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Discussion Starter #1
2 capped queen cells & drone laying existing queen.what to do to insure a good queen

I need some insight, and I'll have to make a decision by the end of today, Sunday, 3/9. Back in mid Feb, in the cold snowy winter weather, my top bar hive decided to make queen cells for a superseedure. One queen hatched probably mid to 3rd week in Feb. Other 2 queen cells got capped Mar 2. On Mar 2, I also marked the only queen I could find, and I was pretty sure she wasn't my original queen. But at the time, there were still eggs and mixed brood so I decided to wait it out. Looking in the hive yesterday, only capped worker brood and more drone brood than I normally see. No new eggs to speak of. Bees even built more comb that is all drone brood. So I'm pretty sure the queen I marked, was the newly hatched one that didn't mate well and my old queen is gone.

So, I have these 2 queen cells that will hatch in the next couple of days. Weather looks good/ok for the next 10 days. A day here and there with rain, but not too cold. One or both of these queens has a good chance of getting mated (saw drones Feb 24), but since I have no more eggs and it's too early to get a queen from somewhere else, I need to insure both queens have a chance to mate and don't get dispatched by her sister.

I don't have a lot of bars of worker brood. Maybe 4 total with other bars of pollen/honey. I really think I want to separate one of the queen cells to my display hive or nuc, but I don't know that I have enough worker bees to keep everyone warm at night.

So I know I plan to cage the existing queen. But would you cage one of the queen cells and let her hatch out in the cage and then move her with a small group of bees to a nuc? Or move her now so they accept her better? I've heard of a queen cell with just 2 cups of bees can be a nuc, but I've never done one that small.

Suggestions?....
 

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Re: 2 capped queen cells & drone laying existing queen.what to do to insure a good qu

I know this is not what you want to hear, but I would just leave them alone and let them work it out. I have learned to go by the adage of " when in doubt, don't " if they are intent on replacing the queen, they will kill her. You have not described your hive, I suspect it is a very strong one, if so make sure they have room to expand. Good luck
 

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Re: 2 capped queen cells & drone laying existing queen.what to do to insure a good qu

Pulling all those drones could just be spring buildup. I have a very viable queen down here, laying a solid worker pattern, but when I gave them an empty frame they pulled it almost entirely for drone brood. Sounds like you may be seeing the same. Not necessarily a drone laying queen, especially not of you have a few bars of worker brood. It's likely she isn't a strong queen, which may be why you see the supersedure cell(s). Or is it swarm cells? In my experience, supersedure is one cell in the middle of a frame. Swarm cells pull randomly, usually in the edges of frames but not always. You as the beekeeper need to decide what type of cells they really are. If they are swarm cells, split out the editing queen to a small nuc to make them feel like they've swarmed. The remaining hive will assume the same, let the new queens hatch and work it out. This way you have some insurance too. If the new queens fail to mate you can always combine back with the existing queen.

Good luck!
 

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Re: 2 capped queen cells & drone laying existing queen.what to do to insure a good qu

It takes bees to make bees as you're finding out. I wouldn't risk an early split and jeopardize both new queens. I'd pinch the old queen and let the two cells sort it out.
 

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Re: 2 capped queen cells & drone laying existing queen.what to do to insure a good qu

I am a day late in making a decision. I had planned to put one of the queen cells in a mini mating nuc to hatch out, but when I opened the hive this afternoon, I discovered the workers had chewed open the 2 queen cells and killed the larvae. I have removed the remaining queen, that I'm pretty sure is my February hatchling, and will see if there is anything left in the hive to make an emergency queen. (have also contacted my bee mentor to see if he will let me put 2 drawn combs in one of his hives to get some eggs).
 

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Re: 2 capped queen cells & drone laying existing queen.what to do to insure a good qu

Sounds like the queencells were duds, could've been drones which is why the bees tore them down if they didn't hatch.
 

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Re: 2 capped queen cells & drone laying existing queen.what to do to insure a good qu

I wish that were the case, but I saw one of the queen larvae was still in the cell and moving. But she was still white so there was no way I could have saved her. She needed another 2-3 days to mature. For whatever reason, the bees decided to go with the drone-laying queen that was in the hive, although the bees don't seem to treat her with the same "respect" as they did the other queen. She's very "runny" and doesn't lay but one or two eggs.

I was able to contact a supplier in California, where I had an order in for 2 queens for spring, and they shipped them last night. Unfortunately, they did not travel well in the plane and were DOA. They are shipping more tonight, so hopefully I will have better luck tomorrow when they arrive. If these don't work, my bee mentor said I could put a couple combs in his hives to get some eggs.
 

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Re: 2 capped queen cells & drone laying existing queen.what to do to insure a good qu

Bees will build queen cells with drone larvae in them if there are no worker larvae available. If you have a drone laying queen and queen cells, this is most likely the case.
 
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