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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 17th year of beekeeping in April 2022. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a
Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Monday, May 27, 2013

A Queenly Adventure

At Ron's house we are having hive problems.  If you'll remember he got the queenless side of the Lenox Pointe split and all of Colony Square (which at the time looked queenless).....Since that time, the Lenox Pointe hive simply dwindled away.  The Colony Square hive appears to have gone through two queens.  Neither were any good.

The most recent decision I've made about that hive was to take a queen from Mississippi that I got from my friend Steve Esau and put her in her cage into the Colony Square hive.  There was no brood and hadn't been except for about three or four capped drone cells.  With no eggs and no capped brood, I assumed the queen had died.

I put the queen cage into the hive on Monday last week.  On Friday I went over and found that the hive had not released the queen.  This would imply that the hive with no brood and eggs, has a queen.

I looked through every frame and found the queen.  She was small, with a small abdomen.  I wanted to kill her but just couldn't so I tried to pick her up on my hive tool.  Instead I flipped her out of the hive.  I looked on the ground and couldn't find her, although I found several bees who were flipped out with her.

I didn't have a queen excluder with me.  Jeff suggested that I put it under the hive so she couldn't get back in and that might have worked, but I didn't have one.

What to do?  I decided to break open a honey cell in one of the honey combs and get honey on my finger.  I held it to the openings in the queen cage and let the caged queen lick it off of my finger so she wouldn't starve.  When she quit licking I put her back into the hive in her cage in case the queen I flipped was injured and the bees would want a new queen.  I went to the mountains for the weekend.

Today I went back over there and the queen had still not been released.  I took a queen clip (borrowed) with me and on my second try was able to capture the queen (along with a drone and about three bees).  I dropped the whole contraption into a pillow case, made sure the Mississippi queen in her cage was placed well and went home.

I didn't know what to do with the queen.  She obviously is a dud and I should kill her.  But remember my experience back in 2009?  I swore I wouldn't kill a queen again.

So I brought her home and made a nuc.  I took a frame of brood and eggs from my MS nuc, I took some honey out of Drone Layer, and a frame of capped brood from there as well.  I added a frame of nectar and an empty frame.  I closed the front of the nuc up with screened wire and left them.

I still had the queen in the clip in the pillow case.  I decided that I would slip her in the clip between the frames overnight for the bees to get used to her.  Well, I opened up the pillow case.  All of the bees except the drone and the queen had escaped the clip.

Remember how she is a small queen?  As I picked up the clip, the queen slipped between the slats of the clip and flew away.  Exasperated and relieved, I released the drone.  As I leaned down to pick up the pillow case, the queen landed on my hand.  She had returned to me, since she didn't have a home to go to and the pillow case was her last resting place.

Really?  She wanted to come back to me.....OK, so now I have her in my possession again.  I clipped her back in the clip and put her in the pillow case.  She'll probably get out and be running around the pillow case.

I decided that at dusk, I'll put her in the nuc to be with the bees there.  If they don't want her, they can kill her.  I've given them a frame of brand new eggs to use to make a queen of their own.  I've closed off the tiny nuc so that they won't return to their own old hives and tomorrow I'll open the entrance back up again.

Also tomorrow I'll take a frame of brood and eggs to Ron's hive, just for support for the new queen.


  1. Oh Linda, after reading your 2009 saga I understand completely why you are so loathe to kill queens. I cannot agree more; last year I was urged by my Master Beekeeper to kill a whack of queen cells, gruesome work, and ended up with a queenless hive. It is far wiser to do small splits and keep queens around for emergencies, or let them expire gently in a retirement home! We are not commercial beekeepers and that gives us more latitude. That said, if you must do away with a queen, they are valuable elements of "queen juice". That way they may live again in attracting a nice swarm, who would probably perish unless they find their way to a nice beekeeper's bait hive...

  2. I decided to leave her captured until this morning so the nuc would have time to gel and recognize that they needed a queen. I had hived the nuc with a screened entry so bees couldn't come and go. This morning when I went downstairs to get the queen, she was dead in the pillowcase. I know she could breathe - maybe it was too cold in the basement. At least I didn't have to go "off with her head" and I now have an unintentional new nuc hive!

  3. Hi Linda, Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience with us. Glad to read it. Keep sharing.


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