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Swarm or supercedure cells


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Hi, just checked my mid strength hive and found what seemed to be a supercedure cell, but then found what looked like swarm cells in the making, Royal jelly and larvae in 3 of them.

 

Queen still alive and laying well, so I have split the hive with the queen below and the supercedure cell with some open and capped brood above a screen board.

 

I took the "swarm" cells and out them into a queenless NUC that I made up two days ago in preparation of trying some grafting, so hopefully they raise them.

 

Question is why a supercedure and then swarm cells at different stages and does what I did make sense. If they still want to get rid of the queen they will anyway, but I was wondering if it was worth trying a Taranov board on the lower boxes in case they are planning to swarm, anyone tried that?

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Question is why a supercedure and then swarm cells at different stages and does what I did make sense.
Because you have been fed wrong information about how to tell the difference between a hive that is superseding and a hive that is swarming.

 

Position of the queen cells has little to do with it, contrary to the story that's going around.

 

Yes, what you did makes sense.

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Because you have been fed wrong information about how to tell the difference between a hive that is superseding and a hive that is swarming.

 

Position of the queen cells has little to do with it, contrary to the story that's going around.

 

One of the most 'fascinating' aspects of bee husbandry.

How 'do' you observe the difference, please?

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If bees are going to swarm they will raise quite a few cells, maybe a dozen or so. That's because they will send out a swarm with the old queen and need a queen to replace her. But also if they can they will send out more swarms afterwards, with the young queens as they hatch.

 

But if they are only wanting to supersede the queen they only need one new queen so don't build a lot of cells, they mostly just build one, two, or possibly three.

 

This is swarming time of the year so if a hive has plenty of bees and has more than 3 queen cells, it is a pretty safe bet they plan to swarm. If it is autumn, the hive has an old queen, and the hive has 1 or two queen cells it is most likely supersedure. What's going on in the hive tells us what the bees intentions are, the exact position of the cells on the combs has nothing to do with it.

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  • 2 months later...

A new beekeeper ... I have a 2 box hive, and noticed one queen cell in the bottom brood box in the centre of a frame last week. Also found the queen on an adjacent frame who seemed well. There are no other swarm cells or cups on any frames. Given what I have read from various sources I am inclined to leave the bees alone rather than intervene. The colony is still growing (It was formed as a nuc late Oct with a new queen from a reputable apiary) with 2-4 frames in the top box still being drawn out so by no means overcrowded ..I can only assume that the queen is for some reason not performing...

 

So the question is, let them be or intervene and split?

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whats the brood pattern like?

how many frames of bees does it have?

at the risk of being insulting, are you sure its a queen cell?

 

as long as the brood is ok i would remove the queen cell.

the reason for not letting it do its thing, is to get the hive up to strength before requeening it. at the moment its quite weak.

what ever you do, do not split it. as you would end up with two very weak nucs that are likely to fail.

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they say it is better to remain silent and appear a fool rather than open your mouth and remove all doubt.... but what the hell here goes. I would propose you take the brood frame with the cell and one frame of pollen/nector-honey and put it in a separate Nuc box at a separate site. Then I would wait to see what happens in the parent hive if they make more cells and monitor brood pattern. Meanwhile if the cell hatches and you end up with a laying queen in 5 weeks, great, it has only cost you two frames and you have the option of squashing the new queen and recombining or better still, giving the new queen to a fellow bee club member who wants one. If there is any evidence that the current queen is not working out you could remove that failing queen into another Nuc box and introduce your new mated queen via a cage with candy instead to see if she is any better. Ultimately, you have one strong hive at the end of it with the best queen and have recombined any Nuc's you created along the way. But you retained some options and control and didn't risk the right queen being killed by the wrong queen by chance, until you knew which was which.

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I would propose you take the brood frame with the cell and one frame of pollen/nector-honey and put it in a separate Nuc box at a separate site.

might be ok for a pro, but a newbee would highly likely end up with a dead nuc or possibly both dead.

last thing i would be doing is weakening up the hive at this stage unless i absolutely had to.

 

its a dilemma you often do get. do you keep going with a poor queen and struggle to get up to strength, or replace her and hope the drop in size is survivable and that the new queen can build back up in time for some flow and end of season.

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Ok, well it's hard to know, I'm only a beginner too, but we have pulled off a similar stunt with 5 new mated queens confirmed from various similar situations recently.

However, I would not dare attempt it early in spring. But right now; Jan/Feb could be the easiest time of year to make the most of this 'opportunity'.

Part of the reason to put that proposal to the forum was to learn what others thought or would recommend..

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Part of the reason to put that proposal to the forum was to learn what others thought or would recommend..

all good :) keep it coming.

 

they say it is better to remain silent and appear a fool rather than open your mouth and remove all doubt

that never stops anyone on a forum........:whistle: :D

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Great to find this forum and for your input folks - thanks. The queen cell is hanging vertically, uncapped at present. The brood pattern (including drones) across all frames is good and there is plenty of honey / nectar / pollen in framesand no disease.. so it must be the queen's non performance for me..

 

I have been advised by others that a split would be the way to go however, as Tristan says, my concern is that I will end up with two week Nucs late in the season who will struggle.. Leaving them alone 'feels right' and we'll see if they simply replace the queen or swarm ..

 

I noticed that you are in Maungatoroto Tristan - would you be interested in being a beekeeper for me in the Kaipara - I have a 10 acre block in Paparoa and will be putting hives onto it next year.. I am based in Christchurch having moved down for work a couple of years back and keen to develop the Bee Farm we initiated before we headed South..

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The brood pattern (including drones) across all frames is good and there is plenty of honey / nectar / pollen in framesand no disease.. so it must be the queen's non performance for me..

if brood pattern is good then its probably not queens performance.

i would get rid of the queen cell.

 

 

I noticed that you are in Maungatoroto Tristan - would you be interested in being a beekeeper for me in the Kaipara

not at the moment. already got 1000 odd to look after and i like my weekends. :)

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Hi Peter - yep, on the outskirts of town in Oak Tree Lane, where are you? I may well take you up on your offer if the bees decide to swarm although doubt much will happen today unless the weather improves :)

I'm out of town on Larcombs rd, so not far really.

Your bees have town and country foraging - the best of both worlds :)

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  • 3 weeks later...
all good :) keep it coming.

 

that never stops anyone on a forum........:whistle: :D

Hi All

Well rain gone, sun out and checked out the hive... Strong numbers of healthy bees, honey stores and brood and they were well behaved and carried on about their business whilst I had a look at the queen cell..

 

The cell has been destroyed with no evidence of a second queen, so I get the feeling that the bees did what they needed to do and all is well.. Fascinating ;)

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