Supersedure Cells Found
New beekeeper here. My goals for this year are 1) learn about bees and beekeeping 2) getting two hives through the winter. Making honey is way down on the priority list.
I started with two nucs at the end of May. I'm managing one as a single deep based on the advice of the nuc supplier I have been working with. The other hive I had two deeps on. Both of the hives are packed and filled with brood/stores so swarm control is my watchout. I've had supers on for a few weeks, but they have not drawn any comb in them yet.
I wanted to get the double deep down to a single. Since it had over ten frames of brood and plenty of stores I decided make a double nuc ala Mike Palmer. I bought two queens and placed two frames of brood, one frame of honey and one partially drawn frame in each one along with the queens. That was last Wednesday. On Sunday, day four, I found eggs in both nucs and foraging flights have started. Good news on the nucs at least. Not out of the woods yet, but promising beginning.
The donor hive had over six frames of brood and was filled with stores, and overflowing with bees after the split. I found the queen in there when I made the split, but it seemed unusual that she was not moving around at all. When I looked in that hive this morning, day 4 after split, I found it still full of brood and stores, overflowing with bees, but no eggs and several frames had supersedure cells. Most of the cells were capped, one was open and was full of royal jelly with the larva. It appears my instinct was correct that there was something wrong with the queen, since they must have started building those cells before the split. I probably injured her the weekend before during my inspection. Shame that, she was an awesome producer. Clumsiness is still something I am struggling with.
I knew enough not to destroy the cells. I figured in for a dime, in for a dollar, so I pulled a frame with two cells and another frame of stores and stuck them in a four frame nuc. I shook some bees from the other hive into it along with two frames of foundation and closed it up. I figured this gives two chances of getting a functioning queen. I'll open this nuc up in a day or two and hope any foragers reorient to it.
Now the question is how to proceed. I also would like some honest criticism on everything I have done.
My options at this point as I see them.
1) Let things go as they are. However, that means it will be at least the end of August before any new bees emerge from the queens now in the cells. I'm not sure if that is enough time for them to build up stores for the winter. Also, since I left at least three cells (I don't remember exactly how many), I have the chance of cast swarms.
2) Try to find a replacement queen. If I do this, how would I introduce her? Do I have to go back in and destroy all queen cells?
The good thing is that in our area we have strong end of summer/early fall flows of Goldenrod and Japanese Knotweed. The flows should start by mid August, goldenrod is just starting to flower now. That is why I thought the timing on the double nuc was perfect. As long as we don't have an early frost the bees should be able to build stores well into September.
Thanks for any advice, or criticism, you can give. I sincere about both, my priorities demand it.
Re: Supersedure Cells Found
After reading for hours on here, and talking with a local beek I have decided to leave everything alone as it is. Let them make their own queen, hopefully successfully, either in the main hive or in the split I made with a frame with cells.
Re: Supersedure Cells Found
Recap. On July 20 I found a bunch of capped swarm cells in one of my two hives, no sign of eggs. I took one frame with two cells, and another frame of stores. Placed these along with two frames of foundation in a four frame nuc.
July 25 checked nuc and found three cells (missed one initially), still capped but dark. This confirmed the cells were recently capped when I first found them with emergence exepected July 27 +/- 1 day.
Aug 1, today, checked nuc and found eggs and a nice pretty queen, kind of small, but still really pretty, especially watching her lay eggs.
I went back into the main hive and did a quick check of a few frames, did not find any eggs. Main purpose was to pull one of the frames of foundation I stuck in there when I pulled the frames for the nuc and replace it with a frame of eggs, larvae and capped brood pulled from my other main hive. I'll check sometime later next week to see if there are queen cells on that frame. If not, then I will look for eggs and assume there is a queen. If there are queen cells I will use the new queen from the nuc to make the main hive queenright, and pinch off the cells. Is this a correct strategy?
I have to say, it is exhilarating making my own queen, now that it looks like I was successful. But, this waiting and wondering while a strong healthy hive is fading really is stressful. Especially given the weather has been terrible this past week, I wasn't sure if mating would be successful. Next time I will buy a queen, or better yet have some queens ready to go in my own yard. I hope the main hive will have time to build up properly for fall, my waiting has cost the hive at least close to two weeks of no laying queen.
Oh yeah, My double nuc that I started two weeks ago is booming in both sides, both queens are laying beautiful patterns and foragers are dragging in pollen like crazy. I will be placing a four frame nuc on top of each half sometime in the next week so they can build up strong for winter.