which swarm cells to destroy?
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  1. #1
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    Default which swarm cells to destroy?

    In a hive with several swarm queen cells of different ages (from one sealed queen cell to a cup with an egg in it) which two queen cells should be kept? Older or younger? Two of about the same age or of different ages?

    Is it a good idea to leave the sealed one and the cup with an egg in it, that is, the oldest and the youngest, aged about a week apart?

    Thanks, h.

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  3. #2
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    Due to a stark learning opportunity (mistake) I happened upon many years ago, I, since that time, do not destroy queen cells. The bees have worked this all out a million years before man walked the earth and to sit back and watch the wonder unfold is marvelous to experience. I have over the years learned to trust my bees which has caused my anxiety to be reduced and my enjoyment to increase, but then again, I just love bees. 😊

  4. #3
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    Default Re: which swarm cells to destroy?

    I agree with Mike. I just leave them and wait / watch. The only time I've ever yanked cells was when I had multiple queen cells in a hive where the colony had begun swarm preps and it sat beside a colony that was recently queenless. In that case, I borrowed a couple of queen cells and pinned them into the queenless colony. I had a wonderful swarm and a queenright hive a short time later.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  5. #4
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    Default Re: which swarm cells to destroy?

    Hmm... My question was about the details of swarm prevention and what I get is something like "let them swarm". And from a forum moderator, too.

    This is something to keep in mind:

    Swarms are a dramatic sight, and a completely natural occurrence for the bees, but swarms are not good news for you. A colony that swarms is far less likely to collect a surplus of honey. That means no honey harvest for you that year. A colony that loses 50 percent of its population and 50 percent of its honey also will have a difficult time regaining its population and productivity. It also means the bees may have a tougher time making it through the cold winter months (assuming you have such weather).

  6. #5
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    Well, neither of us told you to let your hive swarm. A lesson on how to ask a question that makes sense and thoroughly communicates what you're trying to ask may be in order. None of us can read minds. You asked which cells to destroy.......the answer none. Destroying one or all of them will not prevent swarming. There simply isn't enough information in your post to have a clear idea of what you are actually asking. Try again please.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: which swarm cells to destroy?

    Boy am I confused! I thought the question was which cell should you keep. The answer was both of them. The question would indicate that you were already resigned to letting the hive swarm. If you want to prevent the swarm, the quickest way is to pull the queen and a frame or two of brood and move them into nuc or empty hive. Put the new hive where the original one was and move the old hive across the yard. This is a flyback split or artificial swarm and should take care of the swarming instinct for this year.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: which swarm cells to destroy?

    JWPalmer, yes, I did split the hive. But -- the old hive has several, I believe eight, queen cells ranging in age from just a cup with an egg through a sealed queen cell.

    My question was which of the eight should I keep and which should be removed?

  9. #8
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    Default Re: which swarm cells to destroy?

    assuming that you are performing artificial swarm, i would leave one big non-sealed cell after making sure that there is larvae.
    because if the colony is large enough and too congested , leaving more than one queen cell may trigger secondary swarm.
    also, leaving queen cells of the same age and letting the queens "fight it out", may leave the "killer queen" damaged.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: which swarm cells to destroy?

    When I did the same thing, I had 5 frames with Qc's on them. One frame stayed in the hive, four frames went into different nucs, and I gave two capped cells away to a friend. Eight cells sounds like four new nucs to me! Weaken the hive enough and I doubt they will swarm, even with the old queen still in the hive.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: which swarm cells to destroy?

    Quote Originally Posted by dvorai View Post
    ...
    because if the colony is large enough and too congested , leaving more than one queen cell may trigger secondary swarm.
    also, leaving queen cells of the same age and letting the queens "fight it out", may leave the "killer queen" damaged.
    Thanks! Will leave just one open cell to avoid "secondary" swarm.

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    ...
    Eight cells sounds like four new nucs to me! Weaken the hive enough and I doubt they will swarm, even with the old queen still in the hive.
    Thanks! I don't have space for more hives, so will play it safe and remove all the QCs except for the largest open one.

  12. #11
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    If the queen is still there remove her and create a small Nuc. Tear down all but the youngest cell unless you can use some in other hives. Come back in 7 days and make sure the one cell is capped. If capped look for new cells they might have made and tear them down or they might still swarm. The key is make sure there is one cell and no other means to make another queen

  13. #12
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    Default Re: which swarm cells to destroy?

    Quote Originally Posted by gtwarren1966 View Post
    If the queen is still there remove her and create a small Nuc. Tear down all but the youngest cell unless you can use some in other hives. Come back in 7 days and make sure the one cell is capped. If capped look for new cells they might have made and tear them down or they might still swarm. The key is make sure there is one cell and no other means to make another queen
    Appreciate the response! Yes, the queen and fresh eggs were still in the hive, so I put her in a new small nuc with some sealed brood and resources. Yes, will tear down all the swarm cells except for the youngest and will watch for new cells.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: which swarm cells to destroy?

    Why would you tear down the older cells? They are swarm cells, the eggs were laid in cups and have been manged by the bees as queen cells from the start.
    Why would you bet a whole hive on a single cell ? What if it is a dud? standard advice is leave 2 or 3
    both moves seem like a poor plan to me
    Last edited by msl; 05-12-2018 at 05:11 PM.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: which swarm cells to destroy?

    Talk about coincidences. I went out to my production hive to see how they were doing on the two supers I gave them. Swarm cells everywhere, all capped. No eggs or young larvae, and of course, no queen. Backfilled broodnest. Little wenches swarmed on me. Ah, but they left a parting gift in the form of really nice swarm cells on multiple frames. Made two nucs with the extra cells and left about four in the hive. Moved over to my recently hived overwintered nuc. Found out it is true that a box of foundation and a queen excluder between the brood box and the super, can get you some real good looking supecedure cells in the super if eggs were present before the qe was added. Or maybe they are emergency cells. Only the bees know for sure. Put those two frames in a queen castle along with a full frame of capped brood each. So four splits today and I was only planning on one. That is how I handled the same problem you were facing.

    I still need to make the split I was planning on. Did a walk away last week and got 5 qc's from it. Need to harvest two of them.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: which swarm cells to destroy?

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    Why would you tear down the older cells? They are swarm cells, the eggs were laid in cups and have been manged by the bees as queen cells from the start.
    Why would you bet a whole hive on a single cell ? What if it is a dud? standard advice is leave 2 or 3
    both moves seem like a poor plan to me
    Good question! If leaving two or three swarm cells in a large and congested hive increases the chance of a secondary swarm then I'd only leave one.

    If leaving two or three, which ones would you leave, Msl? The ones that are close to each other in terms of age? Or far apart? Which happens to be my original question.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: which swarm cells to destroy?

    Baybee, leave the ones that are closest together in age. If you leave the oldest in there, she will simply destroy the other cells.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: which swarm cells to destroy?

    I have heard, not experianced, that when leaving cells, to leave cells that are on combs that make them with in site of each other. My jump in reasoning is that the first one hatched does not have to search the hive to kill the other cell and so there is less chance to have a secondary swarm. Take it for what it is worth, just an ideal I have heard.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  19. #18
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    Default Re: which swarm cells to destroy?

    I have never realy given it much though, I just leave a few on one comb or combs right next to each outhere

    There could be an argument for leaving a age spread, allowing her to "simply destroy" the other cells as JW put it.
    While this the reverence of his advice there are people who feel having cells close in age could lead to 2 emerged virgins fighting and the winner having some damage. As apposed to the 1st one to hatch killing the others with out resistance while they are still in the cells

  20. #19
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    Default Re: which swarm cells to destroy?

    Appreciate the responses! I ended up removing all the queen cells and cups with eggs (about fifteen overall) except for two sealed cells facing each other on adjacent frames.

    Planned to leave only one but because for some reason all the swarm cells looked kind of small, decided to leave two a couple of days apart in age.

    I'm curious to see what happens to this hive. When I was splitting it last Friday, I found the queen, fresh eggs, many swarm cells including one sealed. Were they about to swarm? Or the hive wanted to supercede failing old queen? Will know more when inspect the nuc with the old queen.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: which swarm cells to destroy?

    with 15 overall queen cells, those were not supercedure cells. They were swarm cells. Glad you were able to keep the mated queen

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