Bees New Queens
Fell: This is actually a nice, quiet hive. The bees are sitting very quietly on the combs. This is what we like to see. It’s a nice, gentle colony.
But sometimes, the sounds of a beehive tell us that something’s gone wrong. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Fell: If the bees lose their queen, we often get what we call scenting behavior, and that scenting behavior sort of creates a roar.
Rick Fell is a Professor Emeritus in Entomology at Virginia Tech.
Fell: It’s just a lot of bees that are exposing a scent gland and fanning with their wings. So, if we open it up and we have a lot of bees that are exhibiting this scenting behavior, it often indicates hmm that we may have a problem.
If a colony is missing its queen, we’ve got several options. One option is to provide another queen. In our yard here, you’d see some very small colonies what we call nucleus colonies and we use these as sort of a source of queens. We raise queens, and we allow them to develop and mate, and then we have a extra queen that we can use to re-queen a colony. Another option, if we don’t have a queen available, is to provide some young brood. What we do is we provide a frame that has young, developing larvae, about a day of age and the bees missing a queen will take those young larvae and rear several queens.
When we’re rearing queens, what we do is we control the process to the extent that we provide certain larvae for the bees to use for rearing queens, and once they’re developed, then we can put those developed cells and these would be queen cells. They have a larger cell in which queens are reared. We’d put those into what we’d call a mating colony, and then as the young queen emerges, between the days of about 5 and 8, she typically makes mating flights. Once she’s mated then, and laying eggs, we can use her to re-queen another colony.
Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.