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I was going to requeen my hives this coming week. I opened all three to have a last check and found 2 to be queenless (they had queens last weekend). I triple checked and am confident there is no queen. One had a recently-capped cell (so may have swarmed, but their numbers didn't seem any lower) and the other had 10+ cells with various stages of growth, none capped.

Both had eggs eggs, so there had been a queen there recently and it was a week since I'd last looked so don't think it was my doing. Both had very tatty queens that I wouldn't have thought were able to fly.

I closed up then searched again the next day (yesterday).

I have queens to collect on Tuesday.

 

What's the best way to requeen? I intended to just squash any remaining cells, and pop the queen in and let her chew her way out the enclosure. I haven't bought queens before so thought I should run this past someone knowledgeable.

 

 

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I agree with Alistair. If you have eggs then you have queens. When looking for queens I normally put an excluder between the two brood boxes and then come back four or five days later and whichever ha

You say the queen cells are in various stages, but both hives have eggs. The timing of that means that the queen cells were started while the queens were still there.   So the only reason yo

Thank you guys, this is good advice.   It was windy, wet and grey and 5.30pm, a terrible time to do it but I did another search and am more than slightly embarrassed to admit that both queen

Probably important - some of the queen cells were halfway up the frames in in both hives. It would seem strange for both to be supercedure and both die before their daughters had hatched.

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12 hours ago, cBank said:

I haven't bought queens before so thought I should run this past someone knowledgeable.

well I don't qualify in that regard.... I don't see a problem with your plan- here are some thoughts.

If your hives are of swarming strength, you will want to manage that-  ensure the new queen has room to work and the hatching brood had room to hang out.

If you want to take a belt and braces approach you could set up a couple of nucs - either with the new queens or the cells from the existing hives.. If the hives have gone queenless, there should be no eggs when you go to re-queen, confirming your thoughts.

 

A  question- what is your varroa treatment? is it in the hive now?

 

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You say the queen cells are in various stages, but both hives have eggs. The timing of that means that the queen cells were started while the queens were still there.

 

So the only reason you think there are no queens is you didn't see them. That can happen. Me, I would not be 100% there is no queens.

 

The hive that built 10 + queen cells while the queen was still there is preparing to swarm. We know that not from the position on the comb of the cells, but because there are 10+ cells. Superseding hives build one or two queen cells, or very occasionally, three.

 

If they were tatty old queens they may not have been able to fly. In that situation the bees, when trying to swarm, chase and badger the queen aggressively to make her fly, and if she just cannot, she often ends up dead. That might be the situation with one or both hives. But without actually taking a look it's not possible for me to say.

 

What can happen though if you put a bought mated queen in a hive that is preparing to swarm, is that as soon as she is released from the cage, the bees take her away in a swarm.

 

So since it sounds like you have caged mated queens on the way, your safest bet is to introduce the mated queens into small nucs that you can guarantee do not have a queen, and do not have queen cells. Queen cells hatch very quickly, so you will need to make the nucs now, and then leave any queen cells in the parent hives and see what developes. The idea, if you do not want to increase hive numbers, is to re combine them later, once the hives with queen cells have had time to sort themselves out, one way or the other.

 

Re the nucs. They will at first be queenless and the bees will tend to drift bak to the parent hive. So best option is to temporarily put them at a mates house far enough away to prevent drift. The other way is to put them where the parent hives were and move the parent hives a short distance. Only risk with that plan is that if there is already a hatched virgin or two, they might have learned the location and return to the nuc, which would be the end of the introduced mated queen.

 

 

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I agree with Alistair. If you have eggs then you have queens. When looking for queens I normally put an excluder between the two brood boxes and then come back four or five days later and whichever half has eggs has the Queen.

With older scruffy queens there can be a fine line between swarming  and supersedure. If there is no reason at all for a hive to raise swarm cells and especially if the brood is a bit patchy then I will destroy all but one cell and also spread the brood out a bit amongst empty frames and try and persuade them to supersede rather than swarm. I have also seen the opposite when they have every reason to swarm but conditions change suddenly like the main honey flow comes on and then they will occasionally supersede rather than swarm though don't depend on it.

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Thank you guys, this is good advice.

 

It was windy, wet and grey and 5.30pm, a terrible time to do it but I did another search and am more than slightly embarrassed to admit that both queens were found. Small, dark, fast and one was very tatty.

 

I made 3 Nucs. One is queenless (swarmy tatty one) and the other 2 have my queens. They are in the locations the parent hives were in. The hives are queenless. There are no queen cells anymore.

 

I believe young bees are more accepting of new queens (and hope they are) so this may help get the hives to accept the queens.

 

Ill keep an eye out to make sure bee numbers are ok in hives and Nucs as they won’t fit in the Nucs.

 

I haven’t had queens this hard to find before, that was miserable and I think I checked each frame 6-8 times (3 visits).

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