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Discussion Starter #1
Today has been cloudy. I knew we were going to have storms this evening. I knew my main hive was ready to swarm. So, I put together a 5 frame nuc and finished off my double. They looked like they were about ready to take off, but I wasn't hearing the "drone". I decided to put a little LGO in the 5 frame and set it near the first spot the last swarm lit, before it settled on the neighbor's fence. As I walk over, I notice a few bees on the ground. Hmm. must be getting nectar from the dandelions. :) I go back and slap a couple of frames together and bring them out to the nuc. I set them in place and go get a closer look at the bees. Interesting. They're kinda balled up on the ground...I wonder. I gently move some out of the way. A virgin!! I pick her up and set her in the nuc. She flies out. Dang! I lost her. I look around. She's in the grass. YES! I pick her up again and put her in the nuc, this time blocking the entrance. I go pick up her posse, which is about the size of a golf ball, and put them in the box. Nice. And it wasn't even mine! These were Italian.

I go back to the garage and finish up the double. I go to see if more bees have come looking for their queen. Hmm...another ball on the ground? I carefully dig under the grass they were on so I can add it to the nuc. Oh MY! ANOTHER QUEEN!! I put her and her attendants in one side of the double. I am pleased as punch!!

I finish my work by pulling 4 frames from the main hive and putting them on the other side of the double and close it up. Then I go through the last hive, find a laying worker and mash it...now thinking maybe I shouldn't have. Her pattern was tight, but the hive is pretty testy.

Sorry, long winded as usual. :D

I go out a little while ago, to see if anymore Italian have come looking for their queens. I quickly open the lid on the 5 frame and my heart sank. There are a few dead bees on the bottom and no queen in site. I open the other nuc, crossing my fingers. Most of the bees were dead and that queen was gone as well. I found 2 bees, still with their stingers in each other. Is it common for queens with few attendants to leave? I'm guessing as much. Or maybe they were dragged out and killed. I didn't think to look on the ground.

On my hives: They are very strong and definitely defend their homes. They are firm without being mean and nasty. It rained today, has been cloudy all day, it was cool when I opened the hives AND I didn't use smoke or spritz syrup. The most they did was head butt (a lot) and try to chase. The only sting came from one that found her way up my pant leg. I'd like them to be less prone to buzzing someone's head just because, but I'm sure that will be taken care of once all hives are queen right.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'm assuming they were newly hatched virgins, because they looked like they weren't much longer than the workers. They definitely weren't as long as the established queens I have
 

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My understanding is that when a swarm cell queen emerges, she goes on her mating flight, then comes back to the hive, and the old queen leaves with part of the colony. Sometimes the queen will leave before the swarm cell hatches, or before the young queen gets back. Either way, it is a bred queen that leaves with the swarm. In a supercedure hatching, the young queen goes on her mating flight and comes back and kills the old queen. I am no expert on all this.

How about it guys? What is your understanding?
 

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When a colony gets ready to swarm, they will stop feeding the queen so she loses weight. The queen must be lighter so she can fly. That is why a swarming queen will be smaller than a laying queen. Normally, capping of queen cells is the signal that it is time to swarm. The older queen will then leave with a portion of the colony. I have never heard of a virgin queen leaving with attendants when they go on mating flights. They make that trip solo.

You said you blocked the enterance, so how do you think the queen got out?:scratch:
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Ahhh. Makes sense. Thanks guys! Woodman, I initially blocked it, then added the bees on the ground, then I partially, opened the entrance so the "rest of the swarm" could find her.

Well, this has been another lesson learned. Thanks guys!
 

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Get a pair of heavy scissors and cut a plastic queen excluder to block the entrance. If the queen can't leave, the colony will stay. Take it off after a few days.

Not normal to find queen on the ground. But, it does happen for one reason or another.
 
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