so it turned out that several of the 'nice' cells i put into my mating nucs were 'fakes' made with a drone egg after all. lesson learned.
next year i'll take the time to hive tool notch below bona fide worker larvae.
Working to propagate my survivors and staying treatment free USDA Zone 7b
just a guess t, but the cells were formed in freshly drawn drone comb and they appeared to have been torn down instead of emerged from.
that, and no queens to be found but laying workers instead.
i simply culled the wrong cells. there were smaller angled emergency cells formed by the floating of worker larvae out of worker cells, but they weren't as pretty as the 'fakes' so i culled them.
i had a good return on the first couple of 'batches'. these were done prior the new drone comb appearing and i didn't have to cull any cells.
i gave up on notching after our experience with the lemonade hive last year because i had more cells made where i hadn't notched.
but i used the corner of the hive tool instead of the flat side and wasn't doing it right. after finally finding some photos i see what i need to do from now on.
These are what "planned emergency" queen cells look like in my topbar hive. I let them draw new comb and then pull the queen after a number of days. I had 12 on this bar alone. Made nice plump queen cells that I cut out and put in nucs. All emerged and I hope to peak at them on Saturday if it ever quits raining to see if I have eggs yet.
I did find a "surprise" on one bar. They took a drone cell and tried to turn it into a queen cell. I like to call these "drag queen". They usually get torn down before they emerge. A virgin had already emerged in the hive that this was in, so I just left it alone
those are really nice looking cells ruthie, perfectly fashioned out of that fresh new soft comb.
i'm liking the use of the five frame mediums and how the use of them fits in with checkerboarding and pushing the queen down below the excluder.
i'm going to build 10 more of them this winter.
i've been checking for a mated queen three weeks after making up the nucs and the queenright ones already need more space at that point.
so some of those got combined with another 5 frame medium that ended up without a queen, some were given an empty 5 frame deep nuc box underneath, and some were combined as is to requeen colonies that failed at supercedure.
one nuc that failed to get a queen simply got another frame with a cell on it to try again.
at any rate all that is done for this season putting me with all 24 of the production hives queenright and getting heavy with honey along with a handful of nucs on the side for 'spares'.
we'll be getting in the honey harvest mode here in the next couple of weeks or so.
squarepeg, have you tried 3 frame medium mating nucs?
Beek since 2016: Hardiness Zone 9a: in NW Florida
IF she comes back to the part with the old Queen they may or may not fight. If she can when young and spunky get to the old queen she usually kills her. If the top box where she hatches, has no entrance and she cannot get out she my just start laying drones, unfertilized eggs.
So several factors at play, can she find a way out and back? can she get to the other queen? each scenario has different results. Worst one I had the virgin was in the top , no upper entrance, the queens fought on the excluder, the old queen lost, the new queen could not get out to mate and went drone layer in the supers. So it was a mess. BYW the drones could not get out either. I now use an upper entrance for somewhat that reason. I have also had a small swarm move into the top part via the upper entrance. you will be surprised some day even if you think you have seen it all. Sorry,, to answer your question, Yes they could swarm.
My cell builder setup this year was a cloak board installation similar to that shown in the videos done by University of Guelph on youtube. I had a deep below the cloak board, with queen etc. Above the cloak board I have another deep. I did a graft on May 8 after prepping the builder. Builder prep involved going thru all 20 frames checking for cells, then shaking most of the nurse bees from the bottom box into the top box and inserting the slide. The intent for that one was to do splits on the May long weekend, so cells would be ready for placing in splits on May 18. I only did one bar, 15 cups. Slide came out the following morning, and then on the second day following I checked for acceptance. I had 13 out of 15 accepted, nice looking with jzbz cups pretty much filled to overflowing with jelly. I use deeps divided 4 ways for mating nucs, 5 half size frames in each compartment. I had 6 new queens in mating nucs from a previous graft, and wanting to expand mating nucs dramatically this year, so the original plan was strait forward. From a dozen full size colonies make up 6 strong splits by taking 2 frames of brood from each colony, the new ones would have 4 frames of capped brood each with a new queen out of the mating nucs, then split all the mating nucs and place cells. All of this was scheduled for Saturday the 18th expecting cells to emerge on the 20th.
Life got in the way. At 2am on the 17th, Gerry had a heart attack and in the morning was airlifted to a hospital in the big city for an urgent procedure. My wife drove down and we were expecting that I would be released from the hospital in a couple days, she would take me home again. Well there were complications and they kept me in the hospital, so I told her to go home on the 19th, we will worry about my transportation when they finally do release me. Morning of the 20th she texted asking if she should do something with the cell bar, I said 'just leave it, first out will kill the rest, let the bees sort it out, we have higher priority things to deal with right now'. About 2pm on the 20th she texted me a picture, cell builder was swarming. I got home on the 23rd in the evening. She went out on the 24th mid morning, retrieved the cell bar frame and brought it back to the house, brushing some bees off on the way. When she got to the house the bar of cells had 12 perfectly emerged and one that didn't emerge. We spotted 4 queens walking on that frame, which I promptly put in cages. Now wondering how many she brushed off on the way back to the house, she wasn't paying attention to see if they were queens. I'm restricted from lifting boxes for a couple months, so later in the afternoon my wife put a chair down beside the builder, she did all the lifting and I was looking at frames. Between us, we found a couple more queens that went into cages. No sign of the old queen in the bottom box but there were a bunch of swarm cells, so we removed the cloak board and split that colony 3 ways with cells. She then proceeded to split all of the mating nucs and we released those virgin queens each into a new mating nuc. FWIW, a week later all of them were laying.
So what did we learn from the event ? Well, everything we read and thought about cells emerging and virgins duking it out to the death was shown to happen differently. Those virgin queens did not fight it out to have one survivor. Reality is, at least 6 out of 12 were still in the colony 4 days after emerging. How many ended up brushed off the frame while my wife was walking back to the house, we will never know. I still have the cell bar, I should go take a picture of the cell bar with 12 emerged cells. Another interesting tidbit, when we were going thru the top box a friend had popped over to help sort out the bee yard since I cant do any lifting and we are in the heart of swarm season here. When we were caging those queens in the top box he commented on how he had never seen virgins so large before, was wondering if we actually had mated queens. Unlikely as they had only been out of the cell for 4 days, but who knows. What I do know, we really have to re-think a few things of what we understand to be 'cast in stone' as to bee behaviour.