs into the empty hive, I then carefully check the bees remaining in the original hive, gently poking small clusters, until they break apart, revealing if she were hiding there. Also, carefully watch the remaining bees, they will often reveal her presence by creating little plumes of bees that are running towards her and fanning to point the way (this is how I often locate them - the bees give their hiding places away). If you don't have a queen-catching clip, I recommend that you get yourself one. Also check to see if any clusters have formed round-about on the outside of the old hive, even tiny ones, she may be hiding in one. If you are still unable to locate her, I reverse the process, bringing each comb back to its original hive, and carefully examining each comb for the queen, as you move the combs back. Then, if you still haven't located her on a comb, check any bees that are still inside the new hive box, now empty of combs - just like you did with the old hive box. If a queen is present, but has a habit of hiding, this technique has always worked for me.

I should mention, some queens like to drop off of frames that are being handled, so try to hold combs close above a hive, 99% of the time. When the queens fall, they can be injured or killed in the fall, especially if it is a far drop. If they fall on the ground, you might even step on them, before noticing them.
 

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You could also re-queen via brute force by sifting the bees through a queen excluder. I do that with hives I don't want to mess around with. Just place an excluder over an empty hive box and dump them in one frame at a time until you find the queen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
There are some queens that like to hang out on the wall inside the hive, whenever the hive is being disturbed in an inspection. For those, I like to use an empty hive to transfer the combs into. As I remove each comb, I thoroughly check it, to see if I can spot her. If I haven't located her before I've moved all the combs into the empty hive, I then carefully check the bees remaining in the original hive, gently poking small clusters, until they break apart, revealing if she were hiding there. Also, carefully watch the remaining bees, they will often reveal her presence by creating little plumes of bees that are running towards her and fanning to point the way (this is how I often locate them - the bees give their hiding places away). If you don't have a queen-catching clip, I recommend that you get yourself one. Also check to see if any clusters have formed round-about on the outside of the old hive, even tiny ones, she may be hiding in one. If you are still unable to locate her, I reverse the process, bringing each comb back to its original hive, and carefully examining each comb for the queen, as you move the combs back. Then, if you still haven't located her on a comb, check any bees that are still inside the new hive box, now empty of combs - just like you did with the old hive box. If a queen is present, but has a habit of hiding, this technique has always worked for me.

I should mention, some queens like to drop off of frames that are being handled, so try to hold combs close above a hive, 99% of the time. When the queens fall, they can be injured or killed in the fall, especially if it is a far drop. If they fall on the ground, you might even step on them, before noticing them.


That sounds like good advice. Thanks Joseph
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You could also re-queen via brute force by sifting the bees through a queen excluder. I do that with hives I don't want to mess around with. Just place an excluder over an empty hive box and dump them in one frame at a time until you find the queen.
Paul, I'm curious... wouldn't that take a long time, one frame at a time, waiting for all the bees to move through the excluder each time? What is it that entices them to go down into the empty box?
Thanks,
Sonny
 

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the thing is... I suck at finding the queen.

I feel like I'm searching for a needle in a haystack when the hay keeps moving. Any suggestions?
I too suck at finding the queen. I tried on 3 different occasions to find her, spending about 15 minutes per time going through all the frames. I finally found her and marked her.

You need to mark her. I bought a queen catcher clip and queen muff from DADANT, fashioned a marking tube from an old pill bottle. The bottle top is a flexible snap-on, which I cut the center out of, then cut a small piece of 8X8 mesh and forced the top on over the mesh. I punched a hole in the bottom of the bottle, about half an inch, and bought from Jo Ann fabrics a foam round brush, flat on the end, which is the same diameter as my pill bottle.

This year's color is green, so I used a pastel green. Put the marking pen ( I used a SHARPIE Oil Based from Jo Ann's), the pill bottle and the plunger in the muff ahead of time. Then I caught the queen with the clip, brought her into the muff and carefully guided her into the end of the pill bottle, pushed in the foam brush. After some manipulation I pushed her firmly but gently against the mesh, and marked her with a little mark with the green SHARPIE. (make sure you try the SHARPIE out on paper or some other surface beforehand to make sure the thing is working). After marking I relaxed but did not fully remove the foam brush, and set everything down for about 10 minutes to let the paint dry. Then I returned her to the hive.

It is amazing how that little bit of color jumps out at you when searching for the queen. I wonder why I did not do this before???
 

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As far as "pinching" queens, I never do. Just drop her in the alcohol. Don't do anything else. Queen juice is too valuable of a resource to waste queens and the alcohol will kill them instantly...

> I've read Michael Bush's advice about requeening, i.e. separating the boxes to make it easier to find the old queen, placing an empty box in the old location for the returning field bees, etc, but when I try to think through this, there seem to be a number of unanswered questions. How far to separate the boxes?

First, you need to realize that you adjust depending on HOW mean they are. If they are just a little rowdy, you can just find the queen, dispose of her and tomorrow introduce the new one. But when you have an outright vicious hive, you will have to divide them more and then it helps to have a queen for each box. As far as how far, I figure ten feet behind the current hive is a good place and those boxes can be right next to each other. Even touching. The reason for the ten feet is to discourage the returning field bees from finding the box with the queen again too quickly. The reason for the empty box at the old location is to get the field bees so there are less bees to deal with.

> Will the bees all try to go back to the box with the queen?

If it's right next to the old location, some will.

>Should I add empty frames to the empty box for the returning field bees?

Empty drawn comb would by nice. If you have a box that is all honey that is very unlikely to have the queen, you could leave that for them...

>Or some frames with brood and food?

No brood.

> Once I find the old queen and eliminate her, and introduce the new queens (I'm thinking split the hive into two separate hives) should the third box with the field bees be combined with one of the newly queened hives with no harm to the queens?

Once the old queen is eliminated there are many possible variations. Leaving them split into several hives will keep them a lot calmer a lot sooner. Recombining may put them back into being really vicious and strong, but that is one option...

> Will they all stay put while I attempt to carry out this plan? (I don't know the time frame I have to do all this.)

I would set up all the bottom boards (I would do one for each box if they are really vicious) with a cover next to them (any board that will cover the top will do in a pinch). Then I would set each of the current boxes on it's own bottom and put the lid on. Then put the box for the field bees on the old bottom and put the lid on. If the hive was tall, you may want to put several boxes there just to make them see it as their old hive... I would walk away and let them settle down after that. As you are moving boxes pay attention to which ones are light and have a lot of bees. These are the most likely candidates for the one that has the queen. Check them for the queen. If they are unmanageable, you have a few other options. If you have a queen for every box, you can try to introduce those queens the next day and the one with a dead queen the day after that is the one with the queen. Or you can split the boxes down more by putting half the frames from each box in another box or a nuc and let them settle down again. Or you can wait four days and just look for eggs. The box with eggs after four days has the queen.

> Lots of questions, lots of things to potentially go wrong, I wish I had a mentor to guide me through this. I guess I'm just wanting to get advice and weigh it out before starting on it.

The most important thing is to have "the beesuit of invulnerability"...
 

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Thanks for the additional info Mr. Bush. I found that very useful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
As far as "pinching" queens, I never do. Just drop her in the alcohol. Don't do anything else. Queen juice is too valuable of a resource to waste queens and the alcohol will kill them instantly...

> I've read Michael Bush's advice about requeening, i.e. separating the boxes to make it easier to find the old queen, placing an empty box in the old location for the returning field bees, etc, but when I try to think through this, there seem to be a number of unanswered questions. How far to separate the boxes?

First, you need to realize that you adjust depending on HOW mean they are. If they are just a little rowdy, you can just find the queen, dispose of her and tomorrow introduce the new one. But when you have an outright vicious hive, you will have to divide them more and then it helps to have a queen for each box. As far as how far, I figure ten feet behind the current hive is a good place and those boxes can be right next to each other. Even touching. The reason for the ten feet is to discourage the returning field bees from finding the box with the queen again too quickly. The reason for the empty box at the old location is to get the field bees so there are less bees to deal with.

> Will the bees all try to go back to the box with the queen?

If it's right next to the old location, some will.

>Should I add empty frames to the empty box for the returning field bees?

Empty drawn comb would by nice. If you have a box that is all honey that is very unlikely to have the queen, you could leave that for them...

>Or some frames with brood and food?

No brood.

> Once I find the old queen and eliminate her, and introduce the new queens (I'm thinking split the hive into two separate hives) should the third box with the field bees be combined with one of the newly queened hives with no harm to the queens?

Once the old queen is eliminated there are many possible variations. Leaving them split into several hives will keep them a lot calmer a lot sooner. Recombining may put them back into being really vicious and strong, but that is one option...

> Will they all stay put while I attempt to carry out this plan? (I don't know the time frame I have to do all this.)

I would set up all the bottom boards (I would do one for each box if they are really vicious) with a cover next to them (any board that will cover the top will do in a pinch). Then I would set each of the current boxes on it's own bottom and put the lid on. Then put the box for the field bees on the old bottom and put the lid on. If the hive was tall, you may want to put several boxes there just to make them see it as their old hive... I would walk away and let them settle down after that. As you are moving boxes pay attention to which ones are light and have a lot of bees. These are the most likely candidates for the one that has the queen. Check them for the queen. If they are unmanageable, you have a few other options. If you have a queen for every box, you can try to introduce those queens the next day and the one with a dead queen the day after that is the one with the queen. Or you can split the boxes down more by putting half the frames from each box in another box or a nuc and let them settle down again. Or you can wait four days and just look for eggs. The box with eggs after four days has the queen.

> Lots of questions, lots of things to potentially go wrong, I wish I had a mentor to guide me through this. I guess I'm just wanting to get advice and weigh it out before starting on it.

The most important thing is to have "the beesuit of invulnerability"...

Thanks for any help.
Yes, I have ordered a bee suit for this task. I've only used a veil before this, but I want to go in well protected.
Thanks for the additional detail Michael. One more question... (well two, maybe) This hive is two deep hive boxes. Are you saying I can move them both 10 feet away, and they can even be put right next to each other? Also... should I confine them in these boxes to help them reorient, before looking for the queen?
Thanks for the help,
Sonny
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
What i believe at this point is you are over complicating the process in your mind. To requeen a hive you need only do two things after getting your new queen. First go through your hive and find the OLD mean gene queen and pinch her/cut head off, etc. Then in the brood chamber that she was in, place the new queen cage between two frames and hang there. DO NOT pull candy cork or if it's a cali mini cage (Small one cork in end) don't place marshmallow yet. Wait two days min. Go back into hive and pull the cork. Wait three more days go back into hive and remove the cage or let quen out if she isn't already. Don't go back into hive for at least 10 more days. You should not see queen cells at any point during this. if you do, remove them. After about 45 to 60 days all bees will be the new queen's girls.
One other question about introducing a new queen. We ARE talking about a mated queen, right? I've also heard people talk about getting virgin queens, so they can mate with local drones. Is that supposed to be better?
 

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You could also re-queen via brute force by sifting the bees through a queen excluder. I do that with hives I don't want to mess around with. Just place an excluder over an empty hive box and dump them in one frame at a time until you find the queen.
Wait...if you dump them in won't they be flying all around. They won't just fall through the holes of the excluder right? Maybe I am missing something? I also have a difficult time finding the queen.
 

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SonnyK, it goes much faster than you would think, and no, they don't all fly around. Bees have a remarkable tendency to stay in a large clump when dumped injudiciously into a box. Just hold each frame over the excluder and give a sharp vertical shake so the bees fall through it. You have to be quick about it, and also scan each frame (and the excluder) for the queen. It isn't pretty and I wouldn't do it near other humans, but after 3 -4 frames the bees seem to sort of give up, much like they do in a removal when they realize the end is near.

When I have a hive that is difficult and I don't want to waste time with them, I split them as Mr. Bush advises, then find the box that most likley has the queen and sift them through an excluder. Brute force, but it usually works. You can do the same and simulate an artificial swarm, similar to the old Marburg Swarm boxes too.

I once had a VERY, VERY aggressive old abandoned hive that I forced up through an excluder between the old hive and a new box. It affectively transferred the bees to a new box and allowed me to remove the queen without exposing myself to large numbers of them. I used a small dab of Bee-Go on cardboard to force them up.

Just follow Mr. Bushes advice, mine is most likely a bit further down the line after you get some time in the trenches so to speak. When I did removals here, I dealt with nasty bees pretty regularly, and had to come up with creative ways to keep from getting stung all the time.
 
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