Two more nucs and a queen in her cage arrived at our house last night. I can’t install the nucs or do anything with the bees today due to high winds in our area. The new queen is intended for one of our hives that may be queenless (Hive #1). If it isn’t queenless, we plan to requeen it anyway (squish the old queen and replace it with the new queen). I have a general idea of how to do that. My only concern is finding the old queen first. We’ve never been able to spot the queens in either of our hives. Can we introduce a new queen to a hive that already has a queen without “dispatching” the old queen first? Probably not. I’m not sure what we’ll do if we can’t find the old queen. Hopefully we’ll have the assistance of a local experienced beekeeper (I should say the local experienced beekeeper) to guide us through the process. Whatever happens, I’ll tell you about in a day or two. In the meantime, here’s a short video of the queen in her cage.


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Updates will appear in the comments.

6 Responses to “Queen Bee in a Cage”

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  1. Phillip says:

    I got a call from our local beekeeping expert. He’s coming by in the morning to help us requeen the hive.

    I also just happened to check on the queen in the cage. It wasn’t moving and the attendant bees looked half dead too. They must have got too cold. So I brought the cage into the bathroom, turned on the heat, placed the cage close to the heat and the bees and the queen came back to life.

    They’ll be spending the night in the bathroom with the door closed and the heat on a bit, enough to keep them warm.

    That was a close one.

  2. Phillip says:

    Uh-oh. It looks like I spoke to soon. I have the bees in a warm room now, and they seemed to come back to life for a few minutes. But they’re not looking too alive now. Hopefully the queen won’t be dead in the morning, but it’s not looking good.

    It’s too bad she had to spend two days stuck in a cage before I could put in a the new hive.

    I don’t think there’s anything simple and easy about beekeeping. It’s nice when things work out, but man, there are so many things that can go wrong… it’s crazy.

  3. Rusty says:

    Did you give them some water? Just spread a little on the screen with your finger. It can make a big difference.

    • Phillip says:

      Yup. I gave them some water off my finger. Maybe too much water.

      I just woke up and checked the cage. No deaths. {Sigh.} So far so good. They still don’t seem too active, but they’re alive. I suppose I’d get a little lethargic if I was stuck in a tiny cage for a few days too.

      Hopefully the queen can make it for another four hours.

      I didn’t know this, but I’m supposed to remove the attendant bees before I put her cage in the hive.

  4. Rusty says:

    Phillip,

    There is no need to remove attendants. Read this: http://www.strachanbees.com/queen_intro.html. I have never once removed attendants and never had a problem.

    • Phillip says:

      Thanks, Rusty. My local beekeeping expert (hereafter The A-Man) and the people who sold us the queen and nucs recommended removing the attendants. I’ve never heard of that before, but I didn’t question it. The A-Man is my master now, and if he says jump, I jump. But I did wonder about that too.

      We inspected only the top box of the hive, Hive #1, the mean one. It appears as if the top box is being used mostly for honey stores. A few open frames in the middle though. The queen was spotted by The A-Man on a middle frame right away. She was huge, but the bees in that hive have been mean lately and have often been a little pesky and unfriendly. So he squooshed her and that was enough. We didn’t inspect the bottom box. We sealed up the hive then. We’ll add the new queen later this afternoon. We have a chance of rain tomorrow, so we have to do it today.

      We did a full inspection of our second hive, and although it’s not over flowing with worker brood, we did spot the queen for the first time ever, which was thrilling, and The A-Man said we should have a honey super on it ASAP. So we added a honey super after the inspection and that’s it. Done deal.

      The A-Man suggested we use queen excluders. I’ve never been on board with that practice, but I may do what I’m told on that one too. We’ll see.

      We also installed our two new nucs. Easy peasy. It was like having a new set of kids and saying, “This time we’ll get it right.” It was a good feeling.

      No photos. No videos. It was all just for us today.

      We were pleased to hear from The A-Man that both of our hives will produce honey this year. He told us that the second we opened each hive. He was impressed. I asked him what was so impressive, and he pointed out the white comb near the top bars that, in his experience, indicates the bees are making honey and are already running out room for it. The foundationless situation may slow down the honey production a bit, but not completely. He thinks we’ll get plenty of honey. That was great to hear, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

      I still plan to migrate all the foundationless frames to a single hive, but we probably won’t mess with anything again for a while. No experiments. Nothing fancy. Stick with what works around here.

      I may post photos or a video later after we put the queen in.

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