Whidbey Island Washington Beekeeping & Honeybees - Lavender Honey - Green Road Farm - Tim Walsh

Week 11 – 13 ~ Requeening

RequeeningThe IdeaHives need a Queen. A hive without a queen produce no brood (baby bees), no new comb and potentially produce only drones (male bees). The hive might build a queen cell, insert an egg into a cell and feed it royal jelly and produce another queen, but that queen will be of unknown quality. It might be a good layer and mellow or not. So most beekeepers buy a queen bee from a reliable source and introduce her to the queen-less hive.

July 6th 2008

Things are very quiet in the hive….no capped brood, no uncapped larva, no eggs, decreasing numbers of bees, no comb building, no supercedure cells, lots of swarm cells …hmmm maybe I don’t have a queen. Each hive has now swarmed. One left for good and I captured the other one. I did find a queen cell in one of the hives. As you can see the worker bees are all produced in all those little hexagon cells and the queen gets that big long droopy cell to grow in. A Queen is just a worker bee who gets this larger cell and is fed royal jelly instead of honey while growing.

Of course, being a newbie beekeeper I removed this queen cell instead of letting it emerge. I guess it doesn’t really matter as it sounds like you generally want to replace new queens with a queen from a proven Apiary..but I could have left it and it may have been a mellow queen and a good layer.

As I had removed the queen in waiting I correctly started suspecting that there might not be queens in either of the first two hive I went ahead and ordered two Italian queens from Sheri Pendell at Stonyford Apiaries.

Sheri Pendell
PO Box 40
Stonyford, CA. 95979


United States
By phone at: (530) 963-3062

+15309633063 Fax

She shipped them via postal mail and I should get them in a few days. Bees in the mail how funny.

Now I could be wrong. It sounds like I could have queens in each and they just haven’t started laying. It can take up to a month for a queen to be created and then start laying eggs. I will search the frames thoroughly looking for a queen.

July 12th 2008

The bees Beeatrice & Penelobee have arrived!

They are in a manila envelope with two boxes with 6 workers and a marked queen inside. Pretty cool.

I gave them some water by putting my finger under a faucet and transferring it to the screen on the little boxes. I will keep them in a dark and ventilated envelope and bring them up to the apiary tomorrow.

They have been traveling since Tuesday…five days..but they do have a lot of food on the one end of the box although it has disrupted the normal course of their activity. One end of the queen box has a cork in it and the other has a candy plug. The idea is that you put the box in the hive and by the time the candy is eaten ant the queen is released the bees in the hive have accepted her. The general practice is to wait 24 hours after removing a queen from hive to introduce a new one. I don’t think I have any queens in either hive so I will do a quick look through and place the new queens in the hive.

July 13 2008

I started the process of introducing the new queens around 9:30 am. The hives were very quiet. There were no bees coming or going. The temperature was in the high 50’s, the sun was shining…quite the nice morning.

I gave Beeatrice and Penelabee a few more drops of water and then searched the hives for a queen. In the hive that was originally fiesty there was still no brood and I did not see a queen. The hive has mellowed a lot probably due to the original taking off in the swarm. They are busy capping a lot of honey though.

The hive that was always mellow still is mellow and I did find a queen. She was running all over the foundation trying to hide or so it appeared. I was able to corral her into an old queen capsule along with a few other worker bees and took her away.

I added the new queens (the wrong way) still in their containers into the middle of the hive. The picture below illustrates the wrong way because the screen will be pressed into the frame beside it.

I later corrected the postion of the screen so it would not be pressed up against the comb in the neighboring frame.  Below is the correct way.

There is quite a bit of interest in the new queen. It is likely that they would kill her if she were to be let loose. I have read that the hive should be queen-less for 24 hours before introducing the new queen. I did not know this when I introduced the queen into the hive that had a queen. I guess we will see what happens. I did not look really closely for a queen in the other hive. I should have but I got carried away looking for brood and forgot to really look hard for a queen.

July 20th 2008

I drove up early Sunday morning wondering if I would find a queen with a big red dot on her thorax laying lifeless outside the hive. The workers do a great job of getting rid of dead bees and debri in the hive. They drag everything to the front of the hive and kick it to the curb. This would be the first place to look for the new queens if they were killed.

I opened the first hive and noticed lots of burr comb branching between the two frames that held the queen containor in place.

I could see that the candy plug had been eaten through to the inside of the cage and the queen had been released…but where was she?

I gently pried the frames apart and in one of the middle ones I quickly discovered a New Queen scurrying around, seemingly disturbed at the hive being handled. I took a few photos and noticed new brood, new larva and many busy bees.

I checked the other hive and again found the same thing…new burr comb, an empty queen container, new brood, new larva and a Queen with a big red dot on her thorax.

The hive that contained the swarm also had new brood and new larva. I was also able to spot the queen. The queens really are quite a bit longer than the other bees. Their wings look like they are too small for their bodies. The red dot helps but it is actually not too hard to spot them.

You can see the unmarked swarm queen as well as the little white larva in the cells at the bottom of the comb.

Go to weeks 14 & 15




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