Questions with Mike Palmer

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Mike Palmer Answers Your Questions

Mike Palmer keeps bees at French Hill Apiaries in St. Albans. We are grateful that he has agreed to answer questions on beekeeping in Vermont, his workload permitting.

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To Requeen

Roger Brisson writes:

I am new to bee keeping and bought two hives and nucs this spring. The nucs were raised here in vermont from another local commercial operation. The hives are next too one and other. One hive is doing unbelievable, The two bottom supers are full, I have a shallow super for honey on top and that is full just put another on top of that to give them more room. My other hive has not done much since I got it. I checked and the queen is still there, She does not seem to be very productive, looks like they maybe getting another queen ready to take her place. Is there anything I can do to help this hive along so it will be ready for winter?

When you say, " looks like they maybe getting another queen ready to take her place," did you actually see queen cells? If so, they are likely superceding. In three weeks or a little more, the new queen should be laying.

If they aren't in supercedure mode, I would suggest requeening the weaker colony. At the same time you might consider adding a frame of emerging bees, taken from the stronger colony. For requeening, I would also suggest a push-in cage for best results. The old queen is dispatched and a frame of emerging brood is removed from the colony to be re-queened. Brush all the bees off the brood and locate the cage above cells of emerging brood and nectar. Place the new queen under the cage with no bees, and push the cage down into the comb. Replace the comb with cage in the broodnest, and in four days remove the cage. At that point, the brood under the cage will have emerged, and those young bees who have never seen a queen, will readily accept their new mama. There should be freshly laid eggs in the cells. This re-queening method gets the new queen into laying, and greatly increases the acceptance.

Hint: If you're not confident in handling queens, and are afraid the new queen might fly away, place the queen and cage while sitting in your car with windows up, or in front of a window in the house.

Good Luck, Mike