Did my Queen just get kicked out?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by NJBeeKeeper, Sep 2, 2012.

  1. NJBeeKeeper

    NJBeeKeeper New Member

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    Hi all!
    I'm new to the forum, and beekeeping in general. I took a course at Rutgers, NJ this Spring and got two hives in early June. Everything has been going great until this afternoon.

    I went to inspect the hives and noticed that there were several workers clustered around one bee just outside the landing. When I looked more closely I realized that it may be the queen. I panicked for a minute then went and got my wife and her camera. We scooped the queen up in a sterile cup and took several photos of it. As it was sitting on top of the hive it eventually took flight (although with some trouble) and took off. I also noticed that there were some drones coming and going from both hives, and workers going about their normal business; coming in with pollen, etc.

    I've attached a photo of what I think is the queen.

    queen.jpg

    I have an e-mail into our state inspector, who also taught the course at Rutgers. But I am in a slight panic mode right now with Autumn looming, etc. I don't want to open the hives and upset them, until I get some advice.

    Should I be opening these hives and looking for a queen? What should I bee looking for other than a queen?

    I last opened the hives about 3 weeks ago. Both were full of brood and stores. Each hive has two boxes, no supers yet.

    Not sure what other information I need to give in order to paint a better picture of this situation. Anything you guys could provide would be much appreciated. Thanks.

    ~Troy
     
  2. Noronajo

    Noronajo New Member

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    There are other more experienced beeks who may have better advice but it's possible you have a supercedure taking place. If something has happened to that hive's queen, whether by accident or deliberate replacement(they decided she wasn't up to par)then they have raised a new queen. You may have seen her leaving on one of several mating flights. Check back in a couple weeks for eggs. Since it's pretty late in the season, I don't know how this might affect their winter survival.
     

  3. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    Hi Troy,
    Hmmm...not seeing her near other bees for size comparison, but looking at the relative size between that abdomen and thorax, that does look to me like a very young queen. There may have been a supercedure, it can happen even in new hives or there may have been a swarm you missed. You may have seen a mating flight!

    Either way, bees aren't usually going to boot a queen and not have a backup waiting. As far as winter survival, hives need enough young population to stay warm and they need enough food stores to not starve. They don't *necessarily* need a queen, queenless hives can survive winters, but it makes things easier for spring if they have one.

    My recommendation would be to inspect the hive as soon as possible.

    Look for queen cells where she may have hatched from that have not yet been deconstructed, that could help show whether it was supercedure or swarm.
    Look for brood, see if there are eggs or very, very young larvae. If so, she's already mated some and is laying. If not, give it another week and do another inspection. (I have a hard time seeing eggs sometimes, even after 5 years of keeping, but if I get the light just right on a patch of 'empty' cells in an obvious brood frame, I can spot them.) If you do not see eggs or tiny larvae after two weeks, you'll want to take steps to get a queen in there before going into winter.

    Look for how much space is in the hive. If the hive is "honeybound" in one or both of the deeps, then you'll want to take steps to give them space and prevent them from swarming (possibly a second time.) That is when a box is so full of honey and stores that there is no space left for the queen to lay, you may only see 1 or 2 frames of brood space (not brood itself, but empty space for the queen to lay). A super on top wouldn't likely help unless you have a serious fall flow on, so you'll want to get them empty deep frames down in those boxes, either drawn frames from your other hive or empty foundations. If only one box is honey bound you can swap around frames with room between the two deeps.

    So, inspect your second hive as well and get an idea of how that hive is in space and population, mood, etc. If it does look like you need to help out this hive in some way, you'll want to know what you've got going on in the other so you can take the steps needed.


    Welcome to the forum and keep in mind...we're not all guys here. :wink:
     
  4. NJBeeKeeper

    NJBeeKeeper New Member

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    Thank you for the helpful responses. I will probably open the one hive tomorrow then to see what I can find out.
    And sorry about the 'guys' commentary, I tend to use it as a vernacular in the classroom. Sometimes I need a reminder to be more inclusive. I'll be sure to report back here with my findings and some pictures.
     
  5. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    Looks like a young queen to me also. Probably returning from a mating flight. I've had it happen before.

    Did you escort her back into the hive?

    Make sure she is returning to the right hiveespecially if your hives are close together and similar in appearance.

    Check the hives for brood age tomorrow to confirm.
     
  6. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Definitely a queen.

    I have heard that a young queen will do several orientation flights before she takes off to mate.

    Because I am up to 5 hives and putting them closer together for winter, and because at least one has a young queen due to mate, I have painted colorful stuff that is different on each box, to help her find her way home. The box with the young queen was formerly a very hot hive, so it got flames at the edges of the front face all around the deep and super.
     
  7. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a heinlien fan snip..
    that does look to me like a very young queen. There may have been a supercedure, it can happen even in new hives or there may have been a swarm you missed. You may have seen a mating flight!

    tecumseh:
    looks like (the abdomen suggest) a young queen to me also. given that a queen may mate 20+ times the event you witnessed likely happens several time for each new queen before she settles down to lay eggs.

    my advice on what to do from here forward would be a bit contrary to heinleinfan in that if I am fairly well assured that a hive has some good possibilities of a queen I typically try to disturb a hive as little as possible at the front side of things until I know there is a good quantity of eggs and larvae. so ideally I would leave the hive alone for a week to 10 days or so and then inspect. most time this difference in process will not matter at all but it can limit some risk from queen fatalities (either human or bee induced) with nothing in the box that the bees can construct a proper replacement.

    for most new beekeeper or casual hobby beekeeper you have witnessed a very rare site.
     
  8. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    I would also vote on a virgin queen. Sounds like she was going on a mating flight.

    I have noticed much drone activity in and around hives that have very ripe queen cells or virgin queens inside. Have others noticed this or am I just imagining things?
     
  9. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    If all looked good 3 weeks ago and now a virgin queen on her mating flight. It is probable that you rolled and damaged the queen on your last inspection. the timing is right for a replacement to be mating. Leave them be for a week till she starts laying before you disturb them. In a weeks time you may have to add a frame of sealed brood from the other hive to give it a boost of bees for winter. but you wont know till you inspect.