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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord NH
    Posts
    2,668

    Default Swarm/Supercedure Cells from a Bees Perspective

    I would like to pose a question to folks about Swarm and Supercedure Cell positioning from the Bees perspective.

    Two scenarios.

    First: The colony is a new one this year and is 2 deeps high. They are about 3/5 the way through drawing out the second deep with tons of capped brood and a healthy amount of egg/larva in the second box.....along with a big capped queen cell on the bottom of a frame in the top box.

    Do the bees look at the 2 high frames as a single section of comb or as two separate ones?

    I don't think the conditions I described are typical for either swarm or supercedure.

    I'm tempted to take that frame with the QC along with a second frame of bees out to start a nuc and see what they do.....if they swarm and things go badly I can combine later and no problem....if they don't swarm then no problem as there is enough new eggs for them to build a supercedure cell if they really need to.

    Second: Similar config (2 deeps) only one fully draw out but the colony appears to have swarmed in the last couple days, population is not as strong as it was and there are definately 2 supercedure cells.

    In a scenario with a dwindling population and 2 SC's not a ton of capped brood and no eggs/larvae will the queen that hatches tend to kill the second one and actually stay with the colony after she mates or is she likely to swarm?

    I guess what I am trying to better understand is the after swarm scenarios that cause after swarms instead of the new queen sticking with the colony?
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    3,670

    Default Re: Swarm/Supercedure Cells from a Bees Perspective

    Swarming and superseding are two distinctly different processes. Ih hive one, it sounds like you have a swarm cell due to its location. Typically, there are more than one cells in the colony. Is it possible that you have a supersedure cell? If so, they don't like their old queen. If you pull the cell, you might make the donor hive queenless. If you're willing to risk it, go ahead. You're right, you can always combine. Keep in mind that if it is a supersedure cell and if your hive is queenright, they still won't like the queen so keep an eye on things.

    The second hive may have swarmed but you mention supersedure cells. If those are truly supersedure cells, I might suggest that the hive hasn't swarmed but instead, that you are queenless or that the queen is failing....hence their desire to make a new queen. Yes, the first queen to emerge will knock off her sisters.

    Now for after swarms. Swarming is complex, just like bees. The colony has a "group" mind that decides how to act. So long as the swarming desire is there and there are available queens to swarm with, they will do so. It's hard enough to stop swarming, much less stop after swarming once they get going.

    I would check you colonies again and decide if what you're seeing is supersedure or swarming.....or maybe both.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,985

    Default Re: Swarm/Supercedure Cells from a Bees Perspective

    jpk writes followed by tecumseh remarks:
    Two scenarios.

    First: The colony is a new one this year and is 2 deeps high. They are about 3/5 the way through drawing out the second deep with tons of capped brood and a healthy amount of egg/larva in the second box.....along with a big capped queen cell on the bottom of a frame in the top box.

    Do the bees look at the 2 high frames as a single section of comb or as two separate ones?
    tecumseh> I don't think they look at this as anything besides home(this kind of thinking is extremely antropromorphic). they don't tend to like to uncap and they have have plenty of stores coming in the front door so they begin backfilling the broodnest which constricts the brood nest which then induces swarming. the hives set up may have somewhat to highly encourged the current condition the hive finds itself in.... are you certain there is only one cell??? I would most defintely look for others given your description of this hive.

    I don't think the conditions I described are typical for either swarm or supercedure.
    tecumseh> yes it is more typical for a hive to swarm in year two. once again this leads me to think your hive set up should be rethought.

    I'm tempted to take that frame with the QC along with a second frame of bees out to start a nuc and see what they do.....if they swarm and things go badly I can combine later and no problem....if they don't swarm then no problem as there is enough new eggs for them to build a supercedure cell if they really need to.
    tecumseh> if I wished to fill more boxes this is exactly what I would do (including appropriate counter stragies if things go poorly). I would also consider rearranging the hive (after pulling cells and checking for others) to open up the brood nest.

    Second: Similar config (2 deeps) only one fully draw out but the colony appears to have swarmed in the last couple days, population is not as strong as it was and there are definately 2 supercedure cells.
    tecumseh> the information below says emergency cells and the above says superscedure cells although you first suggest the colony swarmed (and therefore these would be swarm cells). ps it really sounds more like emergency cells to me.

    In a scenario with a dwindling population and 2 SC's not a ton of capped brood and no eggs/larvae will the queen that hatches tend to kill the second one and actually stay with the colony after she mates or is she likely to swarm?
    tecumseh> no eggs or larvae would suggest to me emergency cell. it is difficult to say which of the two cells will survive to be able to rule the hive. by your description the cells sound more like emergency cells (no eggs or larvae) so I would suspect the survivor will stay with this old hive.

    I guess what I am trying to better understand is the after swarm scenarios that cause after swarms instead of the new queen sticking with the colony?
    tecumseh> like in most things no simple (single variable) 'this' leads automatically to 'that; generally takes place. more often than not a number of requirements or clues are required. for example swarming is most likely to take place in year two, a crowded hive is required and generally a limited brood nest situation must be inplace for the a hive to swarm. quite typically you remove one or two 'requirements' and swarming is interrupted or at least delayed. on the other hand you can set a hive up in a particular manner, feed a bit to encourage backfilling and induce the swarming urge.
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