I replaced my queen last month. I switched from Italian to Carniolian. She is laying fine but today when I pulled out a brood frame there were two queen cells started at the bottom. She just happened to be on this frame so I know she is alive (she is also marked).
The question is are they trying to replace her or are they planning on swarming at this late date?
I currently have two supers on the hive. One is almost fully capped and the other still has plenty of room in it. The Purple Loostrife is in full bloom but they seem a little slow to fill the supers this year. I removed the queen excluder yesterday and put the almost full super over the brood chamber to keep the queen where she belongs.
General rule is if the queen cells are hanging from the bottom of the frame itself, they are swarm cells. If the cells are protruding from the face of the frame, they should be supercedure cells. Sometimes the hive pushes for a supersedure because they detect a disability or a slowdown that we cant detect yet, or at all. As for it being to late to swarm, well....they do stupid and crazy things too. Remember, if they are superceeding, that new queen will need to get out to mate. Did you notice any increase of drones or drone brood?
[This message has been edited by John Russell (edited August 03, 2004).]
Take action and do everything in your power to prevent them from swarming. Don't take it for granted that they won't swarm, they will. I would personally split the hive taking the frames with the swarm cells on them for the split. After they have raised their queen with those cells you can decide to keep them seperate, or cull the queen and combine them back into one strong hive again.
There are plenty of drones in this hive due to the problem I had earlier this summer of the queen laying in my drone foundation supers.
As for splitting, this is a DE hive and I don't have an extra set of bottom boards and covers. It takes quite a while to receive supplies from The Beeworks. I don't know if they can rush things. I do have a complete Langstroth ready to go in the basement but they are not interchangeable.
I destroyed those two cells but I didn't have time to search the entire hive. Way too hot & humid today and I only went in to demonstrate for my wife's friend.
Queen cells or cups?
I've heard that queen cups(empty, no eggs or larvae) are somewhat routine and while you may want to keep an eye on them, don't panic, they keep them around. Mine has them.
Maybe search on queen cup for more.
Queen cell is one that is being used, eggs, larvae, etc. This is when you have a problem. Watch for eggs.
My hive did swarm last august, but that was due to the fact that it needed a super that it didn't get and I hadn't bought it yet. Imagine the dismay and alarm when 1 week after receiving it half of the population swirls away into the great beyond....
As for the cells, I agree if they are just cups I wouldn't panic YET. As for the DE top and bottoms, you should always keep some spares around, but in the meantime you can just use a piece of plywood cut to fit the top (or overhang a bit if you like, but it catches the wind more) and the bottom can be just a piece of plywood the size of the hive with a 3/4" by 3/4" board nailed on three sides. In an emergency, you can even get by just putting the bottom box on a couple of blocks with the bottom wide open until you get your bottom board.