Saturday, April 13, 2013

Well, that wasn't planned!

Last week (April 26) I took delivery of 3 Queen bees from the Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association. I thought it was way too early to get queens (well certainly too early to make splits) as its been so cold here this winter. But there's not much that can be done if everything is firing in Louisiana and there are queens there ready to shipped out!
The 3 Queens.
Anyway, I took the queens and installed them the same day. One went into a weak hive, together with some eggs and brood from an adjacent stronger hive (I had already disposed of the resident queen the previous day). The other two Queens I put in a mating box along with frames of brood/eggs I took from the strong hive in my back yard and from a hive I have at the botanical gardens. No worries!

The strong hive in my Back Yard
I checked on the mating box on Wednesday; the candy plugs in the queen cages had been eaten away. I therefore assumed the queens had been released. So all good, right?

Wrong! I checked the hives this morning. One side of the mating box is raising Queen Cells! (can you spot one?) So that means the Queen in that side is dead! I found the other Queen dead inside her cage!

Spot the Queen Cell!

The dead Queen!
So that was a waste of time! Still, at least the Queen in the weak hive is alive! I found her still in her cage!  She hadn't been able to find her way out. She doesn't sound too clever to me!  All in all it wasn't a very encouraging start! But you have to look on the bright side...

1. I'm now raising my own queens which is actually what I wanted to do in the first place!

2. The hive in my back yard is nice and strong and it was no problem taking brood and eggs from it.

3. The single surviving queen walked out of the cage and onto a frame in the weak hive without being assaulted by the other bees!

I have hope!


  1. Yikes!

    I bought two queens from the club also, and the bees ate through the candy plug in 2 days.

    The queens did not come out of their cages (even though the plugs were eaten through) for another 24 hours. I thought that was really strange.

    I wonder if in your case, the bees (the attendants in the queen cage) ate the plug before the hive bees were ready for the new queen? In the past couple of years I've bought queens from the club, the queen cages didn't have attendants, so I'm not sure of this theory.


  2. Who knows! It looked like the hole eaten away for the last queen wasn't big enough for her to get out of. But you may be right. I may have had more luck keeping the cork plug in place for a couple of days first. You live and learn.

    Anyway, as I said I wanted to raise my own queens - I just wasn't expecting to do it like this!