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Author Topic: Queen Mystery  (Read 499 times)

Online Ben Framed

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Queen Mystery
« on: April 01, 2021, 01:48:29 am »
I have a mystery question.
After the big freeze, as soon as it warmed up enough, I went through my hives. They were thriving! The deep freeze did not seem to bother them except for one thing that has me puzzled.
 
Late last fall just before the temperature dropped, I made sure all was prepared for winter to the best of my ability. All had marked queens. Some red, some green, and some blue. (I try and follow the year queen color most of the time. Now, after the big freeze, I had trouble finding some of these queens. Even though I had plenty of eggs, larva, and brood, not to mention VERY strong with bees!

After looking more closely on next inspection I found most of them. The ones that were hard to find were unmarked. Now I know they did not swarm this past winter and did not have time to swarm after the big freeze before I had a chance to go deep into them. ( First warm enough day to really explore) Plus this is the best shape my bees have ever been in, coming out of winter! Most every hive has several frames of capped brood, eggs, and larva. Plus bees galore.  I have found only one queen cell. Now what happened  to the marked queens?  😂 lol.

Could it be that there were possibly two queens in sone of these hives going into winter with the unmarked queens going unnoticed, and the bees knocked off the old queens sometime between late fall and late winter? I have heard of hives with two queens. Any ideas?
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline Oldbeavo

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Re: Queen Mystery
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2021, 05:36:28 am »
You probably had some early supersedes, marking queens is good, but it really makes you realize how often bees change queens.
Marking also allows you to find queens that did not swarm in Spring, if it is a good hive then the non swarming is a positive for that queen.
I think in Norway there is a breeding program that will only breed off second year queens, and they have bred out some of the swarming tendencies.
Swarming is a pain as you take a production loss from the hive. lose a good queen for a "maybe good". Or the young queen doesn't get back from a mating flight and you have queenless hive. There is bad weather at mating time and the new queen is poorly mated, then later you have a supersedure, or she is just OK, bees tolerate her and the hive is below average and you have to requeeen at $35 per queen.
Got off topic with my rant.

Online Ben Framed

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Re: Queen Mystery
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2021, 06:41:10 am »
Thanks Oldbeavo.  In my area the winter temperatures range from 23f  or -5c  to  50f or 10c .   Usually somewhere in between. The 50f - 10c days are not as often. February is usually one of our colder months. This year was no exception. The big freeze came this year in February. -17c  was the low with below freezing constant for over two weeks. Actually at this minute it is 38f or 3c. (Uncommon for April here)

I thought of superseder but wrote it off due to this cold winter.  I do not know how a Superseder queen could have made a mating flight here anytime this winter, even if their were drones. Unless she was hatched late, mated, and then overwintered in the hive with the marked queen? LATER Last fall drones were almost non-existent here going into winter. I told my wife I bet this will be a cold winter since there are no drones overwintering as in previous years. You and I talked about my many drones overwintering a season or two ago and I remember you telling me when you see a lot of drones overwintering that was a good sign, That was nit the case this year.

This information adds to the mystery.  I don?t see how a superseder was possible during my winter or coming out of winter unless she was already there going into winter? And that, I confess, is just a wild guess! lol  Taking these circumstances in consideration is why I finally decided to post this mystery  here. 

How are things going for you and your bees? Did you make a good honey crop this year?
« Last Edit: April 01, 2021, 07:13:08 am by Ben Framed »
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Online Ben Framed

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Re: Queen Mystery
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2021, 07:08:15 am »
I asked this question to Joe May on one of his videos in the comment section last night. I just noticed
Ed Devault replied:
"The worker bees peeled off the paint on the Queen....It happens all the time for me....I've saw some of my marked Queens having only a speck or two of paint on them....for whatever reason...the workers don?t like their Queen being marked...."

I think that is a good theory except in fairness to Ed I forgot to mention the different year colors. Some of theses queens had been Marked for 3 years while others were marked for only a year. I suppose it can be a combination of answers to this queen mystery?
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline cao

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Re: Queen Mystery
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2021, 12:23:47 pm »
I would say that you had a two queen hive last fall and over the winter they decided to get rid of the older queen.

Online Ben Framed

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Re: Queen Mystery
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2021, 02:42:25 pm »
I would say that you had a two queen hive last fall and over the winter they decided to get rid of the older queen.
I
Thanks Cao.  I believe that is realistic possibility and one I am leaning toward  In fairness to Ed and Joe, which responded on YouTube, I also think some of the older ones could have had the rest of their paint taken off by the nurse or workers. That paint had been there a long time. Maybe a combination? Do you mark your queens?
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Online CoolBees

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Re: Queen Mystery
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2021, 02:45:08 pm »
I would say that you had a two queen hive last fall and over the winter they decided to get rid of the older queen.

I wonder how often it happens - that hives go into winter with 2 queens?
You cannot permanently help men by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves - Abraham Lincoln

Online Ben Framed

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Re: Queen Mystery
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2021, 02:50:45 pm »
I would say that you had a two queen hive last fall and over the winter they decided to get rid of the older queen.

I wonder how often it happens - that hives go into winter with 2 queens?

That?s a good question Alan. Though I have heard talk of this, I do know know the answer. Since I have been here, the subject of 2 queens in a hive has been raised more than once. I don?t know any details. But I would like to know that answer as well. I also recall that you had a queen mate in December in your area and climate a year or so ago?
« Last Edit: April 01, 2021, 03:04:09 pm by Ben Framed »
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Online CoolBees

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Re: Queen Mystery
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2021, 03:15:45 pm »

That?s a good question Alan. Though I have heard talk of this, I do know know the answer. Since I have been here, the subject of 2 queens in a hive has been raised more than once. I don?t know any details. But I would like to know that answer as well. I also recall that you had a queen mate in December in your area and climate a year or so ago?

Yes. She hatched on Jan 1, 2020 I think it was. I've had several now that have mated in 50 to 55 degree weather.

I just had a hive swarm on Mar 20th. I watched it leave the hive and land in a nearby tree. It took about an hour for them to settle onto the tree. I captured the swarm - first one of the season. Later that day, I checked the original hive. I found brood & eggs of all sizes - no queen cells. So I waited.

Yesterday, I opened the original hive again - thinking I'd maybe find QC's and make some splits. The whole hive is laid up in eggs & brood. Found a beautiful, peaceful queen. ... so she's been there for some time. That means that that hive had 2 queens for a while now, prior to the swarm.

BTW - this is the same hive that produced the New Years Day Queen. (She was superceded a few months later). ... so it was her daughter that swarmed.
You cannot permanently help men by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves - Abraham Lincoln

Offline cao

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Re: Queen Mystery
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2021, 02:47:03 am »
Do you mark your queens?

No.  I haven't found it necessary as I have yet to start grafting.  I would probably start keeping track of queens and their offspring at some point then.

I wonder how often it happens - that hives go into winter with 2 queens?

I would say that it happens more often than you think.  Unless a beekeeper is looking for it, they would only notice it if they happened to see both during an inspection late in the fall.  I personally don't go that deep into my hives in the fall.  I check for brood and what there stores look like and then I am out of the hive.  So the odds of me finding 2 queen is slim at best.


Online Ben Framed

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Re: Queen Mystery
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2021, 07:39:53 am »
Do you mark your queens?

No.  I haven't found it necessary as I have yet to start grafting.  I would probably start keeping track of queens and their offspring at some point then.

I wonder how often it happens - that hives go into winter with 2 queens?


I would say that it happens more often than you think.  Unless a beekeeper is looking for it, they would only notice it if they happened to see both during an inspection late in the fall.  I personally don't go that deep into my hives in the fall.  I check for brood and what there stores look like and then I am out of the hive.  So the odds of me finding 2 queen is slim at best.


Thanks Cao. I go deep in the Fall just because I want to see lol. (I still consider myself a new beekeeper because I have much to learn and still like to see the queen before I put them to rest in late Fall 😊. But when I see the queen in the Fall, I stop looking for another one. Your answer is appreciated and makes sense to me.
Could it be Natures way of assuring that the colony has a fair shot at survival in case the older queen dies during the winter?
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Online CoolBees

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Re: Queen Mystery
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2021, 01:41:37 pm »

I wonder how often it happens - that hives go into winter with 2 queens?

I would say that it happens more often than you think. ...

I think your right. It seems to me there is a lot in beekeeping that is know and understood ... and a lot that isn't.
You cannot permanently help men by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves - Abraham Lincoln

Offline TheHoneyPump

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Re: Queen Mystery
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2021, 02:04:54 am »
I have seen:
- the paint chewed off a queen over winter
- two laying queens in the spring
- queenless hive in the fall make it through to spring just fine, give them a new caged queen and away they go.
- a different laying queen in the spring than what I saw in the fall. Black in fall, leather/gold in spring.
- spring drone layers, which are usually a fall supercedure where the new fall queen did not get to mate. She winters fine then lays drones only in spring.
So many possible scenarios, and they all do happen.
I like the comment above about how marking queens gives you a surprising look into how often a hive actually successfully changes queens itself.  I like hives like that which take care of themselves.
Try not to get attached to queens. Get attached to the hive, of which A queen is just one part of the whole. Manage at the hive level. It is much more enjoyable and less stressful that way. 
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Offline Oldbeavo

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Re: Queen Mystery
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2021, 06:28:04 pm »
Quite often we will fund a hive that is off the pace a bit, we will go looking for brood quality and quantity, and to find the queen when you come across a supercedure cell. We just put it back together and let the bees be bees.
We do mark queens as we find them, would be about 60-70% marked. If she is marked it is written on the lid, and yes it is surprising how often hives change queens.
Very young queens are too silly to mark, they are running around and if you miss grabbing them the first time we have had them fly off. Wait till the are laying, settled and slower.

Offline beesnweeds

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Re: Queen Mystery
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2021, 10:29:57 pm »
I mark all my queens and rarely find a marked mother and an unmarked daughter queen, its always in the fall for some reason.  Once I see a marked queen I stop looking anyway.  But I believe it happens more often than we think.  I sometimes (not always) have one or two unmarked queens in the spring.  I'll try and find the photo of the mother and daughter queens and post it.
Everyone loves a worker.... until its laying.