Is it just me? Why is finding the queen so hard

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5
10
Rocky Gully Western Australia
Experience
International
I have kept bees for the past 30 years and to this day I still really struggle finding the queen in populous hives. Normally dont worry about it as if brood is ok so is the queen but occasionally raise my own queens and I find my incompetence in this aspect a right pain.

Ps would rather buy quality queens but thats easier said than done as I live in Western Australia and we have limited sources of good queens and can't import from the eastern states due to quarantine. Not grumbling about that though as we are also free of EFB and hive beetle.
 
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Thanks mate! As a newbie, I feel quite exonerated by your experience, as to my lack of prowess at spotting the queen! I am running at about a 20% strike rate at seeing her!
 
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Christchurch
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I find that these are the two best queen spotting techniques:
1. Remove a frame but look down into the hive at the face of the next frame and you could see her. Stands out like the proverbial dogs b...s
2. Don’t stare at the bees on the frame you are holding, but look at it like you are looking at one of those 3D pictures, sort of out of focus, so you are taking in the whole frame all at once.
 

Mummzie

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this was the subject of a conversation last night-
hints offered were-
* look for the bees behaviour- they will make way for the queen to move around.
* try finding her during the day while there is some of the hive population out foraging
* if you can avoid it, don't smoke the hive as it causes the queen to run.
* scan round the edge of the frame, then scan in a M pattern over the face of the frame.
* she's harder to see in dull light
* scan for the different abdomen shape

Sometimes they seem to know -recently I had to take 3 trips to a 4 frame nuc to locate a queen I wanted to replace !
 
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Dave Black

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All good tips. Also, make room to pair frames, wait, the lift and open the pair like a book, checking the 'interior' faces.

But I 'spose, I generally don't bother in big hives. If I have to, I either break them up with QXs, or move the hive to one side and fly the foragers off into a spare box and then go through the hive. Some strains make it more difficult than it should be, in which case mark the queens before the colony gets big. Too much smoke or rough handling seems to ensure she's on the woodwork and nowhere near a frame.

In desperation, shake the bees into a spare box and let them move back to their brood through a QX. That's pretty foolproof.
 
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great barrier island
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I have kept bees for the past 30 years and to this day I still really struggle finding the queen in populous hives. Normally dont worry about it as if brood is ok so is the queen but occasionally raise my own queens and I find my incompetence in this aspect a right pain.

Ps would rather buy quality queens but thats easier said than done as I live in Western Australia and we have limited sources of good queens and can't import from the eastern states due to quarantine. Not grumbling about that though as we are also free of EFB and hive beetle.
I find not smoking the hive helps. The queen is usually where you expect her to be, on a frame with new eggs. I also agree with checking the frame next to the one you’ve pulled out. You’d be amazed how often you see her running for the bottom of the frame .
 
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Sailabee

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Definitely not my strongest point, but find Italian queens with no stipes standout far better, and helps solve the problem. Also, as a friend has suggested, if you turn the frame to horizontal, and look across it, the queen has longer legs, so is 'taller' on the frame, and can make her easier to see.
 
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UK
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Some queens just seem to present themselves to you, sometimes they just won't be found. I think it's a female perogative! I think my eye gets better as the season goes along and I can spot them easier in the autumn. Legs can be a give-away, looking at an angle to the frame. And no or little smoke. However, if you have a double brood-box hive, if you smoke at the entrance (gently) and give them a few moments, there's a good chance that she will be in the top box which reduces inspection time and if you move this box to one side, it will not gain any flyers.
Of course books often tell you to smoke the entrance which drives the bees up, and then they tell you to take the top off the hive and smoke at the top to drive them down! A good way to confuse the colony and scatter the queen to the woodwork.
 

Dave Black

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It might seem obvious, the sequence you use to check the boxes matters. I've lost count of the beginners I see who start at the top and work down. By the time they get to where the queen might be they have to try and sort through a writhing mess that boils over the sides and seems to contain just about every bee in the colony plus a few!
 
5,526
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canterbury
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Queen finding ..... somedays you do, someday you don't. The rule of thumb is that when you want the queen , you can't find her, and when you don't, you find her on the first frame.
We generally just check for eggs and brood, and if all is good, we move on. ....
We do a lot of dividing with queen excluders and come back in three days and look for eggs.....
We do a lot of shaking bees from frames of brood and placing them above queen excluders and come back in half an hour....

And sometimes in desperation we hunt down the queen , but don't waste too much time on it , philosophically sighing ..... I'll find yah next time.
 
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5
10
Rocky Gully Western Australia
Experience
International
Queen finding ..... somedays you do, someday you don't. The rule of thumb is that when you want the queen , you can't find her, and when you don't, you find her on the first frame.
We generally just check for eggs and brood, and if all is good, we move on. ....
We do a lot of dividing with queen excluders and come back in three days and look for eggs.....
We do a lot of shaking bees from frames of brood and placing them above queen excluders and come back in half an hour....

And sometimes in desperation we hunt down the queen , but don't waste too much time on it , philosophically sighing ..... I'll find yah next time.
Yep thats pretty well what I do, mind you over the years have also had some great adventures juggling boxes and queen excluders when requeening booming hot hives. Such fun and good luck trying that with no smoke!
BIG THANKS for all the responses.
Asked the question as I feel I should be better at spotting her than I am. I use pretty all of the tricks noted above though the looking out of focus 3d style is interesting.
 
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"...have also had some great adventures juggling boxes and queen excluders when requeening booming hot hives. Such fun and good luck trying that with no smoke!"

Hot hives are a bit more interesting! Moving to one side to get rid of the foragers is a good start.
 
E

Earthboy

Guest
Ex
I find that these are the two best queen spotting techniques:
1. Remove a frame but look down into the hive at the face of the next frame and you could see her. Stands out like the proverbial dogs b...s
2. Don’t stare at the bees on the frame you are holding, but look at it like you are looking at one of those 3D pictures, sort of out of focus, so you are taking in the whole frame all at once.
Excellent advice. If you are holding the frame, try to tilt the frame up and down a bit to create a different degree of angle, as well. Look at the very edge of the frame; she has just move to the bottom side of the frame.
 

NickWallingford

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Tauranga
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We once tried to convince a young guy who was having trouble keeping up with the rest of us finding queens that there was a simple trick. If you hold the frame in front of you, one lug toward you, and one pointing to the sun, the queen will always be on the left side of the frame. It took him a bit of time to realise it depends somewhat on which lug you point to the sun (having already located the queen beforehand).
 
E

Earthboy

Guest
Another way to "train" your eyes would be watching number of videos that show the queen shot; this way you can quicken your experience of seeing and then anticipating how she looks like, for spotting queens become easier as your experience in beekeeping starts to build up.
 


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