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A New Queen and then a Different Queen

Good evening all from Melbourne, Australia…

So our saga continues. You may remember a few weeks ago we had what appeared to be a very healthy new hive that was about 5 weeks post transfer from the nuc with lots of honey. One of the lovely forum members noticed what appeared to be a queen cell and there was some discussion about whether they might swarm.

After an inspection with the help of an experienced beekeeper, it became obvious that our original queen was no longer present and probably died soon after transfer from the nuc and we had lots of honey but no brood and no eggs etc. It now appears that the queen cell was the hive preparing a new queen… however, we were advised that given how late it is in the year, that a new queen might not mate and we should purchase a mated queen as our hive had already been 3 weeks with no queen and the colony was getting old with no babies to carry forward. We arranged for a new queen (marked blue) and put her in the hive two weeks ago with a frame of brood. The bees seemed to take to her quite quickly - they seemed to want to feed her rather than sting her so we were hopeful she would be accepted.(one of the forum members kindly sent us two videos so we could see the difference between welcoming bees and unwelcoming bees).

Last weekend, we decided to do an inspection. We found two new frames full of brood and larvae so we clearly have a queen however, the one we found wasn’t marked and she doesn’t look like the one we purchased…

So my question is - do you think the hive actually produced a queen who took her maiden flight - coincidentally while we were introducing the purchased queen? and then returned to lay etc. I feel that the bees would have been more aggressive to the introduced queen if they already had one, and two days before we introduced her, there was absolutely no sign of a laying queen (brood, larvae etc).

Would I be correct in thinking that they probably killed the introduced queen in favour of their hive produced queen?

Sounds like a possibility - I wonder if the bees were hedging their bets on their home grown queen at first, just in case she never returned from her mating flight. I’d also imagine that the newcomer’s pheromone might have been stronger/switched on since she was mated :dancer:t2:…until the lady of the house came back :flushed:

I gave good advice, based on personal experiences. I also gave subjects to read up on so that you’ll understand the advice I was giving. You chose to take a different direction. As it turned out, you could have followed my advice & save some money & anxiety. Anyway it’s all part of the learning experience for both of us.

Hi Jeff,

I did and do appreciate your advice and read your suggested material but it seems in beekeeping as in other forms of agriculture, there is no absolutes or single solution. I had a beekeeper here with 30 years experience in my region, check the hive, look for evidence of the queen (or queen cell) and we could find nothing which is why he suggested a new introduced queen.

His advice was to ‘insure ourselves’ by introducing a queen so that if there wasn’t a naturally produced one, at least we still had a queen.

Please don’t feel I didn’t welcome your advice. I was very grateful to you and hope you will still share your obviously extensive knowledge in due course, and of course, I’d love to visit you when time (and Covid) allows.

Thanks for your understanding and best wishes,

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Hi Tamara & you’re most welcome. The reason why I suggested to study bee culture, the life cycle of bees, drones & queens in our private chat was so you got a better understanding of where I was coming from. It’s hitting home to me the importance of knowing time frames of brood cycles etc. For example, it’s no good looking for evidence of a queen when the colony has emergency queens underway. By knowing time frames, you can study what brood is present, then estimate roughly when the last eggs were laid. By knowing the time frames of queens, you would know that there’s no point in looking for evidence of a queen when she is about to emerge, or has just emerged. Bare in mind that young recently emerged queens are hard to spot, so therefore easy to miss. I advised against looking for her anyway.

I understand the difficulty you faced when you was getting conflicting advice on this forum, coupled with more conflicting advice from local experienced beekeepers. Who do you take notice of? It must be hard. The main thing is to learn from each experience.


PS. I just want to touch on what you said about no absolutes in beekeeping. There certainly are absolutes, however you are correct in no single solution. I’ll always do my best to help out with the simplest solution. Especially if someone reaches out in a private message.

I wanted to edit my previous post, however the option is no longer available. I want to say that I do my best to help out with the simplest solution, based on the information & whatever photos are provided.

I also want to add that the wrong diagnosis can lead to the wrong solution, as in this case.