Monday, March 30, 2009

How to Re-Queen a Beehive

If you are looking for the best advice on how to re-queen a beehive, I suggest you keep looking because you are not going to find it here.

Reasons to re queen a hive:

  • Older queens are more prone to swarming
  • Replacing a failing queen
  • Better stock traits like pest and disease resistances
  • And in my case, improving bad attitudes

So how do you get new queen bees? There are a few suppliers online; I chose to use mainly due to its proximity to my location

How are queen bees shipped to the beekeeper? Well see for yourselves below. I had to pay extra for the overnight delivery because I needed to run out of town for a few days. Here is the envelope that arrived last Thursday.
Below are the contents of the envelope. On the left 3 marked queens (mine) and on the right five marked and clipped wing queens(Mike's).
What is a marked and clipped queen? See the bright spot on the picture below. That’s the queen with a painted dot on her thorax. It makes it easier to spot her next time I’m looking for her in the hive. A Clipped queen is a queen that had one or two of its wings clipped off. It doesn’t prevent her and the hive from attempting to swarm away, it just prevents her from getting very far. Since the workers won’t leave her behind, the swarm is usually found in a cluster on the floor right outside the hive, making it easy to collect and re-hive somewhere new.

One of the few tips to re-queen is to not use a lot of smoke. Well, when the hive has an attitude smoke is your friend. Best advice I can give anyone, is to have a second set of eyes. I asked Mike from Mike’s farm to come over and be my second set of eyes. We had to completely dismantle 2 out of the 3 hives to find two of the queens. Below is a picture of Mike inspecting one of the frames. Notice the body below is lacking any frames at that point.
My strategy was to have spare hive bodies, and inspect frame by frame for the queen. The 1st queen we didn’t find until every frame was out. Mike eventually spotted her on the bottom of the hive stand. She was making a run for the underside. The second we completely dismantle and couldn’t find her on the stand once all the frames were out. To make sure she wasn’t there I took the hive body some 20 feet away, shook all the bees off, and returned to the location. I figured if she was in there hiding, all the bees should be able to fly back, but not her. Laying queens can’t fly; it takes them days to slim down into shape to fly. By then she surely would have died before being able to return to the hive. The draw back of shaking all the bees out is then you have tons of bees fling around highly upset at the world. As we were putting the hive back together, Mike caught sight of her on one of the frames. We missed her on the way out.The queen in the 3rd hive we couldn’t find. We also couldn’t find but one frame of eggs. This is a strong hive and I had decided to create a week split. I’m hoping the queen went in the weak split or she was missing in action all together for what ever reason.

No comments:

Powered by WebRing.
Powered by WebRing.