Should you treat with Apiguard when your colony is requeening?

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Posted by Andy Sivell | Posted in Apiguard Thymol, Beekeeping advice, Requeening re-queening | Posted on 04-10-2010

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Early September: Turns out the short answer is, “no”. Sadly I only find that out a day or two after I’ve placed a tray of Apiguard in my (now empty) super. I discover several posts on the subject on the rather excellent Beekeeping Forum. Apparently the smell of Thymol drives them nuts (the bees that is, not the members of the Forum). There’s a chance that my new queens will each hatch in turn, take a whiff, and pack their bags. Fire off an email to Robert. His response is: “You’ve started, so you must finish.”

Beehive frame packed with worker bees

Well you try spotting a queen among this lot

There also appears to be a lively debate online about whether or not one should tear down some of the queen cells. Cue another email to Robert: “No”.

At my next inspection I spend at least half an hour searching for a queen. All bar one of my queen cells appears to have hatched. I say “appears” because I daren’t shake the frames in case any of the new queens drop off. So instead I perform my inspection with hundreds of bees crawling all over the frames, my hands, arms, and veil positioned around two inches from the brood cells. Later Robert tells me that more than likely the first queen to hatch tore down the other queen cells, killing her younger sisters in the process. Either way I never find a queen. So here we go again.

I let us each retreat to our own corner for ten days before going back in. It’s late in the year, the weather’s deteriorating and there are precious few drones left knocking about. The odds are stacked against me. Even if I find the queen she may still not have mated, but the view is that find her I must. It’s therefore with huge relief that I spot her scrabbling about on Robert’s marked frame. She’s quite small and very dark, and her abdomen doesn’t have that swollen look I’ve seen on other queens. I’m guessing that’s because she’s still a virgin. Given that she’s had nearly two weeks to do something about it, it seems likely she’s going to remain one. There’s no sign of eggs.

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