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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just received 12 queens which were shipped in California mini cages. The shipping box has the attendants running free inside with access to all the cages. This is a different configuration than what I'm used to. If the box is opened, do the attendants usually stay with the queens or tend to fly away? The reason I ask is that I'll need to open and close the box a few times since I can't install all 12 queens at once.

Thanks in advance for any info.
 

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If they are not in the cage, then they can always fly away if they want to.
 

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They might fly around a bit when opened but plenty will stay on the queens. This is a much better way of shipping and holding queens as opposed to having attendants in the cages. Dont let them bake in the sun on a hot day or expose them to excessive cold.
 

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Yes and you may well see some strange “bee havior”. Occasionally they will get restless and roar, then settle down. I’ve even seen the nurse bees take off together as if swarming only to return a few minutes later when they realize no queens followed.
 

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Agreed, much better way to ship queens.

It's also thought to increase queen acceptance as the hive only has to accept one bee, instead of all the ones in the cage.

And call me a softy, but when I'm installing the queens I always open the package around the hives so those bees can find a new home in one of them, then shake out the rest around the queen castles. No bee left behind!

Luckily my queen buying days are over. Hopefully you too can be self sufficient one day as there really is nothing better than your own queens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I placed most of the queens yesterday and this morning. It worked exactly like everyone here said it would! Any attendants that flew away were replaced with my own bees. They occasionally roar in the box too. Thanks again to everyone for the great advice (as usual).

And call me a softy, but when I'm installing the queens I always open the package around the hives so those bees can find a new home in one of them, then shake out the rest around the queen castles. No bee left behind!

Luckily my queen buying days are over. Hopefully you too can be self sufficient one day as there really is nothing better than your own queens.
I'm like you mtnmyke, no bee left behind! I'll do something similar when all queens are placed.

As far as buying queens, I generally have avoided it. I normally start nucs with swarm cells and use the nucs to replace queens in production hives throughout the year. I was pretty aggressive replacing less productive productions queens this year but didn't have many swarm cells to rebuild the my nuc inventory. I bought queens to get the nucs going during the prime part of the flow.

I'm okay at grafting but have not had good luck getting the bees to reliably build good looking cells "on demand" even during a good flow. It's a goal to practice and get better this year though. 🤞
 

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Sounds like a battery box setup, which is a good way to ship queens. Opening the box will allow a few out, but they are likely to orient to you and return. I have found a butterfly cube invaluable in much of my queen bee manipulations. From transferring a mated queen into a cage with multiple attendants to leaving them in my house for a number of days (or weeks in the winter). Opening up the battery box in one of these would keep all the workers mostly confined to the cage so you don't feel rushed to get them installed. A little bit of honey and they will keep for a week.

63260
 

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Ruthie,

Help me, what is a "butterfly cube"? Is it like muff?

Steve
similar netting to a queen muff but more applications. It is a cube with wire walls and a zipper opening with a clear panel. Gives you a bit more control over flighty bees. I started using it to mark my queens as well as getting attendants in the queen cage with them. I can do that in the comfort of my air conditioned house. I use a larger one to transport my 5 frame nuc boxes as I don't always get everything sealed up tight. Here is a link to them. White Habitats ~ Butterfly Farming Supplies
 
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