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Hypothetical Re-Queening in Difficult Circumstances


Here is what we chose to do:

Wednesday 14th Two new queens arrived from Big Island Queens in Hawaii. Both were alive, with all attendants alive but looking sluggish. They were in a 3-hole cage, so we put a drop of water and a drop of honey on the mesh of the cage. Within a couple of hours, there was a lot more activity, and amazing sounds of bees chomping the candy in the cage. :blush:

We went out to the hives and in the calm hive, we found the queen within 15 minutes. We put the frame she was on into a nucleus box, with 2 frames of food, 2 of capped brood and one with a mixture of food and capped brood. We wanted to keep her alive until we knew that the new queen had been accepted. We left the calm hive queenless overnight, and moved the nucleus off-site.

We opened the aggressive hive, and despite a one hour search of the double brood boxes, we could not find the queen. We closed the hive again, and resolved to search again the next day.

Thursday 15th. We put the queen cage into the calm hive close to some emerging worker brood, observing the colony’s behaviour towards her for a few minutes. Nurse bees were soon clustering around the mesh, and seemed to want to feed the new queen. There was no stinging, biting or balling of the cage, so we closed the hive.

We went through the aggressive hive two more times, inspecting each frame twice. No queen. Capped and uncapped brood, eggs and a couple of empty “play” queen cups were seen, but not queen cells.

The caged queen and her attendants got another drop of honey and a drop of water. Both were eagerly consumed by the attendants.

Friday 16th. Another unsuccessful search for the queen in the aggressive hive. We now decided to make life easier for ourselves by breaking the hive down into 2 nuclei of 4 frames and a single deep 8 frame brood box. No queen cells were seen on any frame. Eggs and uncapped brood present. We put the best nucleus onto our roof deck, about 70 feet away from the first hive. The other nucleus we put on top of a flat roofed hive, with the entrance rotated at 90 degrees to the parent colony entrance - a sort of Snelgrove board concept, but with no mesh between the nucleus and the hive below.

About 5 hours after creating the roof deck nucleus, a nice queenless roar was detected, so the remaining queen cage was introduced, rubber banded to an empty frame between two frames of emerging brood.

The bees seemed to welcome her nicely, so we closed up the nucleus.

To appease our apiphobic (bee-fearing) neighbours, we have agreed not to do any beekeeping on weekends or public holidays. However, now (Friday) our colonies were in a position to wait for a few days, and our shipped queens were nicely accommodated.

Monday 19th. David is busy with work until dark, and I have agreed not to go through the aggressive hive solo. Plus my face and eye were still very swollen from a sting on the previous Friday.

Tuesday 20th. Roof deck nucleus has released the queen. She was seen calmly walking around on the frames. Empty cage and frame removed and the remaining 4 frames were pushed together to help keep the brood warm.

Calm hive also released their queen, and lots of eggs were spotted. Did not see the queen, but we didn’t want to go through the hive too extensively, as it was only 5 days since she was introduced.

Aggressive nucleus was inspected next. Wow! Dozens of loaded queen cells, some capped, some uncapped, but all stuffed with royal jelly and larvae. Aggressive hive inspected too. Same findings - tons of queen cells. No eggs seen in either colony. Some 3 day old larvae and lots of uncapped brood seen.

I don’t want to string this out too long, but before I give you the final choices we made, I have some questions for people to think about. It might be good if we suggest that we let beekeepers with less than 3 years’ experience have a go at these first. :wink: There will be lots of good ways to handle the situation, the idea is just to give people practice in thinking about the problem.

  1. When is the most likely date that the queen died?
  2. When do worry about the hive developing laying workers.
  3. What do we do with the roof deck nucleus on Tuesday 20th?
  4. What do we do with the queen cells and why do what you suggest?
  5. What do we do with the aggressive nucleus and single brood hive on Tuesday, if anything?
  6. When do we inspect again (it is going to rain on Wednesday and Thursday)?

Thanks for joining this conversation. Hopefully it is useful to some people, or a least a bit of beekeeping fun. :blush:




I had a hive from a swarm rescue and I kept them in this field at the top of the red line. They would chase and try to sting me even after getting to the bottom of the red line. That’s 2/10ths of a mile :open_mouth: They were very calm during the swarm capture but once they had brood to defend it was game over.


This thread has taught me that “angry bees” & the degree of anger described, is in the eye of the beholder.


Is that a Stormy Daniels reference? :smile:

Second question, how many years have you been keeping bees, Ed @Red_Hot_Chilipepper??



I’m glad the queens from Hawaii made the journey safely! I’m also glad you’ve come to some sort of truse with your neighbors. I hope the hive calms and gentles the rest is to much thinking for now BUT I’m going to right a timeline of bees, eggs drone, queen cells etc. Back to beekeeping for dummies. Oh the important question is: How do you feel about your plan? Thanks for sharing because I live in a subdivision! Though my area is conservation minded.


Stormy Daniels…had to look her up: No, since I used a quote for my reply, I still needed 20 characters.

I started keeping bees in 2010 but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once.


Hi Dawn, I think in relation to the nasty remaining hive/s, Ed is right there too. I think it depends on the neighbour issue and whether it might be best to give them some dry ice or something :anguished: In other words, it is really a case of the complexity of the facts and situation you are having to deal with there, as opposed to what you might do on a farm or the like…


It worked pretty well. I am sure that we could improve on it, but so far, so good. Thanks for asking, @Martha! :blush:


Now, if I gave the neighbours some dry ice and a big bucket of water, they could fill their back yard with mist and wouldn’t be able to see any bees! :smile: :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: :heart_eyes:

Bit expensive though. I am not sure they are worth the $20 for the dry ice. :rofl: :smiling_imp:


So, not 3 years or less of experience then? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


After reading & re-reading, the penny finally dropped about the x’s. I originally thought Ed was blowing you kisses. I still haven’t worked out the Holiday Inn Express part.

I must have too much time on my hands.


I wonder about whether a queenless hive is usually more aggressive? I came across a video by the Bunyip Beekeeper showing a super aggressive queenless hive. At least one bee got into his suit. Has anyone else experienced this with a queenless hive?


For JeffH lol



Not always but often. The longer she has been gone the worse they are as the different patrilines of laying workers fight for supremacy. Bees that are queen less over winter are often quite apathetic


I completely agree with @Dee. However, in my particular scenario, the hive was aggressive long before it was queenless. Subjectively, it has not been any more aggressive since we made it queenless, but as @JeffH said, aggressiveness is somewhat in the eye of the beholder! :blush:


Thanks Dan, that’s a clever ad, no pun intended. Any ad that gets people quoting the catch phrase is clever, I think.

Over here there’s one that has been quoted. “Not happy Jan!!!”. Jan forgot to subscribe a company in the yellow pages.


Hahahahaha forgot where that came from until I saw that! :joy::joy::joy:
Used that many time :slight_smile:


Thank you for your explanation of the Holliday Inn Express reference.
I thought one of us was losing the plot.


OK, time to end the agony on this thread! :smile:

I will start with my answers to my 6 questions. Your opinion may differ, and we could both be right (@Red_Hot_Chilipepper and anyone else who had ideas), but here are my thoughts:

  1. The queen probably died on Friday 16th. My reason for saying this is that the biggest intervention/inspection that we did was on Friday 16th, and we were in a hurry to finish. There were no queen cells on the 16th, so it seemed unlikely that she had died on the 14th. The youngest larvae we saw on 20th were 3 days old (6 days from laying). We did not see any eggs on 20th, so she had been gone for at least 3 days. There may have been some 2 day larvae, but we didn’t spot them (they can be hard to see).

  2. Assuming we didn’t intervene, it would be unusual to have a major laying worker problem in less than 3 weeks from queenlessness. Pheromones from uncapped brood suppress the ovaries in workers, and it is only once they are all capped that the conditions begin for laying workers to develop. As worker brood is capped at day 10 after the egg was laid, you have at least 17 days from the queen dying. That would be about April 2nd at the earliest.

  3. We had requeened the nucleus just 4 days previously, so having confirmed that she was released, we closed up the nucleus right away and left them alone. There is an increased risk of the queen being rejected if you disrupt the colony too much, too soon after the introduction.

  4. We destroyed all of the emergency queen cells, using a lot of smoke to get the bees clear of the frame surfaces, so that they couldn’t hide anything. We did that because of the Africanization in our region, and because we wanted to re-introduce the queen from the roof deck nucleus.

  5. Having destroyed the queen cells in both the aggressive nucleus and the single brood hive, we closed the colonies up. We wanted to wait for more queen cells to develop, so that when we next inspected, we could remove all possibility for them to make any more. If you introduce a queen into a hive which can still make queen cells (and wants to), they tend to kill off the outside queen and raise their own instead. If you leave it so that they are desperate, chances are greater that your outside queen will be accepted. As the youngest larvae we saw on Tuesday 20th were 3 days old, that should be the last day that the colony can make a new queen.

  6. We inspected again on Friday 23rd, looking for more queen cells. We found about 5 uncapped but fully loaded emergency cells and destroyed them.

So that this post doesn’t get too long, I will continue the calendar record in another post. :blush: