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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have a hive that seems to be queenless. There are only a couple hundred scattered capped brood left, no eggs or larva, and we cannot find the queen when we search for her. A couple of weeks ago the hive was loaded with brood although it wasn't a very good pattern. We purchased a new mated queen and got her in the mail Thursday the 24th. We decided to test the reaction of the hive to the caged queen,placed her on top of the frames and immediately the bees started clinging to the cage. I've read that this could mean they are trying to feed her and accept her OR they're being aggressive by biting her. Any thoughts or feedback?
 

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Their reaction to her could be either or as you describe. Without being able to see them I cannot tell you. I would put tape over the candy plug. Put the cage screen side down between two frames and leave them alone for 3 days. Then uncover the candy plug, and put her back in the same spot and stay out of the hive for a week. Then check for eggs. As soon as you find some close the hive and stay out for another week.
Good Luck
Dave
 

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How are the bees on the cage behaving? Are they on the screen loosely, and you can move them about with your finger, or are they attached to the screen…humped up and when you pull them from the screen it's like pulling velcro?

I like to use push-in cages when attempting to re-queen a colony, because it brings the new queen into a laying condition, and it's easy to tell from how the bees are on the cage whether or not the colony is actually queenless.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
What would recommend... we cannot find her and we don't normally have a problem finding the queen. Also, important to note- we already have the new queen.
Another thing- This hive has been very aggressive for quite a while now (at least a month or more). The noise is quite impressive and requires the use of gloves, jackets and veils when inspecting.
 

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The fact that "A couple of weeks ago the hive was loaded with brood although it wasn't a very good pattern", and now there's none, makes me think they have an emerged virgin that hasn't started laying yet.

You could run the bees through an excluder and find her that way.
 

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Introducing a mated queen into an old aggressive hive is not something I do well. Not very good at a calm hive either, but that is another story.

Start your bought queen in a new small split and combine later, if you find you do not like the daughter of the aggressive hive .
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, due to time running out, we decided to check the hive's reaction to her this afternoon. Their reaction today was a stark difference to what we witnessed yesterday. When we laid the cage on top of the frames (just like in the YouTube video), the bees started showing interest but there was absolutely no "sticking like velcro". They huddled around the cage, but were easily brushed aside. Based on this reaction, we took a gamble and installed her in the hive.
So, if this turns out to be the right decision, I have two questions being a beekeeper myself, with just over a year's experience...
(1) I know that it takes a little time for a hive to realize it is queenless. If, in fact the hive was queenless, could they have "realized" this in less than 24 hours and thus changed their temperament towards the introduction of a new queen?
(2) Could the aggravation of a hive inspection yesterday caused aggressive behavior towards the introduction of the queen?

As a note, regarding Michael Palmer's comment about the possibility of a virgin queen... we have been doing weekly inspections and have destroyed any queen cells. Does this change your thoughts?

Thank you everyone for your valuable input. This has been quite the educational experience!
 

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To answer your questions: 1: a hive knows it is queen less in just hours. 2: yes an inspection can cause them to reject the new queen.
Did you release her directly into the hive or is she still in the cage? If she is still in the cage then I would suggest releasing her slowly as I suggested above.
Dave
 

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As a note, regarding Michael Palmer's comment about the possibility of a virgin queen... we have been doing weekly inspections and have destroyed any queen cells. ?
Those were probably superceder cells, the bees noticed the poor pattern before you did.
 

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Where do people get the idea that you should destroy queen cells? I'm legitimately wondering. I did a whole lot of.reading early this year and never read that anywhere. I have only pinched cells if I was introducing a mated queen. Pinch them the day I put her in and pinch them two days later (if there are any) when I check if she's been released. Been OK so.far.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you all for your advice and knowledge. We appreciate the quick feedback everyone has provided- the YouTube video with Michael Palmer was extremely helpful! We're keeping our fingers crossed that this queen works out!
 
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