Virgin queen introduction

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alancooper 

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Hi all,
I have a virgin queen in an incubator cage (harvested yesterday 10th June, hatched today 11th June) and I want to introduce it to a queenless colony. The virgin was hatched from a sealed queen cell from this colony which also had a second sealed Q cell that I destroyed before continuing with colony inspection and finding no eggs or larvae. In checks on all frames yesterday I did not find the marked Q.
On 29th May the colony had BIAS and 10 frames of sealed brood In a good pattern but about half the brood already hatched. The Q was young - mated last year. I have not yet put in a test frame of eggs, but I think I have been fortunate to have lost a swarm.
My plan is to put the virgin Q on top of the hive frames in her closed Q cage, check that the workers do not act aggressively, then open the cage so that she can enter the hive. Is this the accepted way to do it?
Alan
 

Erichalfbee 

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Agree run her in.
 

B+. 

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I had 12 virgins emerge in my incubator on Wednesday. I introduced them to nucs containing sealed brood (no open brood) by allowing the queen to walk down between the top bars. When I checked them yesterday, I had lost 3 of the 12 (25% loss) - so, it isn't always completely reliable.
I think it was Br Adam who wrote about the queens behaviour being more important than her status (mated/virgin) and, I think, thats right.
We look for methods that are 100% reliable but, sometimes, it's just down to the bees behaviour at the time.
 

elainemary 

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I had 12 virgins emerge in my incubator on Wednesday. I introduced them to nucs containing sealed brood (no open brood) by allowing the queen to walk down between the top bars. When I checked them yesterday, I had lost 3 of the 12 (25% loss) - so, it isn't always completely reliable.
I think it was Br Adam who wrote about the queens behaviour being more important than her status (mated/virgin) and, I think, thats right.
We look for methods that are 100% reliable but, sometimes, it's just down to the bees behaviour at the time.
Thanks that's interesting. I had considered running mine in, but decided to put in a cage, watch behaviour first & then just slow the release down, by plugging the cage with fondant. Ref your 3 virgins that were unfortunately lost, did you find the dead bodies? Just wondering how you established failure and any recommendations how to check acceptance, given general advice not to disturb once introduced, for 2-3 weeks? Keen to learn from your experience.
 

hemo 

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If in doubt honey dunk her and plop her on the tops bars or even on a bit of card on the top bars to be cleaned and watch the reaction.
 

B+. 

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Thanks that's interesting. I had considered running mine in, but decided to put in a cage, watch behaviour first & then just slow the release down, by plugging the cage with fondant. Ref your 3 virgins that were unfortunately lost, did you find the dead bodies? Just wondering how you established failure and any recommendations how to check acceptance, given general advice not to disturb once introduced, for 2-3 weeks? Keen to learn from your experience.
I didn't find their bodies - workers throw anything they don't want out of the hive. However, since I mark all my virgin queens with numbered plastic disks, they're fairly easy to find. One, or two, still lose their disks but I can usually see where the glue was on their thorax. Those that lose their disks are destined to become support colonies as the presence of the disk is the only indisputable proof I have that they are the queens I expect to be there.
I have to say, I ignore the "general advice not to disturb". I check (carefully) acceptance a day, or two later. If she's still there, I know she's been accepted. If she isn't, I look for an unmarked queen before introducing another virgin (I usually have a constant stream of cells in the incubator at this time of year - although, only 22 at the moment). Acceptance doesn't mean they'll mate successfully though. I checked a group of 9 that I introduced on 29th May tonight - 6 had eggs and/or larvae. I gave them extra comb and will leave them alone for a week, or two, now. I only count them as "good" if they have a nice sealed worker brood pattern about the size of my outstretched hand when I go back. Occasionally, I might let them go another week if the brood isn't sealed yet but, if I'm still not happy with them, they get squished.
I have invited members of Bedfordshire/Buckinghamshire BKA to come on Sunday afternoon for a grafting session (they can graft up to 30 larvae each from my breeding queens) - so they rear queens in their own colonies from my breeding material. It's the first time I've done this so I'm not quite sure how it will go. If it works, I may do it again next year. Anyway, they'll see what I do "warts and all" - no apiary clean-up. I haven't even cut the grass! lol There is piles of equipment everywhere! Anyway, I had a swarm arrive about 2 weeks ago. I thought it wouldn't be a problem but it has become increasingly "bossy". I had always planned to requeen it but took its queen away tonight (I can still use her as a brood-donor but she's been moved to a quiet spot in the apiary) - I was really just stopping a problem from developing into a bigger problem. Her brood/workers will become a cell raiser in 9 days time when I can be sure all of her brood is sealed (shake all bees off each comb in turn so I can destroy emergency cells - they already have a frame of pollen/nectar so they're perfect for the job). These are the only bees in my apiary that I have to light a smoker for. I wouldn't bother otherwise.
 

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Is there a 100% solution in beekeeping? I don’t think so.
I agree. Most of what we do works most of the time. Nothing works all of the time.
Tricks like dunking in water or honey do slow the virgins movements down but nothing is ever perfect. I've had virgins covered in honey wait until they were licked clean, then walk out the entrance - I mean, why would they do that? It's as though they had a death wish!
I've had some things work with mated queens but not with virgins, and vice-versa
 

elainemary 

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I didn't find their bodies - workers throw anything they don't want out of the hive. However, since I mark all my virgin queens with numbered plastic disks, they're fairly easy to find. One, or two, still lose their disks but I can usually see where the glue was on their thorax. Those that lose their disks are destined to become support colonies as the presence of the disk is the only indisputable proof I have that they are the queens I expect to be there.
I have to say, I ignore the "general advice not to disturb". I check (carefully) acceptance a day, or two later. If she's still there, I know she's been accepted. If she isn't, I look for an unmarked queen before introducing another virgin (I usually have a constant stream of cells in the incubator at this time of year - although, only 22 at the moment). Acceptance doesn't mean they'll mate successfully though. I checked a group of 9 that I introduced on 29th May tonight - 6 had eggs and/or larvae. I gave them extra comb and will leave them alone for a week, or two, now. I only count them as "good" if they have a nice sealed worker brood pattern about the size of my outstretched hand when I go back. Occasionally, I might let them go another week if the brood isn't sealed yet but, if I'm still not happy with them, they get squished.
I have invited members of Bedfordshire/Buckinghamshire BKA to come on Sunday afternoon for a grafting session (they can graft up to 30 larvae each from my breeding queens) - so they rear queens in their own colonies from my breeding material. It's the first time I've done this so I'm not quite sure how it will go. If it works, I may do it again next year. Anyway, they'll see what I do "warts and all" - no apiary clean-up. I haven't even cut the grass! lol There is piles of equipment everywhere! Anyway, I had a swarm arrive about 2 weeks ago. I thought it wouldn't be a problem but it has become increasingly "bossy". I had always planned to requeen it but took its queen away tonight (I can still use her as a brood-donor but she's been moved to a quiet spot in the apiary) - I was really just stopping a problem from developing into a bigger problem. Her brood/workers will become a cell raiser in 9 days time when I can be sure all of her brood is sealed (shake all bees off each comb in turn so I can destroy emergency cells - they already have a frame of pollen/nectar so they're perfect for the job). These are the only bees in my apiary that I have to light a smoker for. I wouldn't bother otherwise.
What a great idea re grafting session & generously sharing your breeding material. I attended a similar session with Yorkshire BKA and that has prompted me to have a go this year. Did it in 2 rounds, 6 have emerged and 6 next week. Really enjoying the process and will feel more confident handling virgins next time. If I achieve 8 mated queens I’d be v happy and will use to requeen about 6 colonies and over winter any surplus as contingency.
Thanks for replying, good to learn from the pros! 😊
 

alancooper 

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I had 12 virgins emerge in my incubator on Wednesday. I introduced them to nucs containing sealed brood (no open brood) by allowing the queen to walk down between the top bars. When I checked them yesterday, I had lost 3 of the 12 (25% loss) - so, it isn't always completely reliable.
I think it was Br Adam who wrote about the queens behaviour being more important than her status (mated/virgin) and, I think, thats right.
We look for methods that are 100% reliable but, sometimes, it's just down to the bees behaviour at the time.
 

alancooper 

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What I did: I placed the Q in her open “curler” cage. Some workers inspected calmly and after a few minutes she came out. However, other workers became agitated. The Q became submissive and excitement increased around her. She did go between two frames into the colony but it seemed to me that the workers were becoming aggressive. Fingers crossed for a favourable percentage.
 

B+. 

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What I did: I placed the Q in her open “curler” cage. Some workers inspected calmly and after a few minutes she came out. However, other workers became agitated. The Q became submissive and excitement increased around her. She did go between two frames into the colony but it seemed to me that the workers were becoming aggressive. Fingers crossed for a favourable percentage.
It's always the older foragers who may have a close bond with the old queen that causes the problems. If you can move the hive, or change the direction it faces, this can help
 

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