Spot the queen competition

I’ve posted before about why clipping the queen helps … here’s a rather more dramatic example. This colony from the bee shed – in the middle of a Pagden artificial swarm – decided it was time to go. Since the queen was clipped they regrouped at the colony entrance so – at least as far as beekeeping is concerned – ‘all was not lost’.

Clipped queen swarm

Clipped queen swarm

“Clipping the queen” refers to the slight shortening of one of the queens wings. This prevents her from flying – or at least from flying any distance or with any control. Whilst it’s not possible to determine whether the queen feels any pain when its being done, clipped queens lead long, natural and productive lives, so I don’t think it’s detrimental to them. It’s certainly beneficial for the beekeeper and beekeeping. The wing on a queen is clipped after she is mated … 😉

I’ll discuss swarm control and prevention in the bee shed (when I achieve it)  😉

This is the first of series of irregular midweek photograph posts.

5 thoughts on “Spot the queen competition

  1. Ed Lewis

    Is the queen marked, if so what colour spot? and is this a trick question? Great picture, shows the value of wing clipping.

    1. David Post author

      I’m colourblind so only mark white or blue in alternate years but it is a bit of a trick question … 😉
      A follow-up next week.

  2. Ed Lewis

    I’m not colour blind, but do a similar thing alternating red and blue. Five pens seems a bit unnecessary when I really just need the spot to help find her. Ed

  3. Bridget Clyde

    We had our first swarm on Monday and we are in our fifth year of beekeeping. The skep I made was christened. The swarm was not very big but in a very awkward place in a tree but down a steep bank.
    We decided to relocate it into a brood box out side the bee house, but just under what would become its eventual entrance/exit. This seemed to work OK, we moved them inside in the late evening yesterday with some bits of grass on the landing pad. Seem to be flying fine today despite the damp and humid conditions.
    Always finding design faults in the shed. One colony is building very fast, now on two brood boxes and one super. Fraser thinks they will need another brood box soon but we don’t have the height, The beam along the window ledge obstructs the height. Too heavy to move outside the shed now, we could fit another super on top but he feels they need more room for brood. I suppose we could take some frames of brood and some young bees out and start another colony in one of our spare nucs.
    I shall be interested in your swarm control methods in the shed. We can’t do the vertical because of height and also because we don’t have the space for the two entrances.

    1. David Post author

      Hi Bridget
      Swarm control in the bee shed is ‘in progress’ as they say. As you can see from the picture above it’s not been 100% successful, though the bees weren’t lost. Several of my colonies got to two broods, though I’ve never needed three, but I’ve just been to remove three of the four supers on one colony which pretty-much reached the roof of the shed.
      I’ve simplified the entrance ‘design’ (which makes it sound a lot grander than it really is) which is an improvement. My colonies are set back from the side wall of the shed by about 6″ which means the internal framework doesn’t get in the way … this was an entirely accidental design feature 😉
      I usually leave a bait hive in each apiary in the hope of attracting any swarms I might lose – or even attract those lost by others. It also sometimes saves me having to climb ladders. I’ve had two like that this year – one almost certainly mine, one definitely not.
      Let’s hope the weather picks up again … I need it for good queen mating conditions.

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