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Bees in his Bonnet

Got a question from a reader, Louise:

Wondering if you’ve ever experienced this: We thought the bees had been particularly busy and were all set to add a second honey super on one hive. Went in to look at the first and were shocked to see that all the cells that should have been loaded with honey had larvae in them! We must have trapped the queen in above the excluder some how. We can’t figure out how she got up there otherwise. We’re not looking at drone cells either. So technically there are now three hive bodies on one hive. We plan to remove the unintended hive body (the honey super) in the fall and start over. Cannot figure out how this happened. We will place a honey super on top though–have moved the excluder, brushed off all bees before doing so.

We had 5 swarms this spring, not sure if this has anything to do with this–could the queen be small enough to fit through the excluder? We haven’t been able to spot her.

For myself, I don’t use a queen excluder: I figure a little bit of brood in the lower chamber is small price to pay for the extra ease of motion it gives the bees, and the cells tend to have hatched by the time I go to harvest in the Fall, anyway.

That said, it sounds to me like, despite their best efforts, the queen ended up on the wrong side of the barrier. I doubt it was that she slipped through, otherwise I would expect her to be able to slip through in the other direction, and she would certainly prefer to lay low than high.

Others have advice to share?

3 Responses to “Bees in his Bonnet”

  1. Linda T Says:

    It's possible that there is a queen in both the box below the excluder and in the box above the excluder. I would check to see if there are eggs in the lower box to make sure it isn't a sort of apartment complex hive with in essence two hives in one stack. Especially since they've had 5 swarms.

  2. Lisa Says:

    I have the same problem. Either I have 2 queens, or my queen is going through the excluder. SO, just to verify…..the best method ( similar to the not using an excluder) is to leave center super frames for the queen? Then when I take honey off, I would just leave those frames out? is that what you mean? I need some clarification as I am new to this! Thanks!

  3. Mark Says:

    Could be a few things. The queen excluder may have had a little section where it was large enough for the queen to sneak through. I had an older on of mine that was slightly enlarged in one section, apparently from the previous owner being a little too aggressive in the scraping process to clean the propolis off. Also, a new queen is slightly smaller when she first emerges, so she might have been able to sneak through in her early days.

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