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Will a queen catcher work for a queenless hive test?

1788 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Michael Bush
About 3 weeks ago I went ahead and split my rather booming 10 frame deep as they were starting swarm prep from the looks of it. Last week I went in to see if the queen cells had hatched. They had disappeared from what I could tell and assumed that the queen hatched and I should see brood this week. No such luck. There is no brood and the hive is jam packed with honey. I'm hesitant to give it another week because its already been about 3 weeks as is. Oddly enough the hive seems to have settled down and is much calmer than after I did the split.

I'm thinking I can go through my top bar and find the queen, cage her and then see how the original react, overly eager once they find her or are they trying to ball her. I've seen Michael Palmer do this with normal queen cages, not sure about queen catchers though.
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three weeks from emergence is about what most folks use as a benchmark, but you can get a late bloomer sometimes.

worse than being queenless would be if there is a defective queen in the hive, (poorly raised or poorly mated or both).

i have had two instances in which i thought the hive was queenless, only to have the bees reject and kill an introduced queen.

in one case, the hive had a queen and knew it, but that queen was a runt not much bigger than a worker. after they killed my introduced queen, i shook the colony out and made them re-enter the hive through an excluder. i found the runt on the bottom board and pinched her, and they accepted the next queen no problem.

the other case involved the bees appearing to have failed to make a new queen after swarming late in the season. the new queen happened to come in on about our summer dearth, when brood-rearing takes a break. again they killed my introduced queen because they had one, and the one they had started laying a few weeks later and turned out to be awesome.

the best test to see if your split is queenright is to give a frame of brood with just hatched larvae and/or eggs and see what they do with it. if they are queenless or have a poor queen they will likely start making queen cells on it and ultimately end up with a queen. you also buy some time to see if they have a laying queen without risking laying workers.
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mike bush describes it very well here:
A laying worker hive will react aggressively toward the caged queen, just like a queenright hive.
There isnt a laying worker, otherwise I'd see at least some drone brood. Right now there is nothing... There might be eggs but I have yet to be able to see it, mainly because my comb is just about all new.

Giving a frame of brood may be difficult, as one hive is a top bar, and the other is a deep that is being prepped to move to a top bar. The main issue is that the TBH is something I shouldnt have done probably and much bigger and wider. I might have a small piece of brood comb I can lop off and stick on a shorter bar to put into the deep, but I have to look the through TBH tomorrow.

Here is a video of what I'm talking about. I wouldnt release her, And since its been three weeks, I dont want to go another month without any more bees being raised. I can get a new queen locally, maybe somewhere in the middle of the week, but saturday for sure. Given some time though, all my top bars will be uniform now that I've figured out a dimension I like to work with.
Workers can pass through a queen catcher. Then they can potentially kill her. Test with a queen cage.
As Greg says, they can kill her...
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