Opened hive yesterday and found queen cells at different stages of development. Huh?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Cartersville, GA, USA
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    8

    Default Opened hive yesterday and found queen cells at different stages of development. Huh?

    I'm still somewhat of an inexperienced beekeeper. I have had 1 hive for the past 4-5 years. So yesterday we had a somewhat warm day here in Georgia and I needed to do some maintenance on my hive. I had an old brood box that had warped so badly it was causing the boxes above to lean, also it was causing a huge gap where the bees could get through (and air and rain).

    While transferring my frames into a new brood box I noticed there were 2-3 queen cells with larva and royal jelly uncapped near the bottom of the frame. I also noticed a fully capped queen cell on the face of a frame about a quarter way from the top. From my limited experience I think this queen will hatch soon as the tip of the cell was a lot lighter than the rest of it. I'm trying to figure out what is going on in my hive.

    Here's some history on my hive:

    Year before last it swarmed. Tried saving the swarm in a second hive but the little un-grates flew off.

    Last year no swarm. I added a 2nd brood box with empty wax foundation to the bottom of the hive near the end of spring flow (Too late I learned). I was hoping the girls would draw it out so I could replace the original brood comb that is 4-5 yrs old for this spring. When it came time to harvest the honey, between the weather and health I didn't get to it. My girls over wintered with 2 smack full medium honey supers.

    Right now… I have the few uncapped queens (i see the rice/maggot looking larva and in a bed of royal jelly) and a capped queen. I didn't see the the original queen yesterday or really any eggs. Maybe they were there and I didn't see them, but I looked. The bee population looked good for this time of year (we've also had a warmer than usual winter), there was capped worker brood and some (very little) capped drone brood. As for my hive set-up from the bottom up I have a deep box of un-drawn wax foundation, a deep box of old drawn comb, queen excluder, then 2 medium supers of almost full honey left over, and on top I added an empty medium super of undrawn plastic foundation.

    My inexperienced thoughts…. My queen is 2 spring seasons old so they may be replacing her???. But I don't understand the different stages of Queen cells, I thought they would all be at the same stage of development. I'm also thinking I need the empty honey super to keep the girls busy until it warms up enough to rob the filled supers. I'm also hoping they will draw out the new brood box.

    Am I on th right track with my thinking? And does anyone have any advice as to what is going on with my girls? Or what to do better?

    Thanks!!!
    Last edited by clarkestep; 02-20-2017 at 08:41 AM. Reason: Typos

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    5,453

    Default Re: Opened hive yesterday and found queen cells at different stages of development.

    Probably supercedure if you only found 3 cells, queen may be gone already as well, so not much you can do about it now. If you want to ease your mind about swarming, I'd check for the old queen one more time or at least eggs.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Hotlanta, GA
    Posts
    764

    Default Re: Opened hive yesterday and found queen cells at different stages of development.

    Yeah, I would make sure you definitely can't find any eggs. With the weather we've had, I wouldn't rule out that there aren't already swarms in Georgia, but does sound like supercedure.
    Ask two beekeepers, get three answers

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Southern Maryland
    Posts
    146

    Default Re: Opened hive yesterday and found queen cells at different stages of development.

    Take a look at this and decide whether you are at risk of swarming.

    si-x-leaf_anomaly_si-x-states.jpg

    tl;dr version: Georgia is like the rest of the American Southeast: way ahead in the Spring department. You could be as many as 20 days ahead. I'm sitting in the little dots in Maryland claiming to be ahead, and can confirm that I have new bees (not just brood) running around right now. That's not supposed to happen.

    It's been real mild this year. Gawd help us if we get a serious cold spell in March. I shiver at the thought.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Cartersville, GA, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Opened hive yesterday and found queen cells at different stages of development.

    I, too, am thinking it is a supercedure. Why I am concerned is the difference in the queen cells. I would think they would all be in a place to hatch about the same time, or do the girls stagger the virgin queens in order to have a better chance of one living? I know they will fight each other to the death and that the first one will kill the others that haven't hatched yet.

    I'm also wondering if I need to move my empty honey super under the filled boxes to encourage them to draw out the frames. Or if I should move my new empty brood box to the top of the old one to help encourage drawing out.

    Thanks again!

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    carney, maryland, USA
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    1,262

    Default Re: Opened hive yesterday and found queen cells at different stages of development.

    @Green Tractor: I'm up here north of Baltimore; opened my large 3 high 7-frame deeps to mark my queen. This is FULL of bees, like you would want your hive to look in mid-April. I'm quite concerned that this one will swarm prematurely. Many frames of open and capped brood, with many bees emerging. Have not seen any drones yet. Maples are in bloom; pussy willow about to bloom in the next week or so.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Southern Maryland
    Posts
    146

    Default Re: Opened hive yesterday and found queen cells at different stages of development.

    Quote Originally Posted by philip.devos View Post
    @Green Tractor: I'm up here north of Baltimore; opened my large 3 high 7-frame deeps to mark my queen. This is FULL of bees, like you would want your hive to look in mid-April. I'm quite concerned that this one will swarm prematurely. Many frames of open and capped brood, with many bees emerging. Have not seen any drones yet. Maples are in bloom; pussy willow about to bloom in the next week or so.
    Yup. I started feeding in mid-January and reversing in late January. I dropped a super on most hives last week to (hopefully) get new foundation drawn out. I fully expect to be doing pre-swarm splits in March on most of them. I had one beard up a few days ago, but they hurried back in once it got chilly. I still have lots of brood chamber space and empty drawn deep comb in top boxes, but they've already filled the bottoms and are laying in the tops now. For now, I don't have any buds anywhere. We're a little behind inland areas because we are near the bay.

    My concern is an early flow that stays short.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    2,545

    Default Re: Opened hive yesterday and found queen cells at different stages of development.

    How's the population?

    If it is strong, they had just begun building swarm cells (bottom of the comb -all built within a day or two) when the may have queen died, so they built either an emergency cell or a supercedure cell if she's still alive (up in the face of the comb, made several days apart) or two.

    If the population is low, and she's alive they're supercedure cells.

    If she died, they are emergency cells.

    In any case, do not destroy them. Let the re-queening process go on as nature intended.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Southern Maryland
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    146

    Default Re: Opened hive yesterday and found queen cells at different stages of development.

    Quote Originally Posted by kilocharlie View Post
    How's the population?

    If it is strong, they had just begun building swarm cells (bottom of the comb -all built within a day or two) when the may have queen died, so they built either an emergency cell or a supercedure cell if she's still alive (up in the face of the comb, made several days apart) or two.

    If the population is low, and she's alive they're supercedure cells.

    If she died, they are emergency cells.

    In any case, do not destroy them. Let the re-queening process go on as nature intended.
    OP's concern might not make as much sense to someone not in our area. If he is short a queen he needs to go get a new mated queen if he has any hope of pulling honey this year. This is a local issue - our flow historically is 15 April through May. A little before or after, but don't count on it.

    That means the egg for a forager must be laid by March 6th to be ready for the Maryland tax-day flow. Sure, later foragers will still collect but this year seems to be moving fast. Right now the Park Service is saying we are at least 20 days ahead of our average (they publish stats to time the Cherry Blossoms).

    OP - it's been four days. Go look for eggs. If you got eggs, you got a queen. If not, you might want to do some bee math and start looking for a local seller of a mated queen.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Kirksville, Missouri USA
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    1,753

    Default Re: Opened hive yesterday and found queen cells at different stages of development.

    The queen cells in different stages is normal. They will start cells with new larva and then more after eggs hatch for a few days. I always see different cell capping days whether emergency or swarm. The light colored cap on the queen cell is fresh wax. I would guess you have a swarm going or gone and you missed seeing some of the cells. Bees can easily bury them. You can tell emergency cells from the rest by how they are not built out from the comb face as much. If there are capped cells you may have missed the swarm unless it's supercedure.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    2,545

    Default Re: Opened hive yesterday and found queen cells at different stages of development.

    Quote Originally Posted by Green Tractor View Post
    OP's concern might not make as much sense to someone not in our area. If he is short a queen he needs to go get a new mated queen if he has any hope of pulling honey this year. This is a local issue - our flow historically is 15 April through May. A little before or after, but don't count on it.

    That means the egg for a forager must be laid by March 6th to be ready for the Maryland tax-day flow. Sure, later foragers will still collect but this year seems to be moving fast. Right now the Park Service is saying we are at least 20 days ahead of our average (they publish stats to time the Cherry Blossoms).

    OP - it's been four days. Go look for eggs. If you got eggs, you got a queen. If not, you might want to do some bee math and start looking for a local seller of a mated queen.
    Nice over-ride, buddy! Right on. (I need a smiley emoticon bowing and tipping his top hat!)

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