Thursday, January 3, 2013

Lost new queen while replacing old one.

Lost $30 dollars and my (Keith and Jane) new Carniolan queen :-( and this is our story. We had a hive that is doing well (double brood boxes) and wanted to split the hive and giving the old queen a new nuc box. So on the 9 Dec (late spring in NZ) I got my new queen in a queen carrier. It was a warm night so I put her in the hive about 7pm.

First I took out 2 brood frames and the old Italian queen and forming the new nuc. I put in a frame feeder into the nuc to keep them going for a while and blocked up the entrance for a couple of days so they won't fly back to the old hive. They are now a good hive.

Day 3 from the split I checked the frame with the queen carrier and found the queen still there! I had forgotten to check that the plastic travel tab had been removed, which means the new queen couldn't get out. Breaking the tab lets the bees have access to the sugar candy. On Sat (day 6) we found the queen alive and well, she was on the first few frames so we put the hive back together in order not to disturb her too much while she was settling in.

Yesterday was 2 Jan (day 23 and height of honey flow) we inspected the hive. No brood in the bottom box, although some patches of dry cells. This means the hive thinks that there is a queen. No queen in the bottom brood box. So went through the top brood box. In the top box there was honey and pollen in every frame and still no queen. That is, until that last frame and there she was. Our new Carniolan queen had a red dot painted on, but this queen look very Italian and without any dot. I did find two open queen cells in the bottom box which I did not pay too much attention to as these could have been from earlier in the season. But apparently our new queen had come from one of these.

My best guess is that when we removed the old queen the hive must have made new queen cells. The hatched queen found the new queen and killed her. I don't know why the Carniolan queen didn't destroy the unhatched queen cell, maybe she had already hatched when the Carniolan was released on day 4 or 5 of the split. The hive must have had two queens, neither laying, until the showdown.

Now waiting to see if my new queen will do any laying. The hive will now die down due to the break in brood. At least we broke the verroa cycle, not that we can find any in any hive right now :-)

Please leave any comments or insights you may have.

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