Lost queens

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by markles, Feb 15, 2012.

  1. markles

    markles New Member

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    Hello, I’m almost too embarrassed to ask this question but as the reward will be some knowledge, here goes. Two weeks ago I opened a newish hive to put a queen excluder and super on. While I was there I decided to pull one frame just to check that all was well. I carefully put the frame back and put the queen excluder on and as I reached for the super I saw the queen. She was sitting on my hand. As I moved to contain her she buzzed of my hand and into the grass. I searched and searched but couldn’t find her so I had to leave the colony to raise a new one. I figured it was a lesson hard learned and promised myself never to do that again.
    Believe it or not, I lost another queen three days ago – idiot! I was transferring a colony I was given in a dilapidated hive into a new one. I moved the frames one at a time having each time checked the frame to see if the queen was on it. After all ten frames I found her in the box and carefully tried to catch her. Guess what, she buzzed out of the box and into the grass. Couldn’t find her. Now how many times am I gonna have to learn this lesson?
    My question(s), what is the best way to catch and handle a queen. Second question, does a lost queen ever find her way back to her hive? I would imagine that if she was an egg bound, laying queen that she’s not really flight worthy. My hives are on stands at waist height. Hope I don’t get banished from this forum for being a queen killer.
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    First Markles, do not be embarrassed to ask any question!
    As for losing a queen, you should not be surprised to hear from many a keep on this forum that has gone through what you have on at least one occasion!
    I can personally verify that it has happened to me, and more than once. The odds of your queens finding their way back to the hive is dependant on a few variables. Were they clipped? If they cannot fly well, the fact that your hives are on stands might make it difficult for them. As far as "catching" them, I'm afraid I can't be of much help there. With my clumsy fingers I have always been too afraid of picking them up and crushing them. I have never heard of a queen stinging a keep so that should not be a concern.
    Again, many of the situations we sometimes find ourselves in may seem unique to us, but believe me, as beekeepers, we've all done or tried or found out most of the same things at one time or another.
     

  3. jb63

    jb63 New Member

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    markles, Ask JPthebeeman how he catches queens.He does a lot of you-tube queen catching with a queen clip.On the other side of the coin fatbeeman said in one of his videos that alot of people kill queens using that same tool.May be JP will do some videos showing how to use the clip catcher.I use my fingers and have been lucky when I dropped a queen.
     
  4. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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    As a relatively new beek I don't know the answer, but I am one to think outside the box.

    How about pulling a full frame of bees and shaking them onto the grass close to where you lost her, they should very quickly find her.....and then you bundle them all up back into th hive

    EXPERTS ??? Am I too close to the smoker ?? :D
     
  5. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    How about just setting a frame full of bees in the grass. She may go to them. Better than trying to pick up all the house bees who don't know their way home.
     
  6. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    most* times they do find their way back home unless they are old and weak <in which case you may well be better off if they do not find their way back home????

    the best way to catch queens is to first snag their wings with your thumb and index finger (this requires you wear no gloves). then I typically transfer the queen to my other hand by grasping several of their legs. practicing on drones are good specimens to practice upon.

    *I did have the circumstance some years back when I had spotted a queen and she took flight and I looked and looked but never could find her. I got loaded up in the truck and was about half way home when I looked across the seat and there she was sitting on my hat and veil.
     
  7. tommyt

    tommyt New Member

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    Was she smirking


    Tommyt
     
  8. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    I remember shortly after having started with the bees (2nd year perhaps) and going through a hive and proudly proclaiming "There she is, I found the queen". I carefully set the frame back in the hive and pulled out the next one and was immediately puzzled because there on the next frame was another queen. Sitting there for a moment trying to grasp what it was I was seeing, I noticed on my forearm yet another queen. :shock: When I went to set the frame I was holding back in the hive I noticed yet another queen on my thigh! :shock:
    I must have sat frozen for about 5 minutes, trying to figure out what the h=!! was going on! I wasn't sure at that time if all these queens were from this one hive ( :oops: ) or what was happening. :lol:
    End result............. I put everything back in the hive (flicked the queens in with my hive tool) :eek: and closed up shop.
    I did some heavy reading that night! :roll:
     
  9. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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    That makes lots of sense, thanks Iddee
     
  10. markles

    markles New Member

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    Thanks for the input everyone. I'm not likely to be taking off my gloves with our African bees anytime soon so I'll have to find another way. I've seen some pictures of little plastic cages - what are those all about? - I dont think we get them here.
    Actually I've now got another hive that I think is queenless - not through my stupidity this time. Yesterday afternoon I found one of my hives off the stand and open on the ground. Didn't have a clue what could have caused it and I couldn't find any tracks around the hive. Anyway, it must have happened that night so they were exposed for at least 12 hours - I put the hive back together and 95% of the bees back in the box although I didnt see the queen. Believe it or not, when I went to check on them this morning I found the hive back open on the ground. It can only be a honey badger. I'll make a plan to trap it and re-locate it but in the meantime I've strapped all my hives to the stands. Still, I now have another hive that could be queenless. Darn ![attachment=1:w1bgz8cu]Badger-damage-1.jpg[/attachment:w1bgz8cu][attachment=0:w1bgz8cu]Badger-damage-2.jpg[/attachment:w1bgz8cu]
     

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  11. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    You certainly have hit a steep part of your beekeeping road. Don't lose heart though, I have had 3 hives discovered in much the same state that had been open for at least 2 days, maybe 3, including a heavy downpour. Never lost a queen! The only thing that happened was one box that was seperated enough from the rest had begun to raise it's own. They are resilient.
    Mine was caused by two legged bandits.
     
  12. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    tommyt wrote:
    Was she smirking

    tecumseh:
    no she had her thumb out and was pleading to be taken back to the promised land (Florida). evidently she just needed a road trip.

    markles writes:
    I've seen some pictures of little plastic cages - what are those all about? - I dont think we get them here.

    tecumseh:
    you are likely speaking of the newer 'plastic' introduction cages. they can be quite handy especially if you want or need the introduction to be quick.

    as a side bar markles and related to you statement in regards to gloves... I see that kelleys is now advertising a glass queen catching device which looks a bit like some 'head shop' dope pipe. I would suspect any glass blower could fashion you one of these fairly easily.
     
  13. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    The Rev. Mr. Remington have sent many Skunks and Ratcoons to Honey Heaven for less than what your honey badger has done. They must love it there because i've not had one come back. Bet your Honey Badger would like it there also. :mrgreen: Jack
     
  14. markles

    markles New Member

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    Don't know if the Skunks and Ratcoons would want him there - he's an ugly sucker ;)[attachment=0:2ma9w11x]honey-badger-ratel-2.jpg[/attachment:2ma9w11x]
     

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  15. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    looks like he may have popped to many steroids.
     
  16. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    lol I have seen the documentaries of the Rattan/ Honey Badger making a raid on a hive in a cave, he went in the bees worked him over, stinging his nose, mouth, eyelids and ears, all he did was grunt and squeal, continuing to eat then ran out, grunting, rubbing his face in the dirt, with a snort, ran back in for seconds, grunting and squealing the whole time he taking a beating by the bees again---tough animals but then all badgers are the american badger is no slouch by any stretch of the imagination.
     

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  17. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    That thing does looks like a skunk on steroids :shock: If i had found one in my bee yard, i would have thought it was a Rambo Skunk coming back for revenge :eek: . Jack