Queenless hive with supersedure cells - best approach at this point?
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  1. #1
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    Default Queenless hive with supersedure cells - best approach at this point?

    I am pretty sure one of my hives is queenless, the bees are buzzing and acting erratically. There is very little brood, and several supersedure cells. I am not able to find the queen (but I often have trouble doing so).

    I have made the opening smaller, have only a deep super, and am continuing to feed. Should I let nature take its course and have them produce a new queen? If there are already supersedure cells, if a queen is able to be born and mate, will this "just work"?

    Many thanks!

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  3. #2
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    Default

    I am interested to see what you get for advise.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Queenless hive with supersedure cells - best approach at this point?

    Are there still eggs and/or just hatched larva?

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Queenless hive with supersedure cells - best approach at this point?

    If you have eggs, you have a queen.

    If there are larvae in the queencells then you have a chance. They need to survive to emerge, then survive mating. I would use a push-in cage so the first to hatch does not kill her sisters. That way you can have several virgins in case the first virgin meets an ill fate while mating.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Queenless hive with supersedure cells - best approach at this point?

    If there are supersedure cells. then just let nature take it's coarse. Even if there is a queen in the hive they have decided to supersede her for one reason or another. Believe it or not the bees quite often know what they are doing.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Queenless hive with supersedure cells - best approach at this point?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andhors View Post
    If you have eggs, you have a queen.

    If there are larvae in the queencells then you have a chance. They need to survive to emerge, then survive mating. I would use a push-in cage so the first to hatch does not kill her sisters. That way you can have several virgins in case the first virgin meets an ill fate while mating.
    A supersedure cell is built around an existing larva. there is always one in them. if there is no larva, it is nothing more than a practice cell.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Queenless hive with supersedure cells - best approach at this point?

    If I saw supercedure cells in one of my hives I'd just leave it alone.

    I have a follow up question.

    I checked on a hive today and found it to be eggless and broodless. This is the 2nd colony I've found like this. I tried adding a frame of eggs to the earlier colony, and the bees just fed the brood and developed them into capped workers, never made a queen.

    Does that sound like a supercedure? Truth is, I didn't do a particularly thorough inspection of either eggless/broodless hive and could have easily missed 1 frame with some supercedure cells.

    Anyone here have any other information on how to recognize a supercedure in action? What's the difference between a queenless colony, and one that is in the process of superceding?

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Queenless hive with supersedure cells - best approach at this point?

    bees will often attempt to make a queen supercedure cell with an egg from a laying worker. Not sure how long yours has been queenless, but these queen cells usually end up very long and don't make a queen. If there are not a lot of young nurse bees, they usually can't make a well fed queen cell either, even if you give them open brood from another hive (if they have been queenless a long time). For problematic hives like this, I will add a frame of ready to emerge brood and introduce a mated queen from another hive (and let that one requeen since it has all the resources)

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Queenless hive with supersedure cells - best approach at this point?

    Bees supersede a queen when they perceive something is not right with it. It could be failing, an odd hick up in the balance of bees in the colony can cause one, or a certain disturbance can. They build supercedure cells and the queen lays in it. They don't build around an existing egg/new larva. That would be an emergency cell. A supercedure is a planned event by the colony. The cell can be capped and emerge while the old queen is still laying. The old queen can also swarm away with a small amount of bees, or eventually be killed by the colony. A supercedure could possibly happen with very little evidence or loss of brood.

    You are new to the forum and it makes me think you are starting out with a package this spring. If so, I have never had a package of bees, but I read often that they may supercede the queen after a month. One assumption I have frequently read is that the bee age balance is way off so the queen is replaced.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Queenless hive with supersedure cells - best approach at this point?

    If it's a small hive, like a single deep, they also could have swarmed. Small spaces are swarm machines especially when fed well. A small colony also may not build a lot of swarm cells. Before a swarm, the queen could reduce laying and the emerged bee empty cells back filled with nectar or sugar syrup. That could explain little brood.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Queenless hive with supersedure cells - best approach at this point?

    Thanks all, I'll leave the supersedure cells be and see what happens, if things naturally right themselves. I'll be able to get into the hive this weekend to take a closer look. I don't think space was an issue and they swarmed, the start was a robust 5 frame nuc and it was suggested to put both deep supers on from the start. My other hive in the same configuration is doing very well. I'll report back!

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Queenless hive with supersedure cells - best approach at this point?

    Great idea. Never thought of that.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Queenless hive with supersedure cells - best approach at this point?

    OP here, I wanted to check back in to say how things went. I was sure all was lost and then.. magically I started to see larvae and capped brood. Things have really taken off since then, new queen is going strong. Hoping the hive can catch up for lost time.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Queenless hive with supersedure cells - best approach at this point?

    It's always nice and fun to see the new brood after a re queening episode.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Queenless hive with supersedure cells - best approach at this point?

    Quote Originally Posted by DanielD View Post
    It's always nice and fun to see the new brood after a re queening episode.
    Always good when a thread ends well.

    Keep your nuc small and tight. No need for any extra space.
    Expansion season has passed, protection season is here. There is a reason a nuc box has a short narrow slit for an opening and not much room.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Queenless hive with supersedure cells - best approach at this point?

    Maybe it might help if you clarify the hive size.

    Then we can get a better idea how well its already doing with other factors.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Queenless hive with supersedure cells - best approach at this point?

    Quote Originally Posted by tbreslow View Post
    OP here, I wanted to check back in to say how things went. I was sure all was lost and then.. magically I started to see larvae and capped brood. Things have really taken off since then, new queen is going strong. Hoping the hive can catch up for lost time.
    Just thinking, If you have any flow or are feeding them yet, you could make them swarm again. Watch to see that they have expansion room. I don't feed if there's a flow and they have a could combs of extra stores. You need to control feeding so that they don't have too much extra packed into the combs and reduce the queen's laying room. It swarms when the queen is restricted from laying.

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