How long to wait for virgin queen from swam cells
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Indianapolis, IN
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    Default How long to wait for virgin queen from swam cells

    Hi, I'm a 2nd year bee keeper with 2 2-brood box hives. One died in the winter so I was down to one hive.

    I noticed capped swarm cells on May 21st. That day I added an extra brood box and split them on May 22nd. I had put about 5 queen cells in each hive with capped brood. I now have 2 2-deep hives, Hive One with a honey super. They both appear pretty strong, and all queen cells are gone. I have not seen any new brood since may 22nd. Most frames have drawn comb and are primarily filled with honey.

    I'm a bit worried I don't have a queen in either hive... Either the queen cells were duds, they haven't mated, or she's there but doesn't have any where to lay because of the honey. I'm assuming the original queen swarmed and left. I suck at finding queens.

    There's a local beekeeper meeting tomorrow and I could probably snag a couple queens, but am I at the point where I need to do that or should I wait another week?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: How long to wait for virgin queen from swam cells

    She may not have started laying yet. Before you risk installing another queen and losing her (possibly both queens) I would suggest you test them with a frame of open brood to see if they will start cells or not. That will define whether they have a queen. I would wait another week before doing that though. I have a hard time finding the first laid eggs till I start to see larvae with royal jelly in the cells, then I know where to look for eggs. Best not to disturb a new queen till they are laying full bore and the bees are happy.
    Frank

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Salt Lake City, UT
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    Default Re: How long to wait for virgin queen from swam cells

    A queen cell is capped 8 days +/- 1 day after the egg is laid. It should hatch another 8 days later +/- 1 day. It should be laying by day 12 after hatching, +/- 5 days.

    See bee math on Michael Bush's site http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmath.htm

    ------------------

    If you had swarm cells it may be that your hive swarmed anyways. A split does not automatically head off a swarm. It could have swarmed before or even after the split. In either case, if it swarmed then the old queen left with the swarm.
    Zone 6B

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    Kirksville, Missouri USA
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    Default Re: How long to wait for virgin queen from swam cells

    Once a queen cell is capped, it emerges in 8-9 days. Mating and laying eggs can occur as early as a week, to a couple weeks after that. You're getting a bit long, but a queen could be laying the next time you inspect. Maybe you missed eggs when you last looked. Also look for cleaned out areas of cells that are done right before the new queen would start laying.

    When you split, the original queen could have still been there and swarmed after the split. You still had queen cells in both splits so they should work out. Eggs by the weekend, I would predict. One other thought is if you were opening the hives often to check on them, that can disrupt the new queen or even have it turn up missing.

  6. #5
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    Jun 2016
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    Indianapolis, IN
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    Default Re: How long to wait for virgin queen from swam cells

    Hey thanks for everyone's help. I was able to check today. Hive 2 has nice capped brood and eggs. However, Hive 1 (the original) has a bunch of drone brood. I'm guessing I'm having my first case of a laying worker. Hive 2 is pretty weak so I'm thinking that joining them back together (with newspaper) is the way to go and go back to 1 Hive. I think my only other option is requeening Hive 1. Thoughts?

    One other variable is that I saw a few capped swarm cells in Hive 1. Is there any way a queen could be in those given that there hasn't been any brood?

  7. #6
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    Default Re: How long to wait for virgin queen from swam cells

    If hive 1 is laying worker, DON"T combine it with hive 2. The laying workers will most likely take over, kill the queen, and you would have a laying worker hive left. If you re queen a laying worker hive, it would get killed. A laying worker hive thinks it's queen right and reject any introduction of queen. The only solution I know of is that you add a frame of eggs/larva every week for three weeks and they may end the laying worker and start a queen cell. You don't have the resources and that takes a lot of time. The laying worker hive would be dwindled way down by the time new brood would be emerging. That could be 7 weeks from the time you start adding eggs/larva. If you know for certain it's laying worker and the two hives are close to each other, you can move the laying worker hive 100 ft. or more away and the foragers from that one would find their way into the good hive. Do a lot of search on laying worker hive and the risks of combining them with another hive.

    A laying worker hive would have spotty drone brood even in worker cells and multiple eggs in cells. Only drone brood, but only one egg per cell centered on the back wall could be a drone laying queen. A drone laying queen could merely be eliminated, then the hive could be combined.

    Queen cells in the hive could be just drone larva in an attempt to raise a queen, which wouldn't work. There's a chance that the hive did swarm again, but it doesn't seem like it with timeline, unless I don't understand right. After a swarm, drones are the last to emerge. They are probably the empty cells from the original split. Swarm cells can be emerged and the door that was made flaps shut, looking like a capped cell but it's empty. At least I have seen that with cells.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Indianapolis, IN
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    Default Re: How long to wait for virgin queen from swam cells

    Thanks for the tips. Sounds like you saved me from disaster. I'll look more I to laying workers. I think you have the right understanding and the spotty drone cells appear to show a laying worker.

    (I'll keep researching but...) I think I'll try moving hive 1 away and hope the workers find their way to hive 2. Since hive 2 is weaker and the drawn comb is about 70% I'll probably move some of the better frames to hive 2.

    Meanwhile I assume I keep an eye on hive 1, but it sounds like they're more or less doomed by the queenzilla worker.

  9. #8
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    Jun 2016
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    Indianapolis, IN
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    Default Re: How long to wait for virgin queen from swam cells

    In order to round out and put a bow on this thread in case others have the same issue here's what I did. I've done a bad job taking notes, but here's what I did without date stamps.

    I dismantled Hive 1 and shook the bees out about 200' away from the Hive 2. I reassembled and set Hive 1 about 300' away from Hive 2. In hindsight I wish I would have just shook the bees out right next to Hive 2, but I learned the hard way with the extra step.

    Regardless, it didn't matter - when I came back to Hive 2 a few days later is was stronger than ever! All of the fighters ended up being welcomed to the new hive as a displaced neighbor refugee!

    Hive 1 continued to dwindle. Yes, it had laying workers (I learned that it's plural!). After about a month, hive 1 finally had it's end of the male egg laying madness and the last man stole the hive leaving nothing to procreate. I stupidly left the honey super on that hive and have gross dead drones on my white honey super foundations.

    Now I'm back to 1 hive (Hive 2 is now Hive 1) and it looks plenty strong for the winter. Thanks for the advice.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: How long to wait for virgin queen from swam cells

    Shaking out a laying worker hive right next to a good hive can result in the laying worker bees overpowering the good hive and turning it into a laying worker hive. You did right shaking it out at a distance, but you should have then just put the #1 hive in the garage so they have no where to go. Loosing some of the bees that don't know where to go is a small price to prevent laying workers from taking over another hive. I did one lately and the remaining bees clung to a nearby tractor scoop for over a week. I eventually scooped them up and shook them near a queenright hive for them to find.

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