Releasing a Queen From a Queen Cage

Sometimes when you install a new queen in a nuc they don’t always release the queen on their own.  There is a layer of candy (similar to fondant) that keeps the queen trapped in her cage and the bees eat through that to release her. Strong hives can accomplish this in a day or less. For young, small nucs this can take more time and sometimes we step in to help them out.  Here is how we released a queen from her cage into the hive.

You can see her come out of the cage at 0:49.

Supersedure Cells

Supersedure is the natural way of re-queening.  The bees replace an existing queen with a new queen in the same hive.  There are many reasons that this can happen, some of the most common reasons are:

  • the queen is old
  • the queen is not laying eggs properly
  • the queen may be sick
  • the queen is physically damaged
  • the queen is not producing enough pheromones anymore

Supersedure cells will often be in the middle of a frame, not at the bottom of a frame like you would see with swarming.

In our case we believe the bees sensed the queen was getting old (she is over a year old now) and decided they needed to replace her with a younger queen.

It was truly a sad sight to see our good old queen right next to the cells of the queens that would eventually take her place.

You can see 2 large queen cells on the left half of this picture and our old queen with a yellow dot towards the middle on the right side.

You can see 2 large queen cells on the left and our old queen with a yellow dot towards the middle on the right side.

Allowing the bees to produce their own queen is usually not successful in our experience. This is due to the fact that we don’t have enough hives to produce a really good drone pool and the chances of the queen mating with an Africanized drone are possible too.  So this hive will either be re-queened with a hygienic queen that we will buy from a local supplier or we will combine it with another hive.

How to Identify Elements on a Bee Frame

I thought it would be helpful for some of the beginners out there to see a frame with some important elements pointed out. I’m also providing a link to the full resolution versions so that you can zoom in.

Frame_small

Frame with important elements marked.

Click here for full resolution file of marked up frame.

Unmarked frame for comparison.

Unmarked frame for comparison.

Click here for full resolution file of unmarked frame.

Round queen cell

In the 2 years we have been keeping bees, I have never seen a round queen cell.  Most queen cells are elongated, but this one is a round ball.  A week ago this hive was doing fine and had a queen, then while inspecting them we noticed they were a little aggressive.  My poor husband got stung 4 times and finally put on his gloves. We looked and did not see any new eggs and searched for the queen, but did not find her.  There were 3 other queen cells in the hive too.  Maybe the queen died from natural causes? Maybe she was rejected from the hive for some reason?  Who knows for sure.  The queen cells look like emergency cells, so we left them as is and will check this hive in 2 weeks.

A round queen cell.

A round queen cell.

Close up of round queen cell.

Close up of round queen cell.

What’s the Queen Doing There?

We recently moved our nucs into regular sized hives.  We opened up one hive and found the queen on top of the inner cover. What is the queen doing there?  Since it was a relatively new hive to her we assumed maybe she got a little confused, so we gently guided her back to the opening of the inner cover and back down into the hive.