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how big is a swarmed colony?

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RoseCottage 

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Or how long is a piece of string?


So I did not see my queen at the last couple of inspections but did find several capped queen cells.

Logically she may well have gone...couldn't see eggs either due to lighting conditions.

However the colony is huge and still really busy, as though they were all still living at home.

So after a colony swarms what amount are left behind? Do all the flying bees leave? if so I still have lots of these,

All comments welcome,
Sam
 
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oliver90owner 

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Yes, logically she has gone, unless these were a 'few' supercedure cells - or the queen died suddenly and they made emergency cells.

The queen may leave with up to about half the complement of workers.

That said, there will be some (or quite a lot of) foragers left behind and these will be reinforced very quickly from the house bees, which in turn will be bolstered by the emerging brood.

Added into the equation is that as the next week (queenless) rumbles by there will be a decreasing number of developing larvae, so the collecting ability of the foragers will eventually outstrip the colony needs and stores should rise disproportionately quickly.

House bees will be in abundance so the hive may appear busy at the usual inspection time. Then it will be down-hill for a brood cycle as the new queen emerges (and there is little hatching brood remaining) for the next three weeks, or more.

Overall, it will mean a lot less honey collected, especially if there is still a strong nectar flow, but it may not affect the overall production quite as much if the flow ceases abruptly, with nothing much available elsewhere. Generally it will mean a lot less honey stored.

That is why we do regular weekly inspections - so that going for increase can be accomplished with minimal or no loss of production by an 'artificial swarm'. That means all the bees are still there collecting nectar and only the one virgin queen is required - not enough flying bees in that hive, when she emerges, for her to take many bees as a cast swarm (so she stays and kills the other virgin queen before emergence).

Either you now have an extra colony, or the old queen can be replaced by re-uniting the colonies later, after removing the old queen.

Regards, RAB
 
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If the queen was clipped you won't have lost any bees, only the queen, so what you have found would be correct. It is vital you remove all but one of the capped queen cells but to be safe you could split the colony and use as many of the queen cells as possible in nucs. Whatever you do, with no eggs, don't remove all the queen cells.
 

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