Queen intro troubles
I had a large queenless colony that I tried to split and introduced two new queens in an attempt to make two new colonies. The larger of the two seem to accept the queen and after three days I removed the cork and placed a marshmallow so she could escape into the colony. A Day or two later I checked and saw her walking around normally in the hive. Now three days after her release There are no eggs and I cannot find her.
i’m tempted to say that she was killed or left the hive.
The weaker hive has not accepted the other queen after about 7 days and I have not released her yet. My current plan is to abandon the weeker hive and place the unreleased queen into the stronger hive assuming that the released queen is either dysfunctional or was rejected.
Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated.
1- Do you know why the large colony became queenless and for how long?
They may have been in the process of replacing the queen and getting a virgin or new queen.
Maybe you can share a little bit more on the status of the original hive.
2- Did they have any queen cells that looked like they were used?
3- Also, regarding the second queen you mention, if she's still alive in the box, they may have accepted her. When a colony rejects a queen they usually stop feeding her and she dies inside the cage. If the queen is still alive and in the cage, she should be out soon or they will think there's something wrong with her and then reject her for good.
Thanks for the reply
Response to #1&2:before the split and requeen I initially tried to let the colony requeen naturally and there were 3 queen cells. But after waiting an appropriate amount of time I checked and the queen cells had hatched but despite thorough hive investigation two days in a row I found no queen and no eggs. I gave time for hatching out and for mating.
Response to # 3: regarding the queen I haven’t released yet she has about 5 attendants in the queen cage with her and fondant. Which I assumed were helping keep her fed.
the bees in the colony seem agitated on the screened covering
of the queen cage - it seems like they are not accepting to her but I admit that this is subjective and I’m not sure. This weaker hive has also experienced some robbing in the past week which may be agitating them as well.
A new queen takes 4 to 5 weeks (from egg to laying her own eggs). If any queen emerged from those cells, you may have a virgin queen there. They're harder to see since they're small, about the size of a worker bee, until they start laying eggs and their abdomen expands.
If there's a queen there, the colony will reject any new queen being introduced. Even if the workers do not kill the new queen, the virgin queen may kill her whenever she finds her.
In our yard, whenever we want to test the queenless status of a hive, we bring a frame with eggs from another hive and check within a week to see if they made emergency queen cells. If they didn't, that means that they believe they are queenright (even if they have a failed virgin queen or a drone layer).
If they do get emergency cells started, we can confirm they're queenless and we can introduce the new queen.
We always have more hives around, so we can always do this kind of test.
If you cannot test, you may need to visually check for a virgin queen, frame by frame. You need to make sure she's no longer there before bringing a new queen in.
Regarding queen introduction cages, we usually remove any attendant bees when introducing a new queen. Those 5 attendants with a queen believe they are their own colony and even though they keep the queen alive, they sometimes don't mix with the existing colony (those five attendants fight off the bees outside the cage and everyone gets cranky in that hive). Queen acceptance increases when the queen is by herself in the cage.
if you had already two weeks since the day the virgin queens emerged, I'd recommend doing a very detailed inspection (frame by frame). Looking for either eggs or a tiny virgin queen.
If you see eggs, you should have a queen already there. If there are no eggs, try to look for a small queen and she will need to be removed for the new queen to be introduced.
Thanks for the detailed reply. Once again it seems I intervened thinking the bees needed me when I think they just needed me to leave them alone! ?
Update-I found the initial queen today and some eggs! Not sure how I missed her yesterday but I’m glad she’s there and laying.
i released the other queen and as you suspected she was accepted by the colony.
Glad to hear that things are coming along!
Yes, when making queens we tend to leave the colonies be for about 5 weeks (just feeding if necessary, depending the time of the season).
Even small scale producers sometimes get concerned about queens failing. We have some beekeepers that bring mating nucs to BeeManiacs so their virgin queens can mate with a more diverse drone population. Last year, one of them thought that half of his queens had failed. He came a week later to pick up the "failed" nucs and found eggs in all of them but one.
In 2019 we found that most queens in our area took an average of an extra week to start laying eggs.
Based on experience we try to give them more time and if something goes really wrong, we consolidate nucs or hives. so the bees in the failed nuc or hive are not lost and are reintegrated with another colony.