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Two days ago I pulled a good-looking uncapped swarm cell from one of my best honey hives and put in a nuc box with the idea of raising up a queen from this cell. This hive has been booming all spring...would like more queens like this. Added some honey, pollen, and frame capped brood -- all with clinging nurse bees, which I oh-so-carefully checked to make sure queen wasn't on..... Today I opened nuc to add better frame of pollen and found fresh eggs in the nuc.

I think I must have pulled the queen from my best hive, which I was attempting to manage for honey production. :-(

Is there a way to correct my screw up? I very much wanted to keep the big hive producing honey as our flow is just starting. Plus, we are having stormy weather, so it could be Sunday (2 more days) before I can open any hives. Argh. Any advice on how to get the royal back to her big hive (if that will be possible after 4 days)? Any better suggestions?

Feeling foolish...


4th year; 8 hives, Blue Ridge Mountains, NC
 

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If your flow is just starting, and you did indeed get the queen, then you have done what amounts to a cutdown split. Theory is, it will increase your honey production for that colony, which is now queenless and will be done raising brood in another week, everything capped. While they are busy raising a new queen, they will pack on extra honey because the workers have no brood to tend.

I plan to do this intentionally to all of my producing colonies at the onset of our blackberry bloom in June.
 

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They will produce a good honey crop once the brood is capped, so be prepared. Locust and clover just started blooming. Looks to be another great season here in the ohio valley.

When I make splits I prefer to pull out the queen into a small nuc. If the hive is really strong make multiple nucs once the queen cells are capped. You want maximum bees to produce good well fed queens. A frame of brood and frame of nectat/pollen is enough early in the season during the flow.
 

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I agree, I started doing cut down splits in mid April, and the honey crop is looking good. What you did might have been an accident, but it wasn't a screw up.
 

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i did the exact some thing about two weeks ago. I found one big nice queen cell I put the frame with the cell on in in a nuc and added another frame of bees and checked really well for the queen. went back a few days later and found new eggs and the queen cell was tore down from the side. I knew the ole queen was in the nuc. It took me awhile to find her in that nuc she is a dark colored queen. When I found her i marked her. I planning on using that queen to raise some queens off of anyway. It wasnt what i exactly had planned, but I just left her in the nuc, And started grafting off of her. and used the hive i took her from to build the cells.
 

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As long as you do it now, you can put that queen back in the other hive, just find her, and put the comb she is on bees and all into the other hive, you could take a different comb with bees to put back into the nuc.

I commonly remove queens from hives and put them back a few days later with no issues, as part of my queen cell raising procedures.
 

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Two days ago I pulled a good-looking uncapped swarm cell from one of my best honey hives
And there were no other cells? Just saying that is not typical. If a booming hive got to the point of swarm cells I write it off as a production hive because it is on a mission and start doing my willy nilly splits. Now if it was a supercedure, I grin and bear it.
 

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I see that some folks in this thread intentionally let the hive go queenless and that once all remaining brood is capped, they get good honey production. Doesn't the hive need some open brood to prevent a laying worker situation from developing? How long do you go with no queen and no open brood/eggs in your main hive?
 

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Doesn't the hive need some open brood to prevent a laying worker situation from developing?
Yes if it doesn't have a queen cell. I let a queenless hive go a month or two and if it doesn't requeen itself in that amount of time I dump the hive and take the honey.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
And there were no other cells? Just saying that is not typical. If a booming hive got to the point of swarm cells I write it off as a production hive because it is on a mission and start doing my willy nilly splits. Now if it was a supercedure, I grin and bear it.
Acebird: This was a frame of brood I had pulled to a super to stretch out the brood nest and give some more space. I think it was so far up in the hive that they thought they didn't have a queen. There were several on that frame and I cut out all but two and those went in the nuc. They were torn down when I discovered the eggs in the nuc (first post). So I'm trying out using this experience as a 'cut-down' to see how it goes. Ended up using the old queen and her nuc to re-queen another hive (after a few days over a double screen bottom board). So we'll see.

So you are saying that if you find uncapped swarm cells you go ahead and split? I'm trying to learn the point that it's possible to discourage them from swarming, vs the no turning back start splitting point.

Thanks everyone for the help!! It is such a relief to be able to share the puzzlers I encounter most every week with ya'll! :)
 

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I see that some folks in this thread intentionally let the hive go queenless and that once all remaining brood is capped, they get good honey production. Doesn't the hive need some open brood to prevent a laying worker situation from developing? How long do you go with no queen and no open brood/eggs in your main hive?
I think most folks leave most of the eggs/larvae/brood in the original hive when they intentionally move the existing queen just before or early in the flow. Its a great way to get the original hive to make some nice queen cells and still get a good honey crop and increase hive numbers. You can go back in and pull some capped queen cells in 9 or 10 days to make up some smaller splits. Just make sure you leave a couple cells for the original hive to requeen themselves.

I started doing this a couple years ago when I realized that the Purvis queen I had was doing great but Mr. Purvis was moving away and his queens would no longer be available to the public. I wanted to make sure I got some daughter queens out of her, but at the same time as a small-timer didn't want to lose the honey crop either. I've now done it the last two springs and its worked perfectly for me. I can still get honey, I get the bees to make some nice queens for me to have increase, and if I screw it up I've still got the original queen in reserve.
 

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It takes more than a month for workers to start laying eggs. When there is no brood left and bees lost any "hope" of raising a queen than a group of workers will start laying eggs. Even then the hive can be saved though.
This can be avoided if towards the end of honey flow the queen is reintroduced back to the hive, the queen will reorganize the hive and bees will move the honey in the supers which is a bit more efficient cause the honey will be packed in less combs.
 

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Really helpful thread. Good mentors, all of you. I have another question: I've heard it said that emergency queens are not as high quality as those produced intentionally while still queenright, i.e. the queen cell was prepared in advance, etc. It sounds like what Coach B and Oldtimer (sorry don't know your names) do is producing emergency queens. Just wondering; maybe the colony that gets the emergency queen supercedes before too long.
 

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>I've heard it said that emergency queens are not as high quality as those produced intentionally while still queenright, i.e. the queen cell was prepared in advance, etc

That is one view usually based on the theory they choose too old of a larvae. Here is another:

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesbetterqueens.htm#Queens Reared by the Emergency Method
"It has often been observed that many of the queens reared by this method are not the best. It has been stated by a number of beekeepers who should know better (including myself) that the bees are in such a hurry to rear a queen that they choose larvae too old for best results. Later observation has shown the fallacy of this statement and has convinced me that bees do the very best that can be done under existing circumstances."--Jay Smith, Better Queens

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmillermethod.htm#donotpreferoldlarvae
"As a matter of fact bees do not use such poor judgment as to select larvae too old when larvae sufficiently young are present, as I have proven by direct experiment and many observations."--C.C. Miller, Fifty Years Among the Bees

In my experience a well fed hive with a high density of bees can raise a very good emergency queen. A poorly fed one with a low density of bees cannot.
 

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Really helpful thread. Good mentors, all of you. I have another question: I've heard it said that emergency queens are not as high quality as those produced intentionally while still queenright, i.e. the queen cell was prepared in advance, etc. It sounds like what Coach B and Oldtimer (sorry don't know your names) do is producing emergency queens. Just wondering; maybe the colony that gets the emergency queen supercedes before too long.
It's a survival thing first of all, when queen less bees will rush to raise a queen, to speed up the process they are most likely to choose older larva. The queen cells in these cases are smaller with thinner walls. The queen bees raised in these conditions tend to have a smaller number of ovaries and produce less eggs compared with queens raised by beekeeper, resulting from swarming or superseding.
These queens will save the colony but they don't build a colony as strong as the other kind of queens and some colonies will replace this "emergency queen" thru superseding in the next year if the colony manage to pass the winter.
The best queen bees are those resulting from superseding when bees take their time, provide plenty of royal jelly for the future queen. In this case queen cell is larger with thick walls which provide a more constant temperature.
 
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