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just a thought on queen loss

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RoseCottage 

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I think for one of our hives this year it was the best thing that happened to them.

They survived the winter well, expanded well, and brought in lots of stores.
Then she died. I don't think she swarmed due to the volume of bees. She was probably superseded. It was the first time we lost our a queen and we handled it poorly - it took us longer than it should to recognise she had gone and to help them recover.

The bees just dealt with it queen cells etc but I kept scratching them out and not understanding what I was seeing.

All the while the colony was bringing in stores.

Eventually the colony sorted things, and me, out and a new docile queen started laying.
There was a dip in numbers for a while but this coincided with a quiet period for forage.

We have taken 140lb of honey from them and they have a strong colony with good brood stores and another super to come off.
The period without the queen really helped them build their stores up.

The queen is dead, long live the queen!
 

Heather 

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Just goes to show- if bees do something- it is for a reason - ask yourself why - and thoroughly search before you destroy their efforts. Oh yes, bee keeping is a huge learning curve.
 

drstitson 

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1. bees do things for a reason - they have had millions of years to evolve to best exploit their niche in the ecosystem.
2. we don't help them by importing/exporting bees and diseases from diverse places and using nasty cocktails of chemicals in their environment.
3. we expect them to tolerate continued use of what was essentially victorian industrialisation of their existence.

re. 1. perhaps prof reitnicks would be better off developing a system to capture hi-res images of frames (together with weights) that can be used to score in a high level of detail exactly what is happening in each hive when inspected. you could then get a detailed record of stores, types of pollen, numbers and stages of development of brood etc.
 
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RC, if it was supercedure you shouldn't have seen many queen cells to scratch out. Sounds like they were trying to swarm and may even have done so - if the queen was clipped or was damaged in some way so she was a none flyer then all the bees would have returned to the hive.

Fortunately, you must have missed at least one queen cell and they raised a new queen from that.

I have learned this lesson to my cost, never scratch out all the queen cells until you are absolutely sure there is a laying queen still in there, ideally by seeing her or at least seeing eggs. Once you know whether there is a functioning queen present or not you can decide what to - but the action taken is different depending on the presence or absence of the queen.
 

oliver90owner 

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The bees just dealt with it queen cells etc but I kept scratching them out and not understanding what I was seeing.

Chronologically, if one hive we are talking about here, I don't quite understand the order of things......like, what was supplying eggs to keep making queen cells, for you to 'keep scratching them out'? A time-base might be useful. RT has the process tied down nicely.

IF you removed a supercedure cell, you may have precipitated swarm cell production, but the queen would still have been there. They only make emergency cells when Q- and for about 6 days before becoming 'hopelessly Q-'.

Regards, RAB
 

Heather 

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Yes, on the cards- I was called out to a swarm today-shame I missed the phone call! :p Surely the last this year. But someone in Brighton collected- now get it through the winter- or better still, bulk up a small colony he already has.
 

RoseCottage 

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Rab,
The actual chronology is a bit foggy now but at the time I posted on this. You and others gave some excellent advice. In particular you disected the chronology like a surgeon.

I am very grateful and have bookmarked the thread to be read again over the winter/spring to help me prep for next year.

All the best,
Sam
 

Poly Hive 

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We all make mistakes, the trick is to learn from them and avoid in future.

The real art of beekeeping is to learn to read the colony aka
"listen to the bees".

As for Victorian industrialisation that is a concept I do not recognise. Man has been learning to manage nature for a very long time. If you cannot accept that concept then you have no understanding of the landscape you see every day.

Bees do very well in managed hives and arguably better than in the wild.

PH
 
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