Super Hot Box of Bees

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by cstephen, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. cstephen

    cstephen New Member

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    I did a cut out on a major hive this past week. I got 30,000+ last weekend and another 3,000 or so today. Well over 100lbs of honey, maybe even 150. I put them in a TBH along with most the brood and egg comb I salvaged and some of the honey comb.

    Anyway, I left the hive alone to settle in for a few days and checked on it Saturday. I checked my other 4 boxes first and all went smooth. Everybody was happy, so I checked on the new girls. I pulled off one TB about 2/3’s of the way back from the front to peer in and the hive exploded. Bees came boiling out like I’ve never seen before. Within seconds I had hundreds of angry bees head butting me like crazy. My veil became so instantly covered with bees it was impossible to see what was going on in the box, so I gave up and closed it. By this time I had bees crawling all over me and clouds of them dive bombing me. I spent the next fifteen minutes or so trying to brush them off and they were just relentless. I went around to the other side of the building from where I have them and couldn’t shake them. I walked another 50-60 yards brushing them off to no avail. They just kept coming. So I walked back toward the hive and just stopped and stood mostly still, just brushing them off occasionally until they finally tired of annoying me and headed home.

    Tonight when I brought back their 3,000 or so sisters I waited until dark and removed one bar in the very back and set my vac box over the hole as quickly as I could before they could boil out too much. I pulled the sliding floor open just enough so the bees in the vac box could work their way leisurely into the TB box and sealed up the opening as quickly as I could. It was a mini repeat of Saturday with fewer bees but it still took fifteen minutes to get them leave me alone and go home. These girls are really mad at me.

    So at this point I have one really hot hive. I don’t know if I got the queen for sure in the cut out process and I can’t get into the box far enough to find out. I’m guessing maybe not, which may be why they are so mad at me. I’ve done several cut outs before where I did not get the queen but they did not behave like this. In those cases I could open the box and verify no queen action and remedy the situation.

    I don’t want to introduce a queen if there’s one in there, but I can’t get in to see. So what would you experts out there do?

    The other thing is that their box is right next to my garden. Saturday morning they wanted to kill me. Sunday morning I spent a few hours pulling weeds as close as ten feet away from this hot box and they ignored me. I stood off the side of the front door for a while and observed them with the same result. So they seem OK as long as I don’t touch their box.

    Any and all advice on what to do with a hot box of bees is welcome.

    Claude
     
  2. LtlWilli

    LtlWilli New Member

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    After going thru the aggravation at being caught, I guess it's only natural for them to be miffed for a few days. I believe that they will mellow on out in a few days...It may surprise you as much as their anger...Good luck with them.
    LtlWilli
     

  3. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    Is AHB in your area? I would place a frame of eggs in and see if they draw queen cells,that way you would know if they are queenless. Jack
     
  4. 2kooldad

    2kooldad New Member

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    yes...AHB is in new mexico...read it a while back...id find that queen and she'd be gone...AHB or not...ive all but jumped up an down on my feral hive and they never did anything like that...even when they were mad at me an chased me 450ft there were still only about 20 of them...not ten thousand...here in florida it seems that they rate AHB as a percent of genes or something...and most feral bees here south of my county have at least some AHB in them so im told...probly north of me too...the bee inspector told me out of 15 traps he caught like 9 swarms and almost all of them were AHB...that was along the west coast of central florida from pasco county north to leavy county...they are suposed to stop below hernando county...there goes that line in the sand.
     
  5. cstephen

    cstephen New Member

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    AHB is in NM but only in the SE corner. The line in the sand seems to be 40-50 miles north of Carlsbad. I'm in Albuquerque and I haven't heard of them up here yet; but that doesn't mean they're not here.

    I don't think I'm dealing with AHB in this case. These bees were real sweet and docile when I cut out their hive and vacuumed them up. I did get stung 8-10 times during the cut out; but just in areas where I was exposed like my back when I'd lean over and my coat would ride up and around the wrists because I started off with regular gloves, so I blamed myself at the time.

    I adjusted the bars on their box this morning and they stayed fairly calm. I think they are just PO'd. I'll try sneaking some egg cells in there this weekend and then just leave them alone for a few weeks. Past experience tells me they'll eventually calm down and return to normal.

    Claude
     
  6. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Sounds like you're on the right track. :thumbsup:
     
  7. 2kooldad

    2kooldad New Member

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    well did they calm down ??? your right...maybe they just had it out for you for a spell...how are they acting now?
     
  8. cstephen

    cstephen New Member

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    I had a friend who is a very experienced beek give me some egg cells today. She came over and we opened up the super hot hive box. Night and day. Nobody came out to chase us away. They were all busy working. We discovered fresh egg cells in the box and found the queen. They were as docile as you please. No need to put any egg cells in with them. They are a strong hive and back in business. They’d already drawn and filled a bar of honey in just a week. So I guess they are over their anger much quicker than I expected.

    I’m beginning to wonder if I missed the queen in the initial cut out and got her the next week on the follow-up. Entirely possible as I was vacuuming them out of a crevice that I could not see into on the second trip. That would explain why they were so mad last week and why they are so normal this week.

    In the meantime we discovered that two of my other boxes were queenless. One was dying off and the other was as well but there was at least one drone layer in there and lots of capped drone cells.

    There was a third weak hive box with a queen but a very small amount of bees. So we put the three boxes together along with the egg cells. We put a paper divider between the drone layer and friends and the queen and her crew that will take a few days to chew through, hopefully giving them enough time to accept the new queen. Meanwhile, the bees on the drone side mostly abandoned the drone comb for the fertile egg comb we put in with them. It’ll either work or it won’t. I’ll go back in a week and see what transpired.

    Hopefully the drone layer will be gone and we’ll have a viable happy hive. If not, we’ll see if we can come up with a Plan B.

    I’ll post back next week and let you know what happened.

    Claude
     
  9. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    CS,
    Sometimes it's easier to simply scatter the bees from the drone-laying hive and let them find their way back to the hive. The merge is completed more easily and this method tends to solve the problem of the drone layers, who don't like to give up their position so quickly if placed directly with a queen.
     
  10. 2kooldad

    2kooldad New Member

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    Awesome...it'll be intresting to hear what happends.
     
  11. ScoobyDoBee

    ScoobyDoBee New Member

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    When you are talking about a drone layer, are you meaning you had a laying worker bee?
     
  12. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    exactly, one or more laying workers
     
  13. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I think perhaps there is some confusion here about the distinction between a laying worker and a drone layer.

    a drone layer is typically a perfectly functional queen that has run out of sperm so all the eggs she lays are unfertilized drones. in rearing queens some will not mate properly and are drone layer from the get go. the clue here with drone layers is there is only one egg deposited per cell.

    a laying worker is a hive that has gone queenless for some time (I think this requires a minimum of about 10 days to arrive at this point) so a number of infertile females begin laying eggs. since these laying workers (there are typically several in one hive) have not had any mating flight so their offspring are drones. the clue here with laying workers is there are multiple eggs in each cell and likely multiple laying workers in each box.
     
  14. ScoobyDoBee

    ScoobyDoBee New Member

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    Wow, didnt know a queen could be a drone layer! First time to hear about that. Good to know, tec, thanks!
     
  15. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Tecumseh
    I think you summed it up as well as any text book could have done.
    It seems that the presence of queen pheromones in the hive suppresses the development of ovaries in workers. When the queen is gone and the influence of her pheromones wears off, some workers begin to develop functional ovaries and thence become laying workers.
     
  16. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    this is my understanding also efmesch and thanks for the further elaboration of basic bee biology.

    I have wondered with a drone laying queen if there is still queen pheromones present since most times (at least for a while) the bees will operate like there is nothing wrong??? after a short period of time they evidently do discover there is something wrong since they will begin making queen cells from almost anything (quite often pollen cells) and there never seems to be any obvious presence of laying workers (at least early on while the drone laying queen is still present).
     
  17. Murrell

    Murrell New Member

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    Correct me if I am wrong;
    I understand a newly mated Queen may lay drones for a short time.

    Murrell
     
  18. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    I have wondered with a drone laying queen if there is still queen pheromones present
    Tec--you stumped me there.
    But it really is a sorry state of affairs when the bees have nothing from which to raise a new queen other than drone eggs. I guess when that happens, they are as likely to meet success as from a cell of pollen. :(
     
  19. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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