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New beekeeper - Queen cells in hive

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summer_moth 

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Hi all, first post in this forum!

I have a question – I got my first hive last week and I went through the hive for the first time a few days ago. Everything seems ok, they were very calm and I found the queen with no problem, but I did find queen cells on around three of the frames. I broke them open and I think a couple of them had eggs in.

The queen is from last year and she seems to be laying well – there's lots of capped brood and I saw larvae & eggs (I think…I'm still getting my eye in). It's a full colony from a nuc last year, according to the chap from my local association who I got it from.

This is obviously my first experience of keeping bees – I went on a course last year, but I'm concerned about making mistakes. Can anyone offer me some advice? Why are they building queen cells (are they building up to swarm?) and what should I do/not do about it?

Thanks!
Sarah
 

taff.. 

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hello and welcome to the forum sarah, I'm a Noob as well so cant offer advice, sorry, but dont worry because someone else will be along shortly who can.

this question has been asked a few time recently and some of those threads may well answer your questions at least partially
 

MrTrueman 

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Well I am pretty new also, but here goes my say. But please bear in mind I am NEW!
Bees will put queen cells up, but most of the time they are just test cups. She can even lay eggs in them but the Bees will remove the eggs, I think the key thing is if they are primed with Royal jelly (white stuff looks like PVA glue). Could you see any?

Also what is the state of the hive, how many frames of brood and bees? Do they have enough space?
 

Hombre 

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Hi Sarah,
If there were several cells with eggs in, then you are on notice.

You broke the cells down. If you are very lucky that will be the end of the matter, but that is frankly very unlikely.

From breaking down you probably have eight days to a swarm if you didn't miss any cells, earlier if you did.

Assuming you got them all, the cells will probably be rebuilt and laid up overnight. Broke down on Wednesday, 3 days as eggs, 5 as grubs before the first cell is sealed and the queen and her entourage are away in a swarm if you do nothing. You only get to break the cells down once.
Thursday is D-day if you broke them down on Wednesday and they are true cells..

Do you know what sort of bees you have? Carniolan are reputedly predisposed to be swarmy and need lots of room. How full is the hive? Pressed for space they are likely to get the urge to swarm. Once they have that urge, you have to satisfy it somehow. the secret is how to accomplish this without losing bees.

What to do? Still with the assumption that you got them all, you will need to conduct an artificial swarm before day 8. This means that you will need a second hive ready.

Others will be along to advise you further regarding the AS, but if you have a mentor, I would seek his expert eye to back up your own observations. it is very easy to miss a cell which would screw up your period of grace that you started when you ripped down the cells.

It's just that time of year.

Good luck.

PS What Taf & MrTrueman says is true about test/play cups. Watch over the next few days for them being rebuilt and jellied up after the 3 day egg stage. Only then will you know that the clock started when you broke the cells down. Play cups themselves are a nothing.

This is my first year with two hives - going on four - having had them for six weeks, but working with bees two days a week for ten weeks. My experience is relatively low
 
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summer_moth 

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Well, I don't recall seeing anything that looked like PVA!

There are 8 frames with capped brood (including some drone brood) & I definitely saw uncapped larvae, I think eggs as well. I think there was only one frame in the brood box that hadn't been fully drawn out. All the frames with brood on were covered in bees.

There's a super with foundation in but they haven't started to draw it out yet.
 

summer_moth 

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Hombre - thanks for your advice, I'll probably give the chap from the association a call.

As I said, I think there were eggs in a couple of them but I'm not sure...
 

Finman 

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Wait couple of days. If eggs are turning larvae, make a false swarm to stop swarming fever. No help to break queen cups or queen cells.
 

taff.. 

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I'm glad you asked this question now, I've just been to my hive and found exactly the same, quite a number of queen cups as there have been every time I've looked but this time there were 3 or 4 with eggs in, no royal jellly. :eek:

I broke them all down and put a super on, in hind sight I should have put the super on last week, ho hum never mind thats learning

so as it is now I have 7 frames of brood, 1 foundation, and 3 stores and a super full of foundation to work on.

Wait couple of days. If eggs are turning larvae, make a false swarm to stop swarming fever. No help to break queen cups or queen cells.
Ah, wish I had read this before I went but never mind, at the next inspection I will take the kit with me to do an AS if its needed.


does that sound like a reasonable plan or am I missing something glaringly obvious?
 

Poly Hive 

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Confusion.

Queen cups with eggs are quite normal. They are NOT a swarming indicator.

There is no point in "breaking them down" they should in fact be there and the workers will move the eggs to a worker cell.

However if you see a cup with royal jelly in it then that is a positive indicator that the colony is into either supercedure mode or swarm mode and steps MUST be taken.

Please do not confuse the two situations.

PH
 

taff.. 

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Queen cups with eggs are quite normal. They are NOT a swarming indicator.

There is no point in "breaking them down" they should in fact be there and the workers will move the eggs to a worker cell.

However if you see a cup with royal jelly in it then that is a positive indicator that the colony is into either supercedure mode or swarm mode and steps MUST be taken.

Please do not confuse the two situations.

PH
thanks for that PH, that settles the nerves a bit :)

things should hopefully be fine for a little while yet then.

taff.. - off to read up on queen cups & royal jelly.

another upside of this mornings inspection is that I learned to shake the bee's off the frames because i wanted to have a really close look at them, I found that they didn't start attacking me or going bonkers despite the rough treatment and I can still say 'I'm a beekeper and I havn't been stung' (yet) :svengo:
 

Poly Hive 

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shake the bees off the frames as I wanted a close look?

At what and why. why disturb the bees for no reason THAT IS BENEFICIAL TO THEM?

Smoke and wait. Remove one frame from the brood box and (I lay it against the BB), store it out the way. Lift the next rame, lok over it, replace and continue. You might want to aim to be through a normal BB in three minutes. Or less.

There is NO benefit to the bees in guddling around for half an hour going.. "Oh look!"

In and out. Achieve what you want and they want and close up.

PH
 

Finman 

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does that sound like a reasonable plan or am I missing something glaringly obvious?
You get the answer when the swarm disaper to horizont.

Swarm preventing is not easy. Stopping with false swarm is quite sure case.
 

summer_moth 

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Queen cups with eggs are quite normal. They are NOT a swarming indicator.

There is no point in "breaking them down" they should in fact be there and the workers will move the eggs to a worker cell.

However if you see a cup with royal jelly in it then that is a positive indicator that the colony is into either supercedure mode or swarm mode and steps MUST be taken.

Please do not confuse the two situations.

PH
Thanks, that's pretty much the advice my local expert (the guy from the association who I got the bees from) gave me last night. He said not to worry at this stage - obviously to keep an eye on the situation when I inspect - and to spray the foundation in the super with sugar solution to encourage them to move up there and start drawing it out (since they haven't yet & that will give them more room to play with)
 

taff.. 

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shake the bees off the frames as I wanted a close look?

At what and why. why disturb the bees for no reason THAT IS BENEFICIAL TO THEM?

Smoke and wait. Remove one frame from the brood box and (I lay it against the BB), store it out the way. Lift the next rame, lok over it, replace and continue. You might want to aim to be through a normal BB in three minutes. Or less.

There is NO benefit to the bees in guddling around for half an hour going.. "Oh look!"

In and out. Achieve what you want and they want and close up.

PH

A close look at the frames without being covered in bee's


you were a novice and learnt from nothing at one point as well ;)
 
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Poly Hive 

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Taff? I was possibly taught better than you have been.

I never shook bees for the sake of it and I post for the general benefit not just on a personal basis.

Learn please and move on.

PHG
 

jimbeekeeper 

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sYou might want to aim to be through a normal BB in three minutes. Or less.

There is NO benefit to the bees in guddling around for half an hour going.. "Oh look!"

In and out. Achieve what you want and they want and close up.

PH
Spot on!
 

taff.. 

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Taff? I was possibly taught better than you have been.

I never shook bees for the sake of it and I post for the general benefit not just on a personal basis.

Learn please and move on.

PHG
Told me! :(


For what its worth, my 'mentor' told me to ring someone else if I had a problem, I don't know anyone else and coincidence has it that I havnt been able to make the assoc hive meets yet.

So lucky you for having a good mentor.
 

summer_moth 

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Quick update - when I inspected on Saturday there were three uncapped queen cells containing larvae & royal jelly. The chap from the local association is coming over tonight to lend me some extra equipment & do an artificial swarm with me. Wish me luck!

I've only had them 11 days! Nothing like being dropped in at the deep end ;-)
 

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