Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Missing: Queen Last Seen: Flying

On April 8th I received a package of Italian honeybees in the mail.  Installing the package was pretty uneventful and I closed up the hive with the plan to open the hive and check for queen release on the 17th.  Well, to my disappointment during inspection yesterday, the queen was not released.  When I looked closer at the queen cage I realized there was still a cork in the hole where the candy was put; and further, the cork was in there so far that it would literally take something like a corkscrew to get it out.  So without further hesitation, I pried open the screen and released the queen who took off flying, landing on the outside of the brood box, and then disappearing.  Needless to say, I was pretty pissed because I called the company before the package arrived and asked if there was a cork to be removed and being told, "No, the candy is already there, just put it in the hive."  After the hive inspection, I called the company and the person who answered the phone was somewhat empathetic that I was given the wrong information by one of her helpers during the busy season.

But what happens now?  I don't know where the queen went, if she found the hive, and if the colony will still even accept her as the queen if she finds her way home.  One thing I did notice were bees fanning at the tops of the frame when I removed the queen cage.  Hopefully the fanning signals the queen where home is and that they still accept her.  I did check the few frames that had drawn comb in the hive and there were no eggs or drone cells which could indicate a false queen.  I was surprised to find a full frame of uncapped nectar.  With the nectar flow already here, I only fed them twice.  The hive otherwise seems to be doing okay.  Their population numbers are still high and they where really quiet and calm.

I did open the other hive that survived the winter (called The Warrior Hive), hoping to transfer a frame of eggs and brood to the new hive, but they were pretty annoyed with all of the comb I was breaking trying to separate frames and brood boxes so before their hum escalated too high, I closed up the hive.  I have a hunch this hive will swarm this spring and I don't want to create any undue stress for them.

Check this post in a few days for an update on the new hive.  I will be inspecting frames for the queen and some eggs.

The queen cage has some drawn wax inside.  The workers that were assisting her were dead---not sure what that indicates.  Did the queen kill them? 

UPDATE 4-21-2013
The queen was found in the hive today during inspection!   She was large in size and inspecting cells.  I couldn't see any eggs mainly because there were so many bees.  All of the cells I could see contained nectar.  The bees have been drawing out more comb in the hive.


warren April 18, 2013 at 1:57 PM  

Give it a week or so...she make make her way back in and it may take awhile to get her in the swing of laying again. For future reference, many queen cages come with a cork in both ends. One end is completely open besides the cork. That's how the queen producer loads her into the cage. The other end has candy and a cork. Sometimes they remove that cork, sometimes not. If you look at an angle inside the cage, you can see candy in one end. The cork in that end is safe to remove...the bees will eat the candy and free the queen.

Robin Edmundson April 18, 2013 at 2:49 PM  

Same thing happened to me last year. The queen took off as soon as we let her out. Good news, though. She came back and has been a fabulous queen since then. Fingers crossed yours will come back, too.

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A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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