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Well, it looks like our strongest hive is queenless. 16 days ago I opened up the hive before we went on vacation and found many capped queen cells. Didn't have a lot of time to go frame by frame. Just lifted up the boxes and scraped off the capped cells I saw on the bottom of the frame. Didn't want to end up with swarm and after swarm while we were gone. This may have been a big mistake!!

Now I opened up and the girls are in a stinging mood. They are downright *****y. It didn't take them long to nail me a few times. Even 30 feet from the hive I got nailed. Well, so much for dealing with a queenless hive. The longer I worked them the more agressive they became.
There are no eggs and no capped brood left. Before I ordered a queen I was going to add some fresh brood and see what happens. Albeit, it's no fun to work an agressive hive. In addition it apears that the hive I intended to use as a donor may be queenless as well. They are definitely not as gentle as they were in the summer and no fresh brood either. Couldn't really go through the hive though since they also were in attack mode.

The long winded explanation finds me now pondering two decisions.
1. Should I buy a top to bottom bee suit in addition to a couple of queens?
2. Without a full bee suit I just want to open up the hive and drop in the queen cage as quickly as possible but how do I know they'll accept her? Will they be less agressive in a day or two if the queen is accepted? What do think?
 

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The bee suit is up to you. If your going to keep bees, you'll probably have more days like that. Lots of things affect their attitude. Queenlessness is certainly one of them. A sudden stop in nectar flow will sometimes make them angry. South winds, which dry up the nectar here, have the same effect. They get downright nasty. They are working, and not getting paid when the nectar stops. They get angry, just like you would. Sounds like you know what needs to be done. It's just getting up the gumption to find some eggs and larvae in the 2nd colony. Then you can decide if you need 2 queens or one, if you want to give them a chance to raise their own, or get one and combine them. Lots of choices to make. Get the information to make the right ones.
 

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There are exceptions to everything in beekeeping but....If the queen cells are capped, it is almost certain that the bees are already beyond stopping them from swarming. Cutting them out at that point dooms the hive to going queenless.

Having a nuc handy to place a few frames into(with a couple of queen cells), then trying to stop the swarm by cutting out the rest of the queen cells, or using another approach, is probably a good road to take. This will ensure that if the hive goes queenless you can combine the frames and new queen back into the original hive. Taking advantage of having a nuc with an extra queen is very handy. In removing a few frames of bees/brood, and replacing with foundation, and adding another box, even if only for room, will help.

The only way to stop swarming is to go into the hive during the swarm season in no more than ten day increments. Then removing uncapped queen cells, making sure they have enough room, and a good young queen helps. If you are going in less than every ten days, you will miss the swarm inpulse and will not stop the swarm from leaving. And then there are always the exceptions....
 

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As Bjorn has pointed out, destroying all the queen cells when they are about to swarm is very liekly to end up with a hive that swarms anyway and ends up queenless.

Been there. Done that.

>1. Should I buy a top to bottom bee suit in addition to a couple of queens?

I wouldn't be without one. If you have the bucks the Golden Bee Products one is awsome. If you don't work the bees that much and heat isn't a big issue for you, any of the ones from the major companies work ok.

>2. Without a full bee suit I just want to open up the hive and drop in the queen cage as quickly as possible but how do I know they'll accept her? Will they be less agressive in a day or two if the queen is accepted? What do think?

Agressive hives like that OFTEN reject the queen. They are already in a fighting mood.

Here's what I would od. Buy the top to bottom suit. While you're at it buy a push in queen cage from Betterbee or make one out of #8 hardware cloth. Buy a five frame nuc, if you don't have one. Pull three frames of bees out and put them in the nuc. Put the queen on a comb with the push in cage for four days or so in the nuc. After the nuc has accepted her, combine the nuc (with newspaper and a board on the side to cover the difference in width) with the hive. This will greatly increase the odds of them accepting her.

Other variations would be just to introduce with the cage in the nuc. Or just to introduce to the hive in the push in cage. But you will be more likely to have good luck doing both.
 

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"1. Should I buy a top to bottom bee suit in addition to a couple of queens?"

If you can't afford a full bee suit just yet, or aren't sure, here's an inexpensive alternative:

I bought a disposable one piece paint suit from Home Depot for $7.77. It has elastic sleeve and leg cuffs. Has a hood but I just fold it down and put my hat & veil on. Works pretty good but don't know how long it will last.

The one I had last year lasted a whole hunting season (makes terrific snow camo for deer & coyotes).


I used it for bees last week when the bear raided my friends hives. Now there were some p***** off bees !

Hayseed


[This message has been edited by Hayseed (edited August 30, 2004).]
 
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