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Teemore 

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Just a few points I'm looking for opinions on....

Background: A friend of mine has a colony that has been making swarm preparations for a while but an actual swarm has been staved off (so far)... The colony was started from a Nuc at the beginning of June and is in a Commercial Hive with one super. All frames in the brood box have been drawn and there are good quantities of pollen, nectar and honey. Four or five frames in the super are being worked by the colony - my mate may have been a bit slow in adding the super - hence the swarming issues...

On Wednesday night i helped carry out an inspection on the colony. Eight days previously it had been inspected and was found to have a number of charged swarm cells and what appeared to be three capped supercedure cells i.e they were built out from the face of the frames. This combination of swarm/supercedure type Q cells may be strange, i haven't the experience to comment. The Q cells were capped over a 2 day period. The swarm cells were broken down and two of the supercedure cells were left in place, frame markers being placed and notes made to ID where these Q cells were. The existing queen was removed to an apidea along with a couple of cups of bees and was transferred to another apiary for observation and (if needed) possible unification back into the parent colony.

On Wednesday the hive sounded and behaved Q right; we went through the hive quickly and found a number of small swarm cells had again emerged at the bottom of frames. Could their creation have been triggered by removal of the old Queen? The marked supercedure Q cells were completely gone - absolutely no trace left of them. I have already teased my mate that he must have damaged them when he was putting the frames back into the hive!! How soon will the colony break down a Q cell once the Queen has hatched?

One frame had a capped Q cell but I noticed a hole at the top of it next to the comb (this was a large mid frame Q cell). This cell had been built up and capped since the previous inspection. There was even a worker popping in and out of the hole. My (limited) understanding is that the queen will emerge from the tip of the Q cell - could she have emerged from the top of the cell?
Does the fact that the hole was in the side of the cell and at the top suggest that a newly hatched virgin has broken into the cell and dispatched one of her rivals?


How soon would a colony break down other Q cells that are capped but in earlier stages of development once a satisfactory Queen has hatched? (I'm thinking about the fact that there were a number of charged and capped swarm cells on frames at the start of the inspection

As insurance we left one Q cell intact (nice long cell positioned mid frame in the centre of the brood box). There will be another inspection next week and possibly a test frame of eggs introduced...

Any thoughts and recommendations would be welcomed! :drool5:
 

oliver90owner 

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Could their creation have been triggered by removal of the old Queen?

Yes, but more likely because they are in swarming mode and posibly because the other cells are/were duds.

How soon will the colony break down a Q cell once the Queen has hatched?

Usually not for some time. If cells are broken down it often means there is another queen in there.

could she have emerged from the top of the cell?

No.

Does the fact that the hole was in the side of the cell and at the top suggest that a newly hatched virgin has broken into the cell and dispatched one of her rivals?

Not definitively.

How soon would a colony break down other Q cells that are capped but in earlier stages of development once a satisfactory Queen has hatched?

See previous reply above.

----------

My thoughts:

Once in swarming mode, a swarm is likely to happen unless swarm control is used (A/S).

Breaking down queen cells to stave off swarming is a very short term measure and almost certain to fail after the second or third round, especially if inspections are only carried out weekly.

Supercedure prevention is tantamount to saying you know better than the bees. An unlikely scenario.

Later so-called swarm cells could be emergency cells?

There are some good books out there which contain large tracts of information on beehive behaviour. You need to avail yourself with at least one of these.

It is easier to keep things simple and not try to beat the bees into submission. Things will only get more complicated and more likely to end in an unsatisfactory way.

Recommendations:

Inspect more regularly than eight days between if imminent swarming is suspected, or do the A/S to pre-empt it.

Read that book.

Keep fingers crossed and use a test frame after all chance of a queen cell hatching unless you see a queen.

Leave them alone if there is likely a virgin queen present See previous para.

Regards, RAB
 

Teemore 

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Cheers for that - i'll be passing on the recommendation for more frequent inspections. I wasn't present when the first swarm cells were spotted and broken down but when he told me about the swarm cells my thoughts (and comments) were for him to do an A/S. He has had a new hive sitting ready for the past few weeks.... His mentor was present when the old quenn was transferred to an Apidea and the two 'missing' supercedure cells were left in the hive - unfortunately he is on holiday this week....
 

Poly Hive 

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Further to the above.

There are either swarm cells or supercedure cells , but not both at the same time.

If a colony has incipient queen cells or play cups or what ever you want to call them as SOON as there is Royal Jelly in them it is a declaration of intent to swarm.

There is NO other way of dealing with the colony that I know of than to A/S in some manner or other.

I would thoroughly recommend the reading of a good beekeeping book other wise there is going to be serious trouble, and why should the bees suffer?

PH
 

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