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 #4107  by AdamD
 15 Jul 2019, 20:03
I collected a swarm a week or more ago and after a few days I checked briefly and there were eggs, so I was sure I had a mated queen in there. A week after the swarm was housed I checked through the colony. After 3 frames I saw an upside down queen with her head in the comb. Dead with her sting chamber open as the picture shows. My assumption is that she died in a fight but another queen would not usually fly with a mated one. So possibly a queen flew in after a mating flight - although I would expect her to be killed before entering the hive. Or maybe the queen just expanded due to decomposition after she died. In any case, we don't usually see a queen like this!

Any ideas?

 #4109  by Caroline
 15 Jul 2019, 22:27
Hi Adam,

Great photo and very interesting, thanks for sharing it with us.

I have heard of a swarm containing both a laying queen and a virgin, although I've not seen it myself. It will be interesting to see what you find on your next two inspections.

This may be one of those unsolved mysteries.
 #4110  by Chrisbarlow
 16 Jul 2019, 08:05
I had a swarm in this summer and set it up next (very close) to another large well established colony. The swarm and laying queen were on about 6 frames. I inspected the large colony and there was a lot of flying bees, I noticed there was a lot of activity at the swarm colony entrance which was on a full entrance. Once I put the full colony back together I checked the swarm to find the swarm queen being balled and stung , she never recovered . There was no big fight at the entrance, there was no dead bees. An interesting experience and frustrating experience.
 #4113  by NigelP
 16 Jul 2019, 10:03
Prime swarms with mated queens and virgins are more common than we think which might be what has happened
Also usurpation might be happening more frequently than we certainly does happen with small nucs and even apideas where you arrive and think where the hell did all those bees come from.

But been a weird season, I had a newly emerged mated and laying queen suddenly disappear and 2 queen cells get drawn on the small patch of eggs she had laid.....then they got torn down..... an added test frame didn't generate any queen cells....but still nothing laying in there...bees are calm; polished cells and 2 full supers of honey!
Sometime it can be best to not bother trying to figure out what happened as weird things do go on. Just go with the flow.

Another weird thing this year was a F1 Buckfast queen; last year and this spring the hive was as calm as you like but suddenly became quite defensive. I thought they might have swarmed as I was unable to find queen and figured we now had an F2 and hence (in my area) account for the temper change.
Found her last week, still marked original queen is still why did that large hive go from exceedingly gentle to tetchy??
 #4123  by Chrisbarlow
 17 Jul 2019, 10:54
I've had a bit of that this year with a few colonies going from calm to tetchy. However they've all reverted back to calm again at the moment.

My suspicions are:
Change in drone father of workers
Change in forage
Proximity to other colonies.
 #4124  by AdamD
 17 Jul 2019, 13:34
I wonder how well the sperm are mixed in the spermatheca and whether there is a bit of 'last in first out'

Last autumn, I had a colony that was marked as a 'flighty :( ' when the others weren't. This year they have been fine all year.

It's the case that on OSR, some colonies can become tetchy and then calm down again a few weeks later.
 #4126  by NigelP
 17 Jul 2019, 15:55
History of this colony was my garden, in spring okayish...noted not as calm as last season. Moved to OSR, extremely aggressive, moved to different apiary site, calmer initially now aggressive again. Original queen still present
Now when I say aggressive I don't mean excessively so, more like a gentler version of my local bees.
But as they are about to finish filling their 7th super of the season I can't complain too much...and then I'll take them to the heather sometime next week.

Regarding sperm mixing their are some nice pictures of coloured sperm in the spermatheca from II in Koenigers Mating Biology of the Honey bee, but for the life of me I can't remember what they said about whether it affected the composition of supersister groups.
 #4129  by Caroline
 17 Jul 2019, 18:36
Regarding colonies changing temperament....

4 colonies, all excellent, full inspections without having to use smoke. No followers.
Same 4 colonies relocated half a mile down the road in December.
In spring, first inspection, following bees (the serious type that just don't give up, until you've gone at least 1/4 mile). All 4 colonies with original queens.
Subsequently, all 4 colonies re-queened themselves. Still the guard bees follow, even through several brood cycles!

5th colony in different location always a pleasure to inspect - now stinging without provocation!


I know others who are having the same issues, with no previous history of problems. We're all looking for an answer as to why this is happening this year.
 #4142  by AdamD
 18 Jul 2019, 08:50
Back to the original post. I inspected the colony yesterday and there were a dozen or so emergency queencells. So no other queen present. Why would the queen be killed in a colony that had only just been housed and was getting established? Anyway, I usually find that I need to (prefer to) replace swarm queens, so I am now forced to do it!

(I guess that she could have expired as a result of me opening the hive or maybe around the same time - in which case it's a first for me. All I did was to take the crown board off!)