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  1. #1
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    Dec 2012
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    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    Default Queen cells 3 weeks after package install

    I seem to have developed my first serious beekeeping problem.

    This package appeared to be doing well for the first couple of weeks, and in fact, there were eggs just 4 days after the install.

    A week ago all seemed well. Today there were capped queen cells on both sides of a couple frames. I doubt that they are thinking of swarming-- there really don't seem to be enough bees. Maybe I squashed the queen the last time I was in the hive. I didn't see anything but a fringe of capped brood on some of the comb.

    I'd like to preserve the genetics of this hive, as these were small cells bees from Wolf Creek. I'm wondering if there's any way I can take a couple frames of bees from my boomer hive, and a frame with queen cells from the package hive, and put them in a nuc with a frame of honey, and double my chances of getting a queen successfully mated.

    I'll be grateful for any advice.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Evansville, IN
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    2,568

    Default Re: Queen cells 3 weeks after package install

    That will work just fine. Also put a frame of capped brood and the bees on it into the package hive to replace the frame you take out. DO NOT shake the bees off the frame with the queen cells, you will damage the queens!

    With a bit of luck you will have a two new hives and the bees in the package will stop trying to supersede the queen when new bees start to emerge.

    Peter

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    Default Re: Queen cells 3 weeks after package install

    Do what Fred said.

    Crazy Roland

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: Queen cells 3 weeks after package install

    Sounds like you are getting some good advice Ray IF the eggs you saw initially were fertile eggs and not the result of a laying worker and a resulting futile attempt to raise a queen from infertile eggs. Is there, in fact, some normal, smooth looking worker brood in the hive?
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  5. #5
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    Dec 2012
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    Default Re: Queen cells 3 weeks after package install

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    Sounds like you are getting some good advice Ray IF the eggs you saw initially were fertile eggs and not the result of a laying worker and a resulting futile attempt to raise a queen from infertile eggs. Is there, in fact, some normal, smooth looking worker brood in the hive?
    Yes, there's some remaining worker capped brood. A week ago, there was quite a bit of worker brood. I haven't seen any drone brood yet in this hive. The package was installed April 10, according to my log, so I guess it's actually 4 weeks old.

    I'd been hoping that this hive was about to take off, because workers were starting to emerge, and the hive population seemed to be up some from what it was the first three weeks. The last several days I saw bees orienting in front of the hive. That's why I think it must be my fault, and that I must have injured the queen the last time I was in the hive. It's a little strange, because this is a long hive, so I was able to move back the divider, and give myself plenty of space to move the frames apart before lifting them, to avoid rolling the queen.

    Ah well. I'm a beginner, so I have to expect I'll make a lot of mistakes. I'll just have to learn from the experience.

    Thanks, everyone, for the advice. I'm reassured that I may be able to salvage something.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Nashville, TN
    Posts
    320

    Default Re: Queen cells 3 weeks after package install

    It is very common for package bees to supersede their queen in the first month--it seems that often they just don't like her or she didn't get well mated, particularly common this year with all the inclement mating weather in the South. So you might not have done anything wrong--just bees knowing what is best for the hive. Don't worry, chances are very good you'll come out ok.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
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    5,587

    Default Re: Queen cells 3 weeks after package install

    Quote Originally Posted by thenance007 View Post
    It is very common for package bees to supersede their queen in the first month--it seems that often they just don't like her or she didn't get well mated, particularly common this year with all the inclement mating weather in the South. So you might not have done anything wrong--just bees knowing what is best for the hive. Don't worry, chances are very good you'll come out ok.
    Yep, very common. I call it the 3 week supercedure syndrome. The colony has reached an imbalance in nurse bee population. By 3 weeks in, all the bees are old and there are no new bees hatching. A frame of emerging brood at 10 days-2 weeks would have corrected the imbalance.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
    Posts
    4,317

    Default Re: Queen cells 3 weeks after package install

    I purchased packages with clipped and marked queens to eliminate any guesswork.

    They're resistant/chem free bees, so I felt that I would order replacement queens from the original source as needed. I wanted two hives with known genetics and a 'name brand' breed of bees.

    With the early spring last year, and a resulting over abundance of bees, I ended up losing the name brand queens somewhere along the line since they weren't marked. They were VSH queens.

    So, perhaps you can order up a marked/clipped queen to make life easier and be certain that you have the genetics that you want to work with.

    By the way, one of the marked queens wasn't accepted since another unmarked queen was present in the package. She was never released from the cage. But, I'll replace the unmarked queen soon enough with a marked one.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,624

    Default Re: Queen cells 3 weeks after package install

    Ray: This is one of the great frustrations I had as well when we used to run some packages. The bees just sense something is amiss and decide to requeen, and yes a frame of emerging brood if it was available most likely would have greatly reduced the odds of this happening. It's almost certainly nothing you have done wrong just an example of how "stuff" can happen.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: Queen cells 3 weeks after package install

    Here's a picture of one of the frames with queen cells-- one is visible down in the lower right. This brood mostly emerged between last week and yesterday.

    queencell.jpg

    When I hived this package, I put a frame with a small just-built comb from the first hive in it, just to try to keep them in the hive, and 4 days after the install, there were eggs and they were building comb well. I had hopes that they would not supercede the queen ( from a lack of brood pheromones) because she started laying so soon-- I directly released the queen, since it appeared to me the package had been in transit for several days. A fair amount of dead bees were on the floor of the package-- maybe a layer a half inch thick.

    Last week there were several frames full of capped brood, so that's why I think it was operator error.

    I'm going to take everyone's advice and try to split the frames with queen cells between two hives, with capped brood and nurse bees from my strong hive.

    Thanks much, guys.

    .

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: Queen cells 3 weeks after package install

    Okay, here's what I did. If I did anything stupid, please let me know!

    I took a frame of partially capped honey from the big hive, added a frame with several capped queen cells from the package hive, then a frame of capped brood from the big hive, plus an empty frame to give them something to do while they're waiting for their new queen. I'm going to see if they'll take syrup, though the flow still seems to be pretty strong. I probably have mostly nurse bees in the new nuc, right?

    In the apparently queenless package hive, I made sure there was a frame with capped queen cells still there, and added a frame of capped brood from the big hive.

    The only thing I'm still worrying about is whether or not I might have taken the queen from the big hive, since I'm not that good at spotting her. But I looked at both sides of the brood comb I moved several times, and I guess if I screwed up... hey, brood break!

    Oh well. I have to go out of town next week, and might be gone for a month, so I really hope I've done the right thing.

  12. #12
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    Dec 2012
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    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: Queen cells 3 weeks after package install

    I went through the boomer again today, and evidently I didn't take the queen to the split I made from my package hive. I saw her, and lots of uncapped brood. I think the boomer might be out of danger of swarming now, though there are still a few queen cups here and there. None have larvae in them, and I think (or hope) that taking the two frames of capped brood and nurse bees from this hive may have helped in that regard.

    Here's the queen, sort of wandering around by herself:

    yellowqueenmay142013.jpg

    You can see one of the queen cups. I sometimes wonder how the queens view the queen cups... is it like walking past a cemetery for them?

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