Emergency Cells

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Drone Bee
Nov 9, 2008
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Still getting my head around how the workers react to Queen Cells, if they are supercedure or swarm cells and you leave a handful in the hive i understand now that as each hatch out they will leave and take a cast with them.

What about Emergency Cells, for arguments sake if you have given a queenless swarm or colony a frame of eggs and they draw 3-4 emergency cells, when those hatch out, what is the reaction that takes place likely to be ? will the first queen to emerge kill the others.
I think the same rules apply. You could still get a cast if you leave more than one.
So ultimately it really doesnt matter if they are Swarm/Supercedure or Emergency cells, you should never leave more than one sealed cell in a hive at any one time ?
There is no hard and fast rule here.

I leave two cells to be sure that one has a viable virgin in it.

As for casting THAT depends on how swarmy the strain of bee is. Its not maths, its genetics.

I have found that whether you get a cast or not depends upon the number of bees in a colony. If you have 2 cells and a lot of bees you are likely to get a cast. If you have a little nuc with a couple of frames of bees, you probably wont. In that sense I would argue the opposite of PH in that it is maths rather than genetics.
Just my own observations.
I have never had a cast to my knowledge however what precisely are we discussing here? A full colony or a nuc?

I have just been trying to get things straight in my head, this spring i have come across all three types of QC, and i have been reacting differently to them, and i am sure i have lost a cast or two because i have left more QC than i should have.

With swarm i would leave just one after an AS.

But with supercedure i thought you should leave more than one, the first would hatch and kill the others, the same for Emergency.

But it would seem the only way to not lose a number of casts is to only ever leave 1 cell to hatch out. Or if its a small nuc or swarm perhaps leave 2.

Just trying to establish one process, for me to use with regard to QC, instead of what i have done in the past.
this is not a one size fits all situation.

We are all right though I think two cells are safe, however I am discussing proper queenless hives when I say so.

with a swarmy hive, as in a hive about to swarm evidenced by numbers of queen cells, the best plan is to find the queen, remove her and leave a very young grub in a queen cell to give them time to cool off a bit.

An emergency cell is where the queen is lost, usually due to beekeeper error. There again can be several of these and its better to knock off the older ones and select one with a yong grub to offer a better chance of a good queen.

Supercedure now then. It is more common than may think as most don't mark or clip. Mainly as they canna find HM!

It takes time to get to know your type of bee and how they behave. I can safely state, as I can find queens, I do clip and I do mark, that the majority of my colonies when I ran AMM superceeded on the heather.

As I say though it takes time to know your strain and then that vexing question when the cell numbers are low of is it a sup cell or a swarm cell become clear. Mind you a colony getting ready to swarm will likely be more idle whiles a sup colony is going on full toot.


You mentioned;
Mind you a colony getting ready to swarm will likely be more idle whiles a sup colony is going on full toot.

You say the colony ready to swarm will become idle.
Could you expand on that to explain exactly what's happening within the colony?

Thank you.

PH I hope you don't mind that I will answer my question.

Reply to Poly Hive as he seems to have navigated passed the question I asked.

The question was; You say the colony ready to swarm will become idle.
Could you expand on that to explain exactly what's happening within the colony?

Let’s start with swarming is preceded by a huge increase in egg lying by the queen.
The increase is something like up to 2,000 eggs per day. Because of this there will be a population explosion within the colony. So by the time swarming is imminent the colony is made up of a large percentage of very young bees.
Another event preceding swarming is the queen lays eggs in the cups within the brood nest. During this time the bees that normally feed the queen will feed her less as the days go by.
We mentioned the large population explosion, so what do the young nurse bees do when there is little brood to feed? These bees become inactive (as mentioned by PH), as the majority will fly with the swarm.
So several days before swarming an abnormal number of bees can be seen resting quietly on the bottom of combs. It’s during this time that the Scout bees are out looking for new nesting places. On return they perform the wag-tail dance to indicate where a new nesting site can be located; these dances can last for many hours.

Shortly before the swarm departs the bees engorge with honey. On a calm warm day the searchers perform a special dance, named the “whir” dance that incites 20 or so thousand bees to swarm. Highly excited the searchers force their way among the bees with running steps and vibrating their abdomens, and their wings make the “whirring” sound. Eventually the swarm emerges in a frenzy of flight that to the uninitiated can be frightening.
Within a few minutes the swarm will settle along with the queen, on some foliage of some sort. Now the swarm realise they have a queen with them will move off to another resting place where the scout bees continue to locate nesting sites and report back doing the dances that indicate new sites.
I won’t go into what happens when the bees settle into a cluster, as that is for another time maybe.

Thanks Bcrazy,I enjoyed reading that.
Is the waggle dance in swarming much different to a waggle food dance to the beekeepers eye ?
Glad you did Bcrazy as I am not up for writing a book.

Bernard Mobus used to say that the nurse bees became replete with nectar and as they were so stuffed full they idled, as we do after a roast dinner.

Hi Admin,

The waggle dance in this instance is performed by the scout bees regarding new nesting sites, and nothing to do with the initiation of the swarming bees.
This is caused by the whir dance that becomes progressive throughout the colony with bees getting excited and it seems as if its infectious.
So its the whir for the swarming procedure.
Hope that clears any misinterpretation.:confused:

I spent a very amused hour once watching a swarm deliberate over which of two hives to take over. The to-ing and fro-ing was a hoot to watch.


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