Beemaster's International Beekeeping Forum

BEEKEEPING LEARNING CENTER => GENERAL BEEKEEPING - MAIN POSTING FORUM. => Topic started by: Ben Framed on May 25, 2020, 01:03:38 am

Title: Lost Queens
Post by: Ben Framed on May 25, 2020, 01:03:38 am
One thing I have noticed here, the word formic seems to bring a barrage of scrutiny. One of the chief reasons that I have 
noticed is the reason of loss of queens. I wonder why this seems to affect the queens so frequently? I am intrigued with the success of formic except for the problem associated with queen loss that seems to be mentioned in almost all research pertaining to formic. The professors at West Virginia made great strides (killing mites) when doing the one day formic flash treatment program. There are warnings and strict guidelines that must be followed. (ratio of mix per hive size, temperature, etc).

We have discussed formic here more than once. Mr Live Oak definitely was totally against formic because of the loss of some of his queens if I remember correctly. There are others here that also do not like the idea of formic, I suppose for the same reasons. However the proof of mite destruction with the one day (organtic) formic flash treatments are so impressive. But again, back to the problem of queen loss, or possible queen loss, seems to throw a cold wet cooler of water on the idea.  I ask for your patience and humor me as I, as usual, am thinking out of the box. I have a what if question, along with spin off questions.

What if, just before the flash treatment, we were to remove the queens for their protection while doing the one day flash treatment. What kind of problems would or could we run into with the queen removed for just one day? Would the bees attempt to raise new queens with mama gone for just one day. Would this process be shucked because of the formic gas in the hive, causing to much confusion to make emergency queen cells which may be to our advantage? Would the pheromone scent be lost as far as reconazation goes to the hive and queens in just one day? Would there be a solid way to remove these queens for the day successfully such as, for example, having placed her in a special cage or case taped to the side of the hive with several attendees as her nursing escorts and entourage for example? Any deep thoughts and comments, will be appreciated. 

Phillip Hall
Title: Re: Lost Queens
Post by: .30WCF on May 25, 2020, 01:58:05 am
A queen cage zip tied to the bottom side of the bottom screen or just set on the landing board once the treatment is over and it?s had time to dissipate some?

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Title: Re: Lost Queens
Post by: Ben Framed on May 26, 2020, 10:40:10 am
I asked a few questions that I would really hope to know the answers too. I suppose I could conduct the experiment myself and answer my own questions lol.  Especially since the opinion of formic here, mostly, seems to be thumbs down. But even so, I will ask for your unbiased (opinion), open minded answer to one of the questions. While using formic folks have complained of losing queens. I have wondered why queens are so frequently lost to fomic even at times when formic flash treatment is administered with the proper directions and temperatures, and wonder if the reason could be, the queens may already have been infected with a virus in the beginning and may possibly be weak to begin with? Or possibly be weakened from the varroa already sucking the actual queens fat bodies? If that were the case we don't need the sickly queens anyway? Food for thought.

Phillip Hall
Title: Lost Queens
Post by: TheHoneyPump on May 26, 2020, 10:53:57 am
The experiment may be as follows:
- remove the queen, cage her, put the cage in a healthy hive /nuc to care for her, queenbank
- do the formic treatment, wait a day or two for that to dissipate.
- go look for started queen cells, seek and destroy
- fast-reintroduce the queen by either: in cage with half a minimarshmallow, or heavily smoke the hive and direct release her, or soak everyone with syrup/hbh and direct release her.

I have a post with my thoughts on formic in a different thread somewhere.  Perhaps consider copy/paste that here to contribute to the discussion.
Title: Re: Lost Queens
Post by: Ben Framed on May 26, 2020, 11:02:55 am
Thanks Mr HP. for the sound common sense advice. I realize this would not be time effective for larger professional keepers with many many hives. But for singling out hives that may show a much higher than normal mite count, and may be in real danger, this instant mite destruction may be of some value. At the very least, it would eliminate a mite bomb if in the rare case that such a hive were to reach this point.  And if the theory of reply number 2 is correct, it may best to let her die and replace her anyway?
Title: Lost Queens
Post by: TheHoneyPump on May 26, 2020, 01:35:29 pm
I see no difference in leaving her walk the hive vs caging her in the hive during treatment. If the goal is to save her from formic exposure risk she has to come out.
As for if she is sick or not and let the formic polish her off. ... imho the health of the queen is written in the combs and told by the bees behaviour.  Read those first to determine if she is worth saving.
Why save a sick or poor queen?  Why let a good queen die of exposure?
Title: Re: Lost Queens
Post by: Ben Framed on May 26, 2020, 02:37:44 pm
Yes good reasoning Mr HP thanks.
Title: Re: Lost Queens
Post by: van from Arkansas on May 26, 2020, 04:37:54 pm
Mr. Phil, good afternoon fella.  For your concerns, I provide my experience regarding releasing bees, NOT queens.

I yearly make starter hives: graft, then wait two days then, then direct release thousands of the bees of the starter hive back into the original hive.  The bees in the original hive accept their separated sisters after two days without a problem.  I do this every year, several times a year as I make starter hives then combine all the bees back together to make the finisher hive with the queen excluded.

So, in brief, two days separation and recombination of bees works for me.  I don?t spray the bees with anything, nor smoke other than normal if needed.  Now: the question is relative to a queen however I can only apply to bees by direct experience of recombination.  Gives a fella something to consider.  Hope this text helps.

Title: Re: Lost Queens
Post by: Ben Framed on May 26, 2020, 07:32:08 pm

Yes that helps Mr Van, good infromation. Thank you.
Title: Re: Lost Queens
Post by: Ben Framed on May 29, 2020, 11:59:24 am
FYI for those of you which may be interested. Measures were used in order to reduce the loss of Queens as briefly described in the abstract below. I am leaning toward the removal of queens before the flash treatment in order to protect valued queens.  Look closely at the percentage of Varroa that was wiped out (inside capped brood). Is this not very encouraging?  I may in the future do an experiment as described while incorporation suggestions from Mr HP and others in the above post. What are your thoughts? Is this a waste of time and effort? Or does this look promising to you?

123 James W. Amrine, Jr. , Robert C. Noel and David Webb
1. Division of Plant and Soil Science, West Virginia University, PO Box 6108, Morgantown, WV 26506, U.S.A. (e-mail:; 2. 108 Blackiston Avenue, Cumberland, MD 21502, U.S.A. (e-mail:; 3. 901 Elkcam Blvd., Cocoa, FL 32927 (e-mail:
ABSTRACT - We used the 50% formic acid fumigator to treat 51 honey bee colonies in Florida on April 2, August 16 and October 23, 2006 and January 2, 2007, to control varroa mites. Treatments consisted of 90 to 110 ml of 50% formic acid mixed with 15 ml of Honey-B-HealthyTM essential oil concentrate to prevent queen losses. The fumigator was applied during daylight hours to each hive, screened bottoms were cov- ered, openings taped over, and the entrance reduced to 3/8? by 3 1/2? (0.95 cm x 8.9 cm) and removed the next day after from 17 to 23.3 hours. Average mortality of varroa mites in capped drone cells was 93% (92.8% to 98.8%) (after adjustment for Abbott?s correction for control mortality). Capped drone cells in old black comb had the lowest mortalities (66% to 84%): less of the 50% formic acid vapor was able to pene- trate the thicker cappings.
Key words - Acari, Varroidae, varroa mites, formic acid fumigation, control, U.S.A.