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Honeybee Help! Caught a Swam. Missing Queen?..

Posts: 24
Location: Mendocino Coast, CA
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Hello all

I'm a beginner bee-keeper.. staaaarting now!

We're trying to figure out if we have a queen.. and if not, recommendations
on where to get one?.. here is the story!

A swarm formed in our plum tree two days ago... We caught them in a box but
a good amount of them kept returning to the tree and balling up.. I wasn't
here but it sounds like a ball from the tree took off and left.. (maybe
with the queen?)

The remaining bees are in a top-bar hive that we built yesterday..(we put a
good amount of honey in there with them) When we moved them into the
top-bar this morning we saw that they had already starting building comb...
(will they build comb w/o a queen present?)

My nerve is steadily growing and I've peaked into the top bar a few times
but haven't been able to spot a queen..

What's next? Does anyone have a good queen source? Should I go ahead and
order one to be safe? I would hate to loose em..

Thank you all!
Posts: 3562
Location: woodland, washington
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it's still early in swarm season. personally, I would just wait and see how your new colony fares and look for other swarms in the mean time. any queen you're able to purchase isn't likely to be satisfactory in the long run.
Posts: 310
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
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On the bright side, if bees swarmed to your plum tree once, they are likely to do it again in the future. Keep an eye out, or place a bait hive in the tree.
Milo Stuart
Posts: 24
Location: Mendocino Coast, CA
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Thanks ya'll turns out we have a queen! Our neighbor happens to be a beekeeper, he came over a spotted her..

In case anyone else runs into this scenario here are some solutions from some great bee keepers..

"This is the most difficult part of beekeeping. If there is a queen they will build worker size cells when the build comb, if not they build drone sized cells (larger). that only helps if you have enough experience to recognize the difference. there will be 1 egg in each cell and brood in some cells right away if there is a queen. If you could get a comb of brood with eggs from a nearby hive that could be somehow fit in they would start queen cells on some young larva if there is not a queen. I will be in Covelo, CA near Willits, CA off of 101 and will teach a topbar workshop there May 10-11 see details but am presently in Jamaica. If you can determine that there is no queen you might get a queen and I have no good recommendation. I would look on line for a close queen. i will have some but not soon enough."
- Les Crowder author of "Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health"

"It is quite likely you didn't catch the queen though the bees usually won't stay in the hive and will return to the swarm. There may have been two queens in the swarm. The only way to know for sure is to look for egg- if she is the original queen- she will lay eggs as soon as there are cells built to lay them in. If she is a virgin queen- she will need to be mated and it should be a week or two before you see eggs. You can always put in a frame with 1 or 2 day old egg and see if they build a queen cell around it - then you know for sure they don't have a queen. Ordering a new queen if you have one would be to requeen but you have to be sure there is no old queen or they will kill her." - A local beekeeper

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