Confused - Queen piping

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Field Bee
Jul 18, 2009
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Hive Type
sorry in advance for the long post.

I put a couple of new (full) colonies onto a new Farm out apiary site last weekend and was feeling quite happy with myself. I pass the site with my daily commute so it is very handy. Last Thursday, just popped in to see what they were up to, no intention of opening the hive, just watch them come and go.

I was shocked to see a couple of hundred bees on the floor under the hive, most dead and some very sluggish. This is being caused by the bees trying to get back into the hive via the OMF. They have found a nectar/pollen source that is 180 degrees from the entrance, also, the old hive they were in had a solid floor and was much nearer the ground. I think that this will resolve itself over the next couple of weeks.

In a state of panic, I looked into the hive to see what was left inside expecting disaster, but there was a very healthy number of bees all over the frames, but as I lifted one, I heard a queen piping. I could also feel the piping vibrating through the frame. First thought in my mind was "do not panic, do not do anything un-planned". So I closed the hive up and and then planned my next move.

Today was forecast good weather, so I read up all I could on piping (virgin and about to emerge queens etc),swarming, supercedure, etc etc. spoke to the guy who supplied the colony (very helpful) and today did a full inspection.

Outcome, hive doing very well, stores, 7 frames of brood and 1 full frame of eggs, queen found she was already clipped but not marked, marked the queen and returned, all OK. NO Queen cells, a few play cups from last year and that is that.

So it must have been the old queen (2009) that was piping, and I cannot find any reference to that.

Your thoughts guys?
Some references mention that the old queen will pipe to convince the workers that she is still in top form and worth continuing with.

I dont think there has to be virgins present for the old girl to do this, but i have no proof.
A worker bee doing a waggle dance sometimes pips.

Correct. When a house bee is watching a dance, it will emit a "squeek/pipe" which halts the dancer and causes it to provide a drop of nectar.

I think it's detailed in Winston if you want to read more.

Thats interesting Adam,I have often seen them do it but had no idea why..

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