Queen Piping and other questions.

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Kate's Bees 

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I'm sorry this is a bit long-winded but I am trying to understand my bees to try and prevent (more) newbie mistakes.

I got my first hive (full colony from someone downsizing, not a nuc) in May of this year and they rapidly settled down and expanded into 2 BBs. They were initially lovely, placid bees and perfect for a beginner, forgiving me many minor hiccups. Then quite suddenly the bees in the bottom BB became really quite grumpy and I couldn't go through them without being boiled up on. At first I thought it was just them getting cold as I had gone through the top first but even if I put the top straight to one side the bottom bees still wouldn't let me near them. Sought counsel from more experienced beeks and peiople said it sounded almost like I had 2 colonies in one hive (it certainly felt like it!). Mum (my bee mentor in addition to many other maternal roles over the years) came down and we went through them closely and could find nothing but my original marked queen and the bees then all went back to their normal docile selves. This lasted about 3 weeks over the end of May, beginning of June. Over the period of this time I had also heard a lot of queen piping but had thought nothing of it as all my book says about queen piping is "Queen bees often make a 'piping' noise - variously described as sounding like a quacking or tooting noise of a toy trumpet. It can be clearly heard outside the hive and has been said to be either a G# or A in pitch."
I have heard it occasionally both before and since the episode described but rarely and started hearing it again at the end of the week and weekend. Thought I would ask around about it and look on line to find out why they do it as not (quite) stupid enough to think they are talking back to me.

Then everything I find talks about virgin queens and queens cells and mated queens doing it to find each other and fight it out etc which alarms me somewhat as I have been merrily thinking it was just one of those quirks!

I have been through the hive on Monday with an experienced beek and wee can't find any queens other than my marked one and nothing other than a couple of play cells. The bees behaviour has also been normal but it does make me believe that I must have had 2 queens in the hive for a while.

Haven't heard anymore piping in the last couple of days but have loads of questions!

How common is piping, do all queens do it?
Do queens ever just pipe without another queen in the hive?
How common is it for queens to coexist?
If a second queen hatches wouldn't it be more common for the existing queen to swarm?

Needless to say, any more piping and I will investigate cloeser for a second queen!

Thank you for anyone who makes it to the end of this rambling post!
 

enrico 

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My hearing is too poor so I can't comment on the piping.
It is possible for two queen s to co exist but this doesn't sound like one of those times. Often the bees are just fed up by the time you get to the bottom brood. Try taking the top brood off and looking through the bottom brood first. Look through the top brood while it is still in it's new position. I think if they are that strong I would consider splitting them anyway. That should sort the problem once and for all!!!
E
 

Kate's Bees 

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I tried looking through the bottom brood first but they were still very feisty. The situation has currently seemed to have resolved itself so will just keep a close eye and ear on them.
 

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