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Package queen dead

2430 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  RayMarler
Hello! Yesterday I went to install my first package of bees and had everything set up according to plan. After prying the can out of the box, I took the queen cage out and saw she was dead. The cage was without attendants, so I stuck it in my pocket and dumped the bees into the hive because by that time they were all crawling out and I would have squished them in the process of sticking the can back in. Anyway, I called for a new queen, luckily there were some extras, and was back at the hive 90 minutes later. First of all, the bees had all come back out of the hive and were resolutely clinging to all sides of the package, which I had leaned against the hive. As I approached with the new queen the scene turned a little chaotic. They clustered tightly around it and around me, clinging to my clothes and veil and were definitely pissed off. I installed the frightened queen but left the cork in on the candy end to give them a few days to become acquainted. This morning I checked and half of the bees had moved back into the hive, while the other half still clings to the box. I plan to go back on Tuesday (2 full days after hiving) and uncork the candy end of the cage. I'm just wondering if this is enough time? Should I expect the same nasty behavior and if so, should I smoke? I have my sprayer with some honey bee healthy mixed in, which was what I used on Sunday but it didn't subdue or distract them at all on the second visit.
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Hived 4 queenless packages of Italian bees last Monday using Carniolan and Russian queens that didn't come with the packages. Installed queens in cages with cork over fondant removed after pouring package bees into hive. Checked hives on Saturday, all queens sucessfully released and all quiet and normal activity with comb drawing proceeding OK. Packages were installed into single deep with 2 or 3 frames of old drawn comb and the rest new wax foundation. Just used 1:1 spray and HBH when removing cages, probably could have done it without that even.
Yes, this should be enough time, lightly smoke the bees shake the bees off the box and get rid of it. Pull the cork and leave them alone for about four days then quickly check if she has been released if not let her out.
If you should run into this situation again place the dead queen and introduction cage in the super when you shake the bees in. this will encourage them to move into the hive she still is giving off the queen pheromone, and has a calming effect for them. Then replace it with the new queen introduction cage.
Even without attendants, I would think it unusual to have the dead queen. Maybe there was another queen in the package, not in a cage, that was not known to be there. Sometimes it happens and it would explain your dead queen as well as why half the bees went back to the package cage, maybe the spare queen is there. It maybe that the bees just went back to the cage because it still smelled like them and there is no spare queen, but it is possible as it does happen sometimes I have heard. Just keep an eye on the lookout for another queen when you go out to check them next.
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