Queen clipping

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Had a balling incident yesterday whilst clipping white queens from last season. Thought I’d share my learning - was stressful!

Marked and clipped 3 queens, no problems. Picked up in right hand by wings, transferred to left and clasped by thorax. Marked (only where needed) then clipped 1/3rd off one forewing while paint dried. Put queen back on frame to watch bee behaviour, fine, closed up. Purpose was to clip only so didn’t hang around going through, quick look through to check brood and stores. I changed gloves between each colony to keep pheromone from different queens apart.

4th colony, v populous and quite frenzied re pollen and nectar coming in. Couldn’t find queen first pass. Knew her mark was v feint from last time I saw her. Found her second pass through. Bees were in quite an excited state and a few starting to ping off veil (feisty colony next door that I need to separately deal with soon).

Put queen back on frame and excitement to see her back swiftly followed by bees mounting her and covering her. Didn’t seem normal retinue behaviour. Sprayed ‘ball’ with water sprayer and grabbed queen back. After rummaging through limited kit with me, found an old queen cage. No fondant. Scraped some wax and honey into release portion of cage (that part positioned upside down), so wax and honey would take a while to eat her out. I placed queen between 2 frames brood in a new box, above the main brood box with foragers below.

She was alive when I left her and she was probably more shaken than me, will find out later whether she has been accepted back after a slow(er) release

Learning:
-Do not clip queens when a colony is in a foraging frenzied state. Leave clipping to another time if don’t find her first pass. Read the bees first rather than being determined to get the job done

-Check behaviour when putting queen back on comb with nurse bees, keep away from fliers

-Always have water sprayer to hand when clipping queens. Always have spare cages and means of hanging between brood frames (I had to improvise)

I will still continue to clip queens but after this incident, as the benefits outweigh the risks. However need to be careful and take precautions. Bit like learning to ride a bike I will try to finish clipping this week, whilst weather good and before swarming starts. I always leave clipping of new queens til the start of the following season once the queen is very well established.

Understand clipping isn’t for everyone but posting to share the experience and help anyone else thinking of clipping. Welcome others with clipping experience, to give any other advice and tips, to those of us who want to clip their queens.
 
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I've never plucked up courage to clip my queens!
It's not necessary. It done for the apiarist so they know the queen's age. The bees themselves replace her when she declines. So don't bother !
 
@elainemary I have seen it happened when I have marked some of my queens. I usually close the hive and leave them to it, at the next inspection the queen has always been present and laying well.
The state of the hive may have something to do with it but I do wonder if it's a case of some bees see the reintroduced queen as an imposter (knowing they have a queen) as all bees may not have had time to realise their queen wasn't there anymore. It could also be a bit traumatic for the queen who gets back in agitated triggering balling.
I don't personally clip them and only mark my breeder queens or newly mated be I introduce in a nuc.
 
I have clipped queens 55 years. It is 100% tool to get swarms back from tree tops. It gives time to make artificial swarm and stop the swarming fever.

I do not remember, that bees have balled any queen for clipping. But if they ball one queen, it does not matter compared to escaped swarm.
 
Lost one last year. Did as yourself and on about 5th or 6th Queen in, put her back on the frame, her feet had hardly touched the comb and they were on her. Unfortunately she was dead within seconds as I tried to save her from the ball, took a few stings myself for the trouble.
 
Did as yourself and on about 5th or 6th Queen in
perhaps that could be the answer, you had both been in multiple colonies before the doomed queen, handled multiple queens, therefore your hands would have been dripping with a cocktail of alien queen pheromones...............................................
 
perhaps that could be the answer, you had both been in multiple colonies before the doomed queen, handled multiple queens, therefore your hands would have been dripping with a cocktail of alien queen pheromones...............................................
Very possible in my case as I didn’t wear gloves & all colonies close by each other
 
Very possible in my case as I didn’t wear gloves & all colonies close by each other

To handle queens with gloves? HOW?

Usually gloves have sting odors and dry stings.

It is not possible that when you take a queen between your fingers, it will be dead soon. How can you handle queens at all?

But if the hive see the scissors..... that is abad thing...
 
Unfortunately she was dead within seconds as I tried to save her from the ball,

Such has happened to me sometimes when I have introduced a queen from nuc to a new colony.

When bees do a ball around the queen, it is then better to soak the ball under water. Bees get something else to think then. It is usual, that the home nuc dors not accept the queen back. Queen must be dipped in warm water that odor of venom goes off. The antenna, leg or toes may get venom, and the queen is kaput then.

I have saved tens of queens from balling.
 
To handle queens with gloves? HOW?

Usually gloves have sting odors and dry stings.

It is not possible that when you take a queen between your fingers, it will be dead soon. How can you handle queens at all?

But if the hive see the scissors..... that is abad thing...
exactly, that’s what I said “didn’t wear gloves” handled 1 Queen after the other in bare hands
 
Very possible in my case as I didn’t wear gloves & all colonies close by each other
I changed gloves between colonies as pheromones can be a factor. If I’m just marking I use a Baldock cage and wash that in my bucket of washing soda and spray with water between colonies. I wouldn’t want to have bare hands - propolis; use nitriles. And marigolds in reserve if weather turns! But wouldn’t clip queens then. Nitriles mean hands are v tactile and keep propolis from sticking to queen and potentially damaging her and turning hands yellow!
 
Had a balling incident yesterday whilst clipping white queens from last season. Thought I’d share my learning - was stressful!

Marked and clipped 3 queens, no problems. Picked up in right hand by wings, transferred to left and clasped by thorax. Marked (only where needed) then clipped 1/3rd off one forewing while paint dried. Put queen back on frame to watch bee behaviour, fine, closed up. Purpose was to clip only so didn’t hang around going through, quick look through to check brood and stores. I changed gloves between each colony to keep pheromone from different queens apart.

4th colony, v populous and quite frenzied re pollen and nectar coming in. Couldn’t find queen first pass. Knew her mark was v feint from last time I saw her. Found her second pass through. Bees were in quite an excited state and a few starting to ping off veil (feisty colony next door that I need to separately deal with soon).

Put queen back on frame and excitement to see her back swiftly followed by bees mounting her and covering her. Didn’t seem normal retinue behaviour. Sprayed ‘ball’ with water sprayer and grabbed queen back. After rummaging through limited kit with me, found an old queen cage. No fondant. Scraped some wax and honey into release portion of cage (that part positioned upside down), so wax and honey would take a while to eat her out. I placed queen between 2 frames brood in a new box, above the main brood box with foragers below.

She was alive when I left her and she was probably more shaken than me, will find out later whether she has been accepted back after a slow(er) release

Learning:
-Do not clip queens when a colony is in a foraging frenzied state. Leave clipping to another time if don’t find her first pass. Read the bees first rather than being determined to get the job done

-Check behaviour when putting queen back on comb with nurse bees, keep away from fliers

-Always have water sprayer to hand when clipping queens. Always have spare cages and means of hanging between brood frames (I had to improvise)

I will still continue to clip queens but after this incident, as the benefits outweigh the risks. However need to be careful and take precautions. Bit like learning to ride a bike I will try to finish clipping this week, whilst weather good and before swarming starts. I always leave clipping of new queens til the start of the following season once the queen is very well established.

Understand clipping isn’t for everyone but posting to share the experience and help anyone else thinking of clipping. Welcome others with clipping experience, to give any other advice and tips, to those of us who want to clip their queens.
That's really useful info. We need to clip ours especially as they are at the bottom of the garden. Scary never clipped before!!
 
On the rare occasion I’ve had a queen balled following clipping I’ve splatted a dollop of honey scraped from the comb straight onto her - read this tip a while ago and it seems to work, sort of kill or cure type method!
 
Marked and clipped 3 queens, no problems. Picked up in right hand by wings, transferred to left and clasped by thorax. Marked (only where needed) then clipped 1/3rd off one forewing while paint dried.

Elainemary -off at a tangent sorry -I assume you're right handed.
You picked her up by the wings with the right - was her head facing into your palm or outwards?
You then transferred her to the left holding her thorax- again in which direction?

Back to the thread-I wonder if the smell of the paint had an effect on them.
(But then our own queen only ever smells fresh paint...)
 
One friend told me, and have since followed always put her back middle frame uncapped brood where there are more likely to be nurse bees. Yes had queens balled in the past, but since doing this it has worked. Yes i clip, with out apiaries it is sort of necessary.
 
Elainemary -off at a tangent sorry -I assume you're right handed.
You picked her up by the wings with the right - was her head facing into your palm or outwards?
You then transferred her to the left holding her thorax- again in which direction?

Back to the thread-I wonder if the smell of the paint had an effect on them.
(But then our own queen only ever smells fresh paint...)
exactly, that’s what I said “didn’t wear gloves” handled 1 Queen after the other in bare hands
Right hand with her head facing left hand, so transfer to left so can clip wings. Perhaps an idea to just do one if the 2 operations ie clip, then mark at a later date to minimise the stress for both?
 
That's really useful info. We need to clip ours especially as they are at the bottom of the garden. Scary never clipped before!!
I clipped another 3 yesterday. An alternative method which I used yesterday, is placing her in a one handed queen catcher and clipping the wing through the ‘slot’. It’s a bit fiddly and you need to wash the catcher between queens, but less stressful.

Another thing to look out for is she sometimes lifts her leg when placing the wing between the v fine scissors (don’t use ‘normal’ scissors!) , so have to try and stay calm and make sure her legs are out of the way.

Maybe practise first on a couple of drones or a queen you’re not that bothered about who might be on your list for requeening? You don’t actually have the make the final clip, but just to try the positioning
 

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