I get my replacement queen (I have been living with a hot hive since last October) in about a month and I am again dreading the whole “find the queen amidst a cloud of 100K bees trying to kill you” thing. Got lots of good advice when I brought this up before but the consensus was clear - it is going to suck.
So… since bee-keepers are sooo open minded to new-fangled devices I wanted to toss an idea out here. I have one deep and one medium brood on the hive. I was thinking of removing two frames from the medium to make room for a box with a queen trap (queen excluder mesh and triangle escape for the queen). I would then bait it with a frame of open brood from my other hive. With a little luck, in 24 hours, I can just remove that one trap-in box and then search for the queen there.
Not sure I have a good idea of what you are proposing, but I do have an idea that might help.
I recently requeened a very hot hive, and if I couldn’t find the queen next time, I have a plan that I like.
I have lots of spare equipment, so I would split the whole hive into nuclei or single boxes. Dividing the hive up makes the bees a lot less aggressive and much easier to inspect.
If I could be sure that there was a nucleus which didn’t contain the queen after 24 hours, I would introduce the new queen into that. Queenless roar is sometimes very obvious, long before they start to try to make a queen.
If I couldn’t be sure that I had a queenless nuc, I would just feed the new queen cage with a drop of my own honey every day, then inspect the boxes after 3 days. Those which are queenless will have queen cells, assuming there were eggs or young brood in the nuc. Destroy all of the queen cells and introduce the queen to one of those.
The box which has no queen cells will have the queen. That box can be inspected very carefully with a lot less hassle than a full strength hive and the old queen can be dispatched.
A week after introducing the queen to the nuc, all boxes can be merged together with newspaper, after carefully destroying any further queen cells.
Sounds like a lot of work, but actually it wasn’t really and it was so much nicer inspecting small colonies. Somehow they don’t get to that super-aggressive level of alarm pheromone that a full hive produces, and the will to attack was very much reduced. Highly recommended for those semi-africanized, badly behaved colonies!
Here is the link to the thread where I discussed it. Lots of other helpful ideas on there that you may want to consider too:
I had read that before - a good read and similar to the advice I got from others on this forum.
I put together a picture of what I am proposing below. Top-down view of the brood box. Cyan is a panel of #5 mesh connected to a wood box (dark brown). In this mesh, I also add a triangle queen trap (purple). After putting in the bait brood, I put a lid over it (not shown) so the queen cannot escape once she enters.
You know, after seeing my drawing I’m thinking I may as well just put the box on the outside on the front entrance. One less time I have to go into the hot hive and easier to check for the queen. My understanding is as long as I bait it with open brood from a different hive, the queen will come. The trick is keeping her there.
I am sorry, I am still not sure that I get it. Is the queen meant to go through the #5 mesh? Because she may well not fit (although Africanized queens are smaller). Neither will the drones. If there is a bee escape for the queen to go through within the mesh, then I think I have the concept. But then my secondary question is what will stop the queen from going down to the entrance, and crossing the landing board back into the hive? Or will you block the entrance all of the way up to your contraption? In that case, you can only really leave it 24 hours between checks, because the drones will kill themselves trying to get out, and the nurse bees may explode if they need to poop!
The cyan is the mesh across the bottom to allow all but the queen access in and out. The purple is the queen escape that will allow the queen entry but make it difficult for her to find her way back out. All bees have free access to the outside through the causeway underneath the cyan and purple (mesh and queen escape).
I guess I’ll give it a go. I have some time to prepare and worse-case it doesn’t work and I have to resort to the “divide and conquer” approach. Either case, I will have still learned something.
Any suggestions on the type of escape? Triangle? Conical? Porter? Other? I wonder if the triangle or conical will really outwit a clever AHB queen but will she even make it in through a Porter?
As this isn’t a standard technique, you may not get many opinions. The porter bee escapes which I have are around 1/4" deep - might be a squeeze for a queen. I would probably go for a triangle or a cone, but again, it would depend on the dimensions of the escape.
It’s not likely that people in Australia understand what it means to deal with a hot Africanized hive.
We had to handle a hive once that was so defensive, we needed layers of clothing under 2 bee suits, only because we had to give them back a brood frame just on dark.
I read stories of Africanized bees attacking without reason from hundreds of meters away, and not just a couple of guard bees, but a cloud of bees.
Hope I never have to experience those.
I’ll try to get something together this weekend. I have time for a couple attempts so maybe I’ll start with Porter escapes first and evolve as necessary. Below is what I have in mind. I am not showing the outer wood panel that slides into the outer groove to block light to the acrylic inspection panel. Mesh across the bottom with a couple Porter escapes (for first try anyway).
OK. Got my box made, go pick up my queens next week so it’s time to try it. One catch. My mellow hive has a bad case of Varroa so I am less than reticent to take a frame of infested brood and attaching it to my one hive that is working well. So I may end up having to find that queen the traditional way (Although I personally plan to neither walk nor run from the bees and, instead, move away in a slow trot using my Monte-Python Silly Walk). Before I do, I was wondering if the new queen could be used as a lure. Take some brood from the same hot hive, put it in the trap along with the new queen (in her cage). The only thing I’ve heard tell of luring a queen out so far was open brood from another hive so I am less optimistic abut this idea.