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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2 weeks ago I installed 2 packages, giving the girls a mix of comb & new frames.

1 week ago I checked the queens, and in one package I found the caged queen had been ignored (now dead) BUT I found a "bonus" queen that had been slipped in w the loose bees. She had a red AND yellow marking. I forgot my glasses & couldn't see any eggs, but there was the possible/maybe beginning of a queen cell. I let the queen cell be.

Checked today and I found 1/2 of one side of a frame to have capped brood and some larvae. Fast, I know. No other eggs (had my glasses) or larvae in the colony. The brood included 2 queen cells and a bunch of drone cells. My red & yellow queen was away from the brood frame & not looking too large. The marker paint was also flaking.

Finally my question. Given the situation and that I'm probably dealing with an old queen, what to do?

One option is to move some eggs from another colony that can be promoted to queen cells.

I am in touch w the supplier.
 

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If there is a loose queen, the caged one tends to be neglected or killed. I would bet that you will get a laying queen just as fast out of those supercedure cells as you will get a new queen introduced and laying. Just Kill the old queen before introducing any replacement shipped to you and count 16 days from first sighting of a cell to ten to fourteen more days for your home made queen to be laying.
 

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Sometimes because bees get messed around during shipping etc, the queen substance and other things are not right initially & they build queen cells.

As you have assumed, in this case you are likely dealing with an old queen included in the pack in error. What did the supplier say?

As they are trying to supersede, my first choice would have been to let them because they will not kill the old queen till the new one is laying eggs, it's the surest way to get a young, well raised queen into your package, supersedure queens are almost always well fed as larvae.

Just one thing to be careful of. For this, you WILL need your glasses. It is just possible the queen is a drone layer, which kind of fit's with your description of scattered brood just one side etc. If so, the bees will raise queen cells but they will not be viable & the hive will need to be requeened. The situation comes about occasionally when beekeepers find a hive that has only drone brood & shake the whole thing and may miss the queen, yes, crap can happen.

So have another look, wear your glasses and determine whether the brood is drone or worker. Take pics for evidence. If the queen is a drone layer you are due a free replacement queen and the vendor will be fine with that. Just, vendors do get told all kinds of stories by ignorant customers who got their facts wrong, so do email him the pics as documentation, show them here first if you need confirmation. If they send you a new queen talk here first soon as they have agreed to send it you may need to do a few things to the hive first so the bees will safely accept your new queen.
 

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If you get a replacement queen from the package seller, I'd take 2 frames of bees and start a nuc with the old queen. I'd probably take one frame of bees from each hive so you don't pull too many from one package.

I sure wish I had been aggressive splitting last year when I got started. I was too scared I'd mess up to do anything like that. Now I know I'm gonna mess up fairly often so I might as well get more bees out of the deal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
If there is a loose queen, the caged one tends to be neglected or killed. I would bet that you will get a laying queen just as fast out of those supercedure cells as you will get a new queen introduced and laying. Just Kill the old queen before introducing any replacement shipped to you and count 16 days from first sighting of a cell to ten to fourteen more days for your home made queen to be laying.
Thank you Vance. You are probably right on the supercedure; I'll check in again in a couple days keeping fingers crossed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Sometimes because bees get messed around during shipping etc, the queen substance and other things are not right initially & they build queen cells.

As you have assumed, in this case you are likely dealing with an old queen included in the pack in error. What did the supplier say?

As they are trying to supersede, my first choice would have been to let them because they will not kill the old queen till the new one is laying eggs, it's the surest way to get a young, well raised queen into your package, supersedure queens are almost always well fed as larvae.

Just one thing to be careful of. For this, you WILL need your glasses. It is just possible the queen is a drone layer, which kind of fit's with your description of scattered brood just one side etc. If so, the bees will raise queen cells but they will not be viable & the hive will need to be requeened. The situation comes about occasionally when beekeepers find a hive that has only drone brood & shake the whole thing and may miss the queen, yes, crap can happen.

So have another look, wear your glasses and determine whether the brood is drone or worker. Take pics for evidence. If the queen is a drone layer you are due a free replacement queen and the vendor will be fine with that. Just, vendors do get told all kinds of stories by ignorant customers who got their facts wrong, so do email him the pics as documentation, show them here first if you need confirmation. If they send you a new queen talk here first soon as they have agreed to send it you may need to do a few things to the hive first so the bees will safely accept your new queen.
Thank you v much Oldtimer - this is the kind of advice I was looking for. I wasn't clear in my earlier post that the brood was a mix of worker & drone SIZED cells - its just that the drone cells were patchy within the pattern. I'll check a capped worker and a capped drone for viability in a couple days. What I really appreciate in your post was the feedback to wait on killing the old queen.

I'll take pictures when I go in next.

THe supplier is a good guy - the middleman who brings up packages from Georgia. His advice last week was to wait and see, but he's out doing pollination work right now. I trust him - heck I've worked for him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If you get a replacement queen from the package seller, I'd take 2 frames of bees and start a nuc with the old queen. I'd probably take one frame of bees from each hive so you don't pull too many from one package.

I sure wish I had been aggressive splitting last year when I got started. I was too scared I'd mess up to do anything like that. Now I know I'm gonna mess up fairly often so I might as well get more bees out of the deal.

Thank you Brad - my problem is that this old queen really seems spent, given the little brood she's produced. I have other colonies, and in fact have taken brood from one of my honey colonies & given it to the other package. I've already done splits so I hesitate to take more brood from those colonies. 2 other packages I installed for a local Inn 9 days earlier (an earlier shipment) have already got several frames of brood. Amazing what can happen in a week.

I could push my rights to get a replacement queen, but I kind of like this "emergency supercedure" as a learning experience. Last year the supplier stepped up w new queens when the only real problem was that the caged queens were virginal compounded w a cold spell. We'll see what happens; after nectar flow I intend to do some requeening, so maybe I'll ask for the queen then.
 
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