Update On My Top Bar Hive April 2017 – Death Cuddle – Grafting – Virgin Queen

On March 21 we did a hive. We couldn’t find the queen at first. But then we found her on the ground so we put her back into the hive and put the bars on. We went back in the about five minutes later and we found the bees balling or death cuddling Queen Elizabeth. We took the ball out and got her away from the other bees and put her in a mason jar because we didn’t know if we could save her.

Queen Elizabeth in the mason jar after her first death cuddle

Mr. J said that the bees kicked her out of the hive when we found her on the ground so they wanted to get rid of her. We decided to put her back since it seemed like they were superseding her which meant she wasn’t good for the hive anymore. Here are some videos of them balling her.

She died in the death cuddle. There were other queen cells in the hive so we split the hive into two hives and then waited three weeks for them to emerge from their cells and get mated. When we went in the hive three weeks later, we didn’t find a queen or eggs in either hive. Mr. H said the best thing to do would be to get a virgin queen bee and introduce her to hive. A virgin queen is best because it is like a regular bee and might be accepted easier by the hive. The night before we did this, we combined the hives back together. We separated a bar that had smaller comb and less bees and put her on top of it so she could walk down onto it. Mr. H told us to watch her in the hive for awhile to see if they ball her. The bees in the hive did ball her. Here is a video of her first try in the hive, you can see her with the yellow mark on her thorax (it ends right before she gets balled).

We took her out and put her back with her nurse bees in the cage. That night we tied the cage round a bar so it would hang and the other bees could get used to her pheromones.

Cage with Virgin Queen Attached to Top Bar

The next day we tried to introduce her again to the hive. And they balled her again. Only this time, they hurt her leg and she ended up dying. We took the virgin queen back to Mr. H’s house. He gave us a queen cell (inside there is a queen pupating) that he had taken from a colony that had lived inside a house’s roof. He told us to graft it on to one of our frames by splitting a piece of the comb and pushing the queen cell’s comb into the frame’s comb. Then we put it back in the hive and are waiting for her to emerge. Today she has not been killed, but don’t know if she has emerged. We’ll know soon since she should be emerging soon.

Queen Cell with Pupating Queen Cut Out From Hive in Roof

Queen Cell Grafted Onto Top Bar Comb

Posted in Bee Behavior, Bee Biology, Honeybee Caretaking, Queen Honeybee, Superseding, Top Bar Hive Update and tagged , , , , , , .


  1. That was very interesting. It is amazing how much goes into being a beekeeper. Good job Nina. I hope all goes well with the queen cell.

  2. Pingback: Catching A Swarm – One Bee Two Bee Honeybee Save Thee

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