NUC split question
Results 1 to 12 of 12
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Chicago, Illinois
    Posts
    7

    Default NUC split question

    Third year beekeeping, but first time making a nuc. Was trying to find the information I needed by scouring the internet, but I couldn't seem to find the answer.

    I had purchased a queen to add to a split for my NUC. She was quickly killed within a few days as they didn't accept her, so I am allowing them to raise their own queen. It's a 5 frame NUC so I added 4 frames: fresh eggs, larva, capped bees, and a full frame of honey. This left the last frame blank. I had noticed a day before the queen died it looked like they were already drawing emergency queen cells on the egg frame, but I ignored it not have ever seeing those cells before. When I pulled the dead queen out I added an additional frame of eggs(replacing the empty frame), so they would draw those into queen cups instead of the older frame of eggs.

    Now that you have the background, here lies my couple of questions. We inspected 5 days later and they had drawn emergency queen cups on the original frame of eggs(five of them). They were also starting to draw additional ones on the new frame of eggs added after. Since those eggs are staggered in laying times I assume the queens will hatch at different times. What will happen, and should I intervene in anyway? After reading about cast swarms, and anything else that can go wrong on larger hives I was concerned. That is the very basic question.

    Secondly, there are a lot of bees in the NUC most never drifted back even though it's sitting about 4 ft from the original hive. The bees in the nuc are back filling with nectar, as a lot have turned foragers. Since I don't have a blank will this be a concern as well? I am getting into the timeframe in the next couple of days for the queens to hatch, so I wanted to leave the box alone until after mating flights/laying. However, I'm not sure what good it will do if she mates and comes back to a box with nothing but filled nectar and bees. I assume there has to be a tiny bit of room every day as bees hatch, but just uncertain of what to do.

    Apologies for the lengthy post, and thanks for any help in advance.

  2. Remove Advertisements
    BeeSource.com
    Advertisements
     

  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Winona MN USA
    Posts
    252

    Default Re: NUC split question

    I'll take a stab at this since those that know a lot more than me are busy. To answerer your first question, the bees are hedging their bets on raising at least one queen. Hence the multiple cells. What you did not say was if there was eggs in those cells, but I am assuming there are. I am also assuming that the first 5 cells are capped. If that is the case you could tear down the others if you are comfortable enough that those first 5 cells are good. It is not unusual for the bees to tear them down after there is a queen that's been hatched. As to issue of back filling, I think you will be fine as long as you still have brood hatching. I would how ever put another box on top with foundation as soon as you can for them to start building comb for winter stores. It sounds like your nuc is plenty strong so you need to get your second supper going. this will provide the needed room for your bees. Another option would be to remove a frame of brood that is about to hatch or at the very least sealed from your other hive. Shake ALL the bees from it and replace it from one in your nuc that is honey bound. Again shaking all the bees from that one also. You will however have a backfilling problem if they don't have the room. I'm assuming you plan on wintering in a 5 over 5 for winter in your area. So my short answerer would be, yes, reduce your cells down to the one frame with 5 on it if they're sealed. Add a second deep with foundation on asap. As some one says here, " bees can fix most of my mistakes". Give them room and you'll be fine. There are other ways to deal with this, but this is what I would do if it was me. Doesn't make it right. It's just what I would do if it was me.
    GOOD LUCK!!!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Chicago, Illinois
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: NUC split question

    Thanks for getting back! The first frame was covered in eggs, so I assumed they capped over them. However, I went back the other day to see what was going on as I knew they were getting close to hatch (based on the 18 day calendar). However, when I looked at the frame that had the 5 queens cups- it now had zero. The frame that was added a couple of days later with eggs now had 3 queen cups. I looked for eggs thinking a queen had hatched, but didn't see any. There were only about two cells with pollen, but I just assumed it was for the bees that were getting ready to hatch. I wouldn't say they were bringing it in. Could this mean a queen might have been on her flights and hatched already? Or will honeybees ever destroy queen cups, and go with the younger eggs? Didn't think they would, but new to nucs and them raising their own queens.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Winona MN USA
    Posts
    252

    Default Re: NUC split question

    I think we need to be sure we are talking about the same thing. Bees build and tear down queen "cups" all the time. They don't however usually do it if there is a larva in it. They will however tear down queen "cells" when they sense a queens presence. The exception would be however in a swarm situation. It is my understanding that bees will not build queen "cells" in brood that is too old. So I don't think they tore them down because of that. So to be clear it is 7 to 8 day after cell is sealed for the queen to hatch, depending on when you start counting, so to speak. As to whether the queen is in there? If indeed you had queen cells and not just cups, and a queen hatch, the remaining could have been torn down. Virgin queens are usually smaller and be harder to spot. I'm not saying I'm right. I'm just saying, this is what I think, based on what I have done/seen.
    GOOD LUCK!!!

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Chicago, Illinois
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: NUC split question

    Ahh. That is my bad for the wrong terminology. I believe they are queen cells then. I took some photos, so I could learn from what I'm doing.

    http://i.imgur.com/LLodOFL.jpg

    That is what I saw the previous week. Those were completely gone when I opened it up yesterday, and I saw this one on the bottom as well as a few in the middle of the frame when I checked it last

    http://i.imgur.com/ibWATJK.jpg

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Forsyth, Missouri
    Posts
    663

    Default Re: NUC split question

    They are all caped Queen Cells not cups.
    Most likely you had one hatch on the first frame and killed the others, thus the bees tour them down.
    If you are having good weather give them at least 2 weeks and check again.
    It will take that long before you will see any eggs and if she gets started faster you may have caped brood.

    Don't be in a hurry as it takes time, and learn for next year.
    Zone 6b 1400'

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    York County, VA, USA
    Posts
    503

    Default Re: NUC split question

    Look for info and advice about after-swarms. I have little to offer except that my over-wintered hives seemed this spring to have swarmed more than once. I _believe_ at this point in my beekeeping education that the existence of queen cells of multiple ages can trigger the first emerging queen to swarm after taking out the ready-to-emerge contenders. The thought I have (unconfirmed) is that too-young competitors induce the emerging queen to behave like the swarm queen, and take off with an after-swarm. This can really decimate the population of a nuc and leave it non-viable. If your nuc has additional queen cells not torn down, you might consider moving some to another nuc with another frame of emerging brood if you have it available. If not, then you might find another beekeeper who will sell you a frame of such brood for a tolerable cost (two to three tens of $ around here)
    "I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong." (heard often from the late David Sebree) Still making them, myself

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Winona MN USA
    Posts
    252

    Default Re: NUC split question

    Yep! They're queen cells. I'm betting you have a queen somewhere. I would now be giving thought to adding your next supper on your nuc. It is harder to get them to draw comb as the year progresses. I would not feed them yet as a way to build comb. That will only add to your back filling issue. If it was me I would be wintering in a 5 over 5 hive in your area. They will however probably be slow to build, so be prepared for that. This why I am suggesting adding now. You don't have a shortage of bees, you have a shortage of comb. You will only have about 2 good brood cycles left this year, so I would be starting now to get the comb I would need. You could steal some from the other hives, but that leaves them short as well. If it was me I might even place the foundation in my strong hives to start building. This may not be right. But it is what I would do if it was me. But I digress. That was not your question. Sorry. Congrats on your new nuc.
    GOOD LUCK!!!

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Chicago, Illinois
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: NUC split question

    So would the ideal conditions be to add another box to the existing nuc in this situation? Then take out the other capped queen cells and mix with some more frames of brood in another? Or just let it all play out as it is? I was just afraid if the queen failed in the first batch I wouldn't have a queen if I removed the other cells. I'm reluctant to take any more from my other hives since we have had a 30 degree weather plummet this week. However, I don't want to see them swarm out either this late in the game. It is a 5 on 5 medium nuc, so I will take your advice BeeHaven and put another box on top for added space at the very least. Illinois is known for its weather mood swings, but there is still plenty of things in full bloom. Not to mention an acre of sunflowers were planted right next to them for the doves that just opened up.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Cullman, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    1,240

    Default Re: NUC split question

    A lot of what if's & rolling of the dice here.
    not all queen cells are what we expect. lots of times I cut open the "leftovers" and find them empty.
    Did you fins some cells with "the sides cut out"? the workers tend to clean house. Some times I remove the extra cells to make more mating units, but usually do this before the first ones emerge.
    Some times I get a "normal emergence" ( small round hole on the bottom) some times it just sits there, a "dud".
    Some times I get a mated queen back, some times she doesn't make it back.
    ( I had one little dear get confused by a screened bottom board, the bees built her some comb & she started a brood nest there....)
    At this point, I would do nothing until I had a laying queen.
    If you think there are too many bees in the nuc you could split it, but be sure the the outside of (the original nuc) looks the same. do it during the mating flight hours (4pm? look it up)
    & be sure to leave at least one or two good looking cells in each nuc. mark which frames they are on.
    monitor for the Qcells to emerge/"hatch", & the presence of eggs.
    If they do not emerge, continue to watch for the queen, maybe you just did not see her.
    If you do not have eggs after a couple of weeks, recombine ( by what ever method, I think I like the "shake in front" more & more.) into the nuc that was successful ( the bees are not still "freinds" at this point, they identify with their own box & will defend it). ( you have doubled your chances of a successful return, in exchange for the other risks you took.)
    But at this point( today), if the bees have removed some of the cells, the remainder are "probably" of no concern, & you have a strong nuc . good luck ... CE
    Started summer of 2013, just another new guy, tinkering with bees.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Winona MN USA
    Posts
    252

    Default Re: NUC split question

    There is a saying in investing that goes something like " Bears make money, Bulls make money, and Pigs get slaughtered. I'm Not saying you're getting piggish, I'm saying If it was me, I would let it play out. I would not take more resources from this or any hive at this time of year. I would build my nuc as strong and as big as I could get it, adding suppers as fast as they will build them out. If it was earlier in the year than yes I might do a small 2 deep frame split, but not now. I did a 2 deep frame split earlier this year just to see how it would work. I just place a supper on the now double deep hive as they were crowded.
    "All bee keeping is local" as they say. I have a son in that lives out side of Wasilla AK and we are usually colder than him, but less snow.
    I'm not saying I'm right. It is just what I would do if it was me.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Chicago, Illinois
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: NUC split question

    Basically just added a second box, and plan on letting it all play out. When I added the second box this morning I noticed they were tearing down the queen cells on the second frame, and the only one that was left was the one that you guys saw the picture of on the bottom of the frame. I'm just going to let it play out, and hope for the best. There were a lot of bees in there, but I couldn't identify if one was a virgin. I'll check to see if I see anything dragging pollen in from the outside every few days, and open it again in a couple of weeks. I appreciate all the help this far from everyone. Wanted to add nucs to my learning curve for beekeeping, but queen rearing wasn't intentional. It's all good info for next year when I wanted to try to do it with my swarms cells. I'll let everyone know what happens in the weeks to come.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •