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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Appleton, WI USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Oh, my! 3 week old TBH with 9 capped Queen cells!

    Hello, all! New to posting but I've been lurking for quite a while. There is so much experience and wisdom on this forum that I'm hoping for some advice for an unexpected development in one of my new TBH's.

    On April 30, I installed two 2 pound packages (that was all I could get locally) into two empty TBH's. Today I did an inspection and found NINE capped queen cells in Hive 1. The queen cells are in various places on the face of the comb. There is quite a bit of capped worker brood, about 2-3 dozen capped drone brood, and the rest is backfilled with pollen, nectar, and the syrup I've been feeding. No eggs or larvae that I can see.

    I'm not good at finding the queen yet, but at my last inspection about 10 days ago I noticed a queen cup on the edge of one comb but didn't give it much thought, since the package was just installed and they had plenty of space (7 empty bars, comb on 6 more). I did split the brood nest with a single empty top bar, just in case. That empty bar has been drawn out about 50% in that time and there are no eggs or larvae in it.

    So I figure they are either:
    1. Preparing to swarm (I didn't think a new package with lots of space would do that?)
    2. Superceding the queen (do they normally build so many cells to supercede?), or
    3. Emergency replacing the queen (not sure how she would have been lost, and again do they normally build so many?)

    Please advise!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Spanish Fork, UT, USA
    Posts
    378

    Default Re: Oh, my! 3 week old TBH with 9 capped Queen cells!

    It is common to see lots of queen cells in one hive. From what you have described, I would guess the queen died and the hive is trying to replace her.

    A few years ago I did have a friend that had one of his package hives swarm at about four weeks. The hive didn't get their second box soon enough and had run out of room.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Portland, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    241

    Default Re: Oh, my! 3 week old TBH with 9 capped Queen cells!

    If your numbers are good, sounds like a good opportunity to split & form a 3rd hive. Just a thought.
    Beeman
    All things may be lawful; but not all things are advantagous.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Appleton, WI USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Oh, my! 3 week old TBH with 9 capped Queen cells!

    Thanks, Jon. They definitely have enough space - I've been monitoring that pretty closely and adding bars to stay ahead of them.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Appleton, WI USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Oh, my! 3 week old TBH with 9 capped Queen cells!

    A third hive would be cool, but I barely got approval from my husband to do two! That, and I'm not sure I could pound together another hive that quickly - my carpentry skills are, uh, "in their infancy." My dad worked with me to build these two, but unfortunately, he is not local.

    If I choose to leave it at 2 hives, do I just do nothing at this point and see what happens?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Madisonville,TN
    Posts
    196

    Default Re: Oh, my! 3 week old TBH with 9 capped Queen cells!

    Sounds like they are trying to replace a lost or failing queen. I would just let them be, they know what to do, better than we do. If they are strong enough to have nine queen cells, I bet they will be just fine. Watch and see.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Montgomery Twp, PA
    Posts
    160

    Default Re: Oh, my! 3 week old TBH with 9 capped Queen cells!

    We had the exact same thing happpen. I went in on Monday (seven days after I saw 8 capped queen cells) and saw a new queen who appeared to be mated, but still had a few capped queen cells. I peaked out the window this morning and saw a bit of bearding. *face palm* I have no clue what is going on.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Appleton, WI USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Oh, my! 3 week old TBH with 9 capped Queen cells!

    chr157y, I'm sorry to hear you are in the same situation as I am. Keep me posted if you don't mind, as your hive seems to be about a week ahead of where mine is.

    That said, I'm leaning toward requeening, per a discussion with a beekeeper friend of mine. A local apiary has queens in stock. With respect to leaving well enough alone, my friend was concerned about mating quality as well as the fact that Wisconsin has a very short, intense summer flow, and waiting for the new queen to emerge, mate, and start laying may put the hive too far behind to build up for our long winter. (Last year our temps fell below 70 just after Labor Day, and we didn't see 70 again until the very end of April!)

    The plan is to make a nuc with several of the best looking queen cells as an "insurance policy," cut out the remaining cells, and requeen this weekend. Thoughts or concerns on that approach?

    I've been a beekeeper for 3 weeks. It is a little surreal to me to be doing these kinds of manipulations so soon! Learn by do, I guess...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gainesboro, Tennessee, USA.
    Posts
    398

    Default Re: Oh, my! 3 week old TBH with 9 capped Queen cells!

    If these are a package It more than likely is a supersedure. Out of my last 20 packages 14 of them had cells within 2 months.

    Most commercial queens are pathetic. The bees know this and make one of higher quality as long as there is enough drones to get the job done. Whatever reason (I think a poor queen with a lack of pheromone)she needed replacing. As you have described they have room and are not a long established hive.

    I would let the bees do their thing. Splitting a hive that small is probably not the best idea.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Appleton, WI USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Oh, my! 3 week old TBH with 9 capped Queen cells!

    Well, it has been 3 weeks. The queen cells hatched and/or were destroyed, but no sign of a queen. I've been inspecting weekly, and today I found some evidence of a laying worker on one comb. 1-2 eggs per cell, off center in most cases, and a few very small, newly hatched larvae. To top things off, my other hive is requeening now, but they only have one queen cell and it has been capped for over 7 days. What now?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,096

    Default Re: Oh, my! 3 week old TBH with 9 capped Queen cells!

    > 1-2 eggs per cell, off center in most cases, and a few very small, newly hatched larvae.

    You may have a newly mated queen, who is still figuring out how to lay properly. I would wait a few days till those cells get capped to see if those larva turn out to drones or workers.
    Sometimes a queen, when she starts laying after a time of not laying, will lay a few double eggs but she usually stops after a day or two. The laying workers will lay three or four to a cell in almost every cell.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslayingworkers.htm
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Appleton, WI USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Oh, my! 3 week old TBH with 9 capped Queen cells!

    Well, another week later. There is now a fair bit of capped brood on multiple combs - all drone. I'm so frustrated. My other hive is not queenright either, but they may or may not have a virgin queen running around right now (they are building comb and foraging like crazy, but no eggs or brood), so I'm not sure if I can requeen them and then combine the two hives...

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