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Hey guys !

This is my first time posting here but I've been reading a lot for this past year. I'm a novice top bar beekeeper from the South of France, and I'm having a little a trouble I hoped maybe you could help me out with : I'm not sure whether my colony is about to swarm or supersede (I know there are a few threads concerning this matter already but none of them seem to fit to what's going on in my hive...).

So here's the situation: last year I installed a tiny secondary swarm from a nearby beekeeper (so a virgin queen if I'm not mistaken) into my brand new Colorado top bar. they spent the rest of spring and summer foraging and expanding nicely, without any particular trouble.
Now this seasons, they have been expanding quite a lot : there were only four bars of brood at the end of the winter, and right now I'm at 10 bars of brood, 4 bars of food, and 3 empty bars (which is the size of the hive, there's no more follower!).

Problem is, when I went for a visit 2 days ago, I noticed a few queen cups, both on the sides and in the middle of the frames (although more on the sides). I figured they were trying to swarm, so I destroyed the cups as I clearly didn't want half of my precious bees to fly away... :no: But as I went back today, I saw about 60 brand new queen cups, once again both on the sides and the middle of the frames, some of them already with tiny eggs being fed royal jelly! :eek:
So before destroying the cups once again, I reconsidered: maybe they're not trying to swarm, but just to replace their queen? (since the "ball of bees" only takes up around 2/3 to 3/4 of the hive, there seems to be a fair amount of empty space left!). Nevertheless, the current queen should only be 1 year old, and seems to be laying quite nicely: there is a fair amount of brood and it looks as regular as it could be.
So, what would your bet be? Swarming or superseding?
Do you think I should split the hive ?

Don't hesitate to post your insight, I'm very eager to hear your opinions and I'm sure it will prove very helpful! Thanks in advance!
(And sorry for my English, as you may have guessed I'm more used to French!)
Clement.
 

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Looks like they are preparing to swarm. Do artificial shakeout swarm and split them if you have equipment. It is generally futile to stop them from swarming after they start the queen cells. By the way, honey band behind the shrinking brood chamber is one of the early indictor of swarm prep. you can disturb the honey band to slow down or stop swarming i.e. move the honey frames farthest away from brood nest and insert empty frames inside the brood nest. But like I said, now it is too late for you.
 

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Are you sure those are queen cups? 60 queen cells would be excessive for a hive with only 10 bars of brood. I usually get about 10 max in my smaller top bar hives. You're sure you're not mistaking drones for queens? Got any pics?
 

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what about trying to raise the queens? They are valuable.

Hey guys !

This is my first time posting here but I've been reading a lot for this past year. I'm a novice top bar beekeeper from the South of France, and I'm having a little a trouble I hoped maybe you could help me out with : I'm not sure whether my colony is about to swarm or supersede (I know there are a few threads concerning this matter already but none of them seem to fit to what's going on in my hive...).

So here's the situation: last year I installed a tiny secondary swarm from a nearby beekeeper (so a virgin queen if I'm not mistaken) into my brand new Colorado top bar. they spent the rest of spring and summer foraging and expanding nicely, without any particular trouble.
Now this seasons, they have been expanding quite a lot : there were only four bars of brood at the end of the winter, and right now I'm at 10 bars of brood, 4 bars of food, and 3 empty bars (which is the size of the hive, there's no more follower!).

Problem is, when I went for a visit 2 days ago, I noticed a few queen cups, both on the sides and in the middle of the frames (although more on the sides). I figured they were trying to swarm, so I destroyed the cups as I clearly didn't want half of my precious bees to fly away... :no: But as I went back today, I saw about 60 brand new queen cups, once again both on the sides and the middle of the frames, some of them already with tiny eggs being fed royal jelly! :eek:
So before destroying the cups once again, I reconsidered: maybe they're not trying to swarm, but just to replace their queen? (since the "ball of bees" only takes up around 2/3 to 3/4 of the hive, there seems to be a fair amount of empty space left!). Nevertheless, the current queen should only be 1 year old, and seems to be laying quite nicely: there is a fair amount of brood and it looks as regular as it could be.
So, what would your bet be? Swarming or superseding?
Do you think I should split the hive ?

Don't hesitate to post your insight, I'm very eager to hear your opinions and I'm sure it will prove very helpful! Thanks in advance!
(And sorry for my English, as you may have guessed I'm more used to French!)
Clement.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for your replies guys!
I think I'm going to split them. But can I be sure that it will stop them from wanting to swarm..?
Yunzow, raising queens? I wouldn't know what to do with them! And it wouldn't help with my swarming problem would it ?
As for the cells, I'm pretty sure they are queen cells! If I'm not mistaken, on this picture the cell towards the top is a drone's, and the one towards the top is a queen's cup, right ? (edit, the picture was rotated to the left during the upload, I couldn't figure out how to put it back to normal..)

DSC_0093.jpg
 

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No as I said the picture turned during the upload! They're all vertical. They look exactly like those actually (and this picture comes out when I type "queen cup" in google images). And they dont look like my other drone cells at all. Do you really think they could be drone cells..?
4739072770_2fb08ef259.jpg
 

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Still look like drone cells to me. Queen cells are more Peanut-shaped and bigger. When my hives have swarmed, the bees are literally boiling out of the hive when I open it, there is literally no room left. It doesn't really sound like your hive is getting ready to swarm to me.
 

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No as I said the picture turned during the upload! They're all vertical. They look exactly like those actually (and this picture comes out when I type "queen cup" in google images). And they dont look like my other drone cells at all. Do you really think they could be drone cells..?
View attachment 32571
Those two at the bottom are freshly built queen cups.
Also note how there appears to be a lot of nectar where there once was brood. That'd be back-filling the brood nest with nectar.
Both are signs that say yes get ready for the swarm.
 

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I see a drone cell in a worker cell and a queen cup on the right of your picture post 5 and two cups in post 8.

You have only one hive? Then, yes, you need an insurance hive. When is the question. 60 queen cups is not a supercedure. The some with larva and jelly will probably become QCs. If you have not moved your empty frames into the brood nest yet, I would. You will need those frames for your split. When you move them check your brood combs for new eggs or backfilled cells. That may give you more signs of what is happening.

The debate over swarm or supercedure from someone else's view and description is more argument than debate.

If supercedure split when QCs are ripe (tiny eggs being fed jelly would be larva just hatched to start your clock).
If swarm, you have less time.
 
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