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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A very interesting day today here in the hudson valley, NY. But I am very confused.

While at work on Thursday (2 days ago) my son called to say a hive was swarming but then when rain came, they retreated back into the hive. Yesterday was raining and windy and they did not swarm. Today is breezy but clear and I knew what was coming.

(FYI this hive had, unfortunately swarmed 10 days ago while I was away for work. My wife saw it leave and there was nothing she could do. None of our local beeks could make the trip to get it. I had decided not to go in and thin the queen cells because I had had an experience last year when I did that and no queen resulted. Anyway I digress.)

I inspected early today at 8:30 AM and for the first time as a beek I heard a piping queen on a frame. This queen would have been no more than 10 days old and as young as 5. I assume she would be mated but I am not sure. I did not see eggs but I was trying to move fast so I did not look carefully.

Becuse I had her in my sights I captured her in a queen cage. I found 4 large fully capped queen cells, and 8 or so partially formed cells. I split the hive keeping 3 of the cells, and destroying the rest. I moved this split hive to another location in the apiary thinking the older flying bees would return to the original site with the captured queen.


I thought I would have stopped the swarm from occuring but I was wrong.

At about 10:30 the hive with the captured queen swarmed! It was a small swarm but it alighted on a branch. I assumed when they found out there was no queen with them they would return but after an hour they were still there. To me this made no sense.

Figuring I would lose them if I was not careful (and given my other previous swarm losses) I hived them by shaking them from the high branch into a large tupperware box and then next into a hive. I had already installed two frames of brood in many stages, pollen and honey in this hive, which I had pulled from a different hive. I closed up this swarm hive. At 5 PM they appear to still be in it.

So I have a split with 3 capped queen cells. A swarm caught hive and the original hive with a captured piping queen.

Does the swarm from the original hive with the captured queen make sense?
Does piping tell us anything about the age of the queen? For example, do I know if she is mated?
Could there have been two queens in the hive pre-today's-swarm?

Do I need that third queen cell? (I might use it to build a resource hive if not.)

Thanks, in advance, for any thoughts you might have on this odd (at least to me) situation.

Ben
 

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If a swarm emerges from a hive and settles nearby, then discover they do not have a queen, they normally figure it out and return to the parent hive in around 1/2 an hour. If they were still there in an hour, they almost certainly had a queen.

Since bees do not understand artificial things like queen cages, if there was a loose virgin in the hive, and a caged virgin, far as the bees were concerned they had 2 virgins so were able to send out a swarm.

Re the third queen cell, sorry, I do not understand from your post which of the hives it is that has the third cell.
 

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Does piping tell us anything about the age of the queen? For example, do I know if she is mated?
As far as I know, piping only occurs with virgin queens. I have witnessed or heard virgins piping in my own mating nucs, but I have never heard a mated queen pipe. I have also read several times here on Beesource where others have said the same regarding their own experience.
 

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You may have had 2 virgin queens in the hive at the time. Sometimes cells that a queen emerged from can look capped yet. The queen exits by opening up most of the cap and it hinges like a door. When it emerges, the door shuts back up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks all. This makes a lot of sense.

This same hive swarmed again briefly yesterday and then went back into the hive. They ahve been quiet today. Maybe the queen has mated. I will check over the weekend for signs of eggs.
 

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A swarm 2 days ago and a possible practice swarm today would suggest that emerging virgin queens are going with after swarms. I wouldn't think there are any mated queens yet. A virgin queen at best, and pretty rare, will take a week to mate and start laying. It more likely will take 2-3 weeks, maybe more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
A swarm 2 days ago and a possible practice swarm today would suggest that emerging virgin queens are going with after swarms. I wouldn't think there are any mated queens yet. A virgin queen at best, and pretty rare, will take a week to mate and start laying. It more likely will take 2-3 weeks, maybe more.

Thanks Danial.

Crazy thing, the split in which I had left a few queen cells swarmed today too. I heard about it after the fact from a neighbor. It kills me. I lost a large swarm initially, then I split the hive and added a brood super and interspersed the frams with some drawn comb and some new foundation (it also has a honey super that had room left in it). Then both sides of the split have swarmed. so, this is the third swarm from this hive. I am out of ideas about how to control it.
 

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If you ever have a colony swarm, it could be 6-10 days from the first emerging virgin queens. At that point there could be several virgin queens in the colony planning to after swarm again. Soon after the first swarm is when the extra cells need to be dealt with. Maybe your splits had virgins already running in them that were set on going before the splits. That would be a tough one to deal with. Virgin queens are harder to find. If the splits are too small you can combine them after all the dust settles.
 
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