After the swarm leaves ... ?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
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    East TX
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    Exclamation After the swarm leaves ... ?

    I have a hive that I'm fairly certain is left after it swarmed (I caught the swarm, it's in another hive).

    Today I opened the [old] hive and found multiple queen cells, maybe more than a dozen, I quit counting. There is little brood, some drawn comb (empty), and some capped honey in the brood section. Brood section is two medium boxes. There's also a medium super on (I harvested honey from it last weekend). The swarm left 20 days ago, so the new queen may not have emerged yet(?) I didn't see a queen, but my inspection was quick. The bees got very agitated as I inspected the frames, I was basically under attack. I also moved the frames from the old hive boxes to new ones in the process.

    Anyway, my question is, how likely is it that a hive which is left after a swarm 20 days earlier would not have a queen yet? I'm not clear on how a new queen is hatched. Do the workers convert an existing cell with egg into a queen cell when they need a queen, or is the queen cell made before the egg is laid? IOW, can the workers decide they want a queen, and then get one, after the old queen has left? Or is it a decision that must be made before the queen leaves?

    - djb
    The best things in life aren't things.
    2 hives, started 2018

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Location
    East TX
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    Default Re: After the swarm leaves ... ?

    This page is quite helpful. Apparently two to four weeks after a swarm leaves a hive, a new queen should be laying. It's been three...

    I didn't know what all to look for as far as stages of queen cell development, I just saw the cells. :/ Still learning what to look for when inspecting a hive. I guess I'll wait a couple weeks and inspect again, and hopefully see a lot more brood.

    - djb
    The best things in life aren't things.
    2 hives, started 2018

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    3,712

    Default Re: After the swarm leaves ... ?

    If you are sure it was that hive that swarmed and it was 20 days ago, something is not right if no cells have emerged. Typically the new queen will have emerged about 9-10 days after the swarm and by day 24 you should be seeing eggs. By this time one cell should be opened with a round hole and all the others should be getting torn down. Did you have any real cold nights in the past three weeks? At this point, wait another week. You may have missed seeing the properly emerged from queen cell. You can also take one or two of the capped cells and cut them open to see if the larvae are viable. There are other situations that could explain what you are seeing.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
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    2,361

    Default Re: After the swarm leaves ... ?

    JW is right. My guess is you caught an after swarm and missed at least another. The only way (at least to my math) that time line works is if a queen left with queen cells well on their way.
    Last edited by Saltybee; 04-28-2019 at 08:53 AM.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Location
    East TX
    Posts
    66

    Default Re: After the swarm leaves ... ?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    If you are sure it was that hive that swarmed and it was 20 days ago, something is not right if no cells have emerged. Typically the new queen will have emerged about 9-10 days after the swarm and by day 24 you should be seeing eggs. By this time one cell should be opened with a round hole and all the others should be getting torn down. Did you have any real cold nights in the past three weeks? At this point, wait another week. You may have missed seeing the properly emerged from queen cell. You can also take one or two of the capped cells and cut them open to see if the larvae are viable. There are other situations that could explain what you are seeing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Saltybee View Post
    JW is right. My guess is you caught an after swarm and missed at least another. The only way (at least to my math) that time line works is if a queen left with queen cells well on there way.

    The swarm I caught which I'm pretty sure came from this hive is a good sized swarm. It apparently outgrew an 8-frame deep as brood box already. Yesterday morning I placed a medium super on it and the hive entrance quickly got a lot less congested. I suspected it was getting full when bees started hanging out around the entrance (this is what I saw on the old hive before the swarm showed up in a tree close by). But I may not have good idea of what constitutes a "full" hive yet. What appears to me to be a packed hive may be normal. Anyway, I wouldn't think two swarms could have emerged from the original hive and still be as many bees as I saw in it yesterday. The super on top was not that busy, but the two mediums below were fairly busy, although they were not what I would call "full" either...

    But...I'm a novice, so what do I know?

    It has not been cold here, highs in the 70s lows in the 50s.

    I'll give them a week or maybe two, they were quite disturbed with me moving all the frames to new boxes. They prolly need a break. Then I'll check for queen cells again (and have a better idea now what to look for), and will hopefully find them calmed down with a new queen.

    - djb
    The best things in life aren't things.
    2 hives, started 2018

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