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Foolishly released queen, workers tried to attack - too late to save?

24 hours ago I split my hive into a nuc, checking first that the queen was not on the frames I moved over. This morning I approached the split with new caged queen and sat her on-top. Bees came to her slowly and calmly, they were easy to brush away and seemed to be trying to lick (not bite) her.

To be extra sure the nuc was the queenless part, I took the caged queen to the entrance of the parent hive. Bees came over but more aggressively and didn’t like being pushed away.

Now confident, I returned to the nuc - removed the queen from her cage and marked her, then set her down on top of one of the nuc frames after the paint was dry. Two bees immediately rushed her and started biting at her, locked on in a death battle.

I grabbed them away and managed to remove one bee very quickly but the 2nd had a really good hold. I had to squash it and still was locked on - was very hard to remove.

I returned the queen to her cage, which still has two attendants thankfully, and took inside. She seems to be ok at the moment, still walking around in the cage etc.

My questions are…

  1. what would you estimate the viability of this queen still is?
  2. would you purchase a new queen and assume this one is ruined
  3. why would the hive be so calm and welcoming to her whilst caged but aggressively rush her upon (direct) release?
  4. do you think that, despite my searching, the ‘old’ queen had somehow ended up in the nuc? I am rubbish at finding her to be honest

I don’t want them to create their own queen as the nuc was to be a gift for a friend who is starting and I want to build it up big and strong quickly for him.

Temporarily I have recombined the nuc and parent hive, shaken all the bees off the nuc frame into the parent and moved the frames I had in it into a new brood box inserted between existing honey super/brood box. There are QX’s between all boxes now. I had read this approach will force nurse bees up to the middle box to care for the open brood and ensure that the queen is definitely trapped in the bottom box. I will try the split again once I know the queen is ok/have a new queen.

sounds like she is probably fine- perfectly viable. Assuming you can’t see any obvious damage.

If a bee stings another bee- it will usually curl up and die within 5 minutes.

It’s a shame you recombined everything. As you will need a hive to put that queen into pretty soon. For future reference there are several things you could have done when introducing that queen. Either use a cage with a candy plug so the bees have time to get used to the new queen before she is released. OR- you can get a water spray bottle and put a teaspoon of vanilla essence in it and fill with water. When you release the queen lightly spray all the bees and the tops of the frames with this sweet water. This will mask the queens different smell and the bees will be in a nice mood licking it up and enjoying themselves.

by tomorrow you should be able to look in the bottom box- if you see tiny eggs standing upright in cells- then the queen was down there all along.

as to question 3 who knows? Bees will be bees. Sometimes the bees ball their own queen and kill her for seemingly no reason. I had this happen once but I was able to grab and save the queen. An hour later I put her back, sprayed them with the sweet water, and they accepted her.

Hi Semaphore, thanks for replying and giving me some hope.

I was thinking of re-splitting them this afternoon by pulling out the the middle box I inserted this morning. The bees should have reorganized across the two brood boxes and covered the brood frames by then (or so I read, hopefully accurate).

Then 24 hours later re-introduce the queen to the split nuc - in the cage this time.

I like the sweet water idea, if we have some vanilla extract lying around I will do that at the same time. I’ve given the caged bees a droplet of honey and a droplet of water to keep them going :slight_smile:

What do you think?

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sounds like a plan. If you use the candy plug method open the hive after about 48 hours and check to see if they have released her or not. If not and she is still in the cage perhaps release her then. You can use a marshmallow as the plug. Also it doesn’t have to be genuine vanilla extract- imitation is fine. Also you could probably use a few teaspoons of plain white sugar. Or you can put icing sugar in a sieve and lightly dust the bees. This also works well to stop bees fighting in a robbing/fighting/combining scenario.

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