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Discussion Starter #1
I did a full hive inspection today, as it was 68 degrees. My girls have certainly been busy. Found 4 queen cups on different top bars. One on the side of the comb, one on the bottom of the comb, and 2 on the edge of the comb. (I guess they don't read the bee books that tell them where to put the queen cells so I know what's going on...supersedure, swarming, etc). Only one had a fresh egg in it. Could tell if it was flopped over like a 3 day old egg, as I was too excited to take note.

I did get pictures. I also found a fully drawn queen cell (peanut shaped) that was empty and maybe had been chewed open. I also found "a queen". (I didn't mark mine last year so I don't know if she's new or not). BUT given the fact that another queen cup has an egg in it, that the queen obviously put there, should I go ahead and remove the queen that I found to a nuc box? I'm wanting to expand my colony, it's just a month sooner than I figured. Hives are already built, but one was supposed to get painted a pretty color.

I don't want to mess things up, but I'm pretty sure I need to get the other queen out of there.

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Picture 3 is of a queen cell where the queen has emerged in a normal fashion. I'd say wait a week and take another look, the queen you have now is a new one, or, there is a virgin in the hive with the old queen still in place. With the low number of queen cells/cups you have mentioned, it sounds like they are going to replace an old queen, not swarm. If they were thinking of swarming, there would be many more than just the 4 you've mentioned, in most cases.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Any thoughts to why there would be a fresh egg in the other queen cup if a new queen emerged just a week ago? And do they put the royal jelly in there first, or the egg? I can't see anything shiny in there with the egg.

And lets say the virgin queen did fly out, but didn't get mated (I only saw one drone in my hive so there aren't many out this time of year)...does she return to the hive and fight with the old queen automatically, or do the workers somehow know she's no good? Someone is laying a healthy amount of eggs and I don't want her to get into a dual and lose.

My other option with this topbar box is to section off the hive, as there are multiple entrances. I also have some screen that I could build a very long box around the queen I see just so she can't get hurt.
 

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OFF SUBJECT.

Ruthie, on one of your pics one of the girls is bringing in some pale yellow pollen(?) I am seeing a lot of that today here in Balmer. Do you have an idea what that is?

Phil
 

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Any thoughts to why there would be a fresh egg in the other queen cup if a new queen emerged just a week ago? And do they put the royal jelly in there first, or the egg? I can't see anything shiny in there with the egg.

And lets say the virgin queen did fly out, but didn't get mated (I only saw one drone in my hive so there aren't many out this time of year)...does she return to the hive and fight with the old queen automatically, or do the workers somehow know she's no good? Someone is laying a healthy amount of eggs and I don't want her to get into a dual and lose.

My other option with this topbar box is to section off the hive, as there are multiple entrances. I also have some screen that I could build a very long box around the queen I see just so she can't get hurt.
The egg comes first, royal jelly starts as the egg becomes a larva. Keep a watch and see if the egg disappears or if they start feeding it royal jelly. I can't say why they laid the egg in there, maybe for insurance? If for insurance reasons, it might disappear. If they are replacing an old queen, sometimes you end up with both mother and daughter in the same hive for awhile, before one of them (usually the older one) disappears. Some times, they swarm after the virgin has mated and is laying well (this does not happen often). So next time you inspect, don't stop looking for a queen if you find one, go through the whole hive and you might find a second one as well.

As far as dividing the hive with division board, that's up to you. It could work out quite well for increasing to get 2 hives out of this situation. You will have to make that call yourself, as I can't tell all of the conditions of the situation from here to advise much more. I still lean towards just watching for a week, but there is the chance they could swarm; Sometimes they do when replacing an old queen, just not as often as when the mother of the pair just disappears.
 

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If you want to do a split then it is easier to just leave the new queen where she is to head the
current hive if no other queen is found. And take this frame into a new nuc to build a new queen.
Feed and have plenty of bees to make sure they have a strong virgin queen later on.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
OFF SUBJECT.

Ruthie, on one of your pics one of the girls is bringing in some pale yellow pollen(?) I am seeing a lot of that today here in Balmer. Do you have an idea what that is?

Phil
I believe it is some type of maple pollen. We've been seeing it here for about 10 days. They started with greenish grey pollen, then the lighter yellow and then a deeper yellow/orange. My guess is the deeper yellow is camellias as I saw that in the fall when mine were blooming. Not much else in my yard, aside from hellebores is blooming now, so it must be a tree.
 

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I would do what Ray suggests and monitor they'll probably clean out the eggs. How many frames of brood, honey, etc. How many frames were layed up?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you all for the replies. The general consensus, including input from my local bee club, is to wait a week and see what happens with the egg in the cup. By next Sat, it should be close to being capped. The colony is healthy, but they don't have a whole lot of room to lay brood. I don't have empty comb to give them, but I have been uncapping the stored syrup and giving them back that comb to clean out and use. The one I put in there on Tues was getting packed with pollen. Hopefully, the existing queen will lay both sides with eggs in the next couple of days. Local bee man said I should get more comb in there or even empty topbars to open up the brood chamber.

The comb I put in there was directly in the middle of the 2 bars that are heaviest with brood, so I have opened up the brood chamber as of Tues. Maybe the empty comb splitting the brood nest is why the queen decided to lay another egg in the queen cup. The hatched queen cell, the empty q.cup, and the q.cup with egg are all on the same bar that is also heavy with brood. The other q.cup I found is on another bar of brood (where I spotted the queen) and in the middle of the comb rather than on the edges or bottom.

I really would like to be able to remove one of the queens to my display hive as I go to shows frequently. So I wouldn't care if she was a drone laying dud. For show-and-tell, people just want to see a painted queen. I guess I'll have to put a red and green dot on that one since I won't know if she's the old or new queen. Only one drone in my hive today, and while there is another beekeeper less than 5 miles from me, it's a small hive so I can't imagine a virgin queen this time of year could get mated very well.

Wouldn't be all that bad to have a drone laying queen though. These bees are great and I wouldn't mind passing off some of their genes to future generations whether it bee a queen or a drone. I just don't have enough bees at this point that I can afford to make a mistake with half the brood. I also don't want to risk my good queen getting killed this time of year.
 

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I would not wait a week...they will cap it in 8 days...and if they are planning a swarm, that is the day they will likely do it. I would wait about 4 days and look again....if they are gonna raise a queen you will be able to tell then.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
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Just a follow up to last Sunday. I opened the hive again to check on the queen cells. Not quite capped yet. That means the egg was Day 0 or Day 1 when I spotted it last week. And there is a larvae in the other queen cell now too. So I will check again tomorrow to see if they are capped, so the countdown can begin. Other bars are still being laid up with fresh eggs, so I know the queen is still good. Since these are both on the same bar, I think I will pull them and a few more and make a nuc. Not likely either one of these queens will be any good since it's so early, but I don't want them finding the queen mother.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I would say if they are gonna swarm it will be the next day or so.....but I doubt you have drones now do you?
I counted 1 drone and 8 capped drone cells. I don't think they are planning to swarm with all the fresh eggs. (but I already have my swarm box up just in case, plus 2 empty hives waiting on my spring package). They only built 3 queen cups so my thought is supersedure. I have expanded the brood nest in the past week, and there are tons of new eggs and larvae in all stages. Maybe they were just bored being cooped up that week we had all that crazy cold weather, so they decided to make a queen. Other one is only 8 mo old. Should either one of the new ones make it back after mating, she will go in my observation hive.
 

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If they don't kill the old queen first and then you end up with a queen that is not bred...I would really be worried about a queen replacement this early...I would really be worried about the drone population.
 

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Since these are both on the same bar, I think I will pull them and a few more and make a nuc. Not likely either one of these queens will be any good since it's so early, but I don't want them finding the queen mother.
That sounds like a good idea if you'd like to try it. Good luck!
 

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Yes, the queen mother is very important being this early. If she is dead you most likely cannot find a replacement this early unless
you have a local queen source. The most risk I would take is to put her in a nuc box with lots of bees to keep her safe and well fed.
And the most you can do is to take a risk for the daughter queens in the original hive. If they are mated then you can do further splits for this hive. If no early drones then you can buy another queen for this hive later on. Some also put the old queen back to the original hive but eventually she will be replaced if the bees not like her.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Just an update on my hive. Since the 2 capped queen cells are due to hatch in the next couple of days, I went inside the hive to move them to separate nucs. I discovered no new eggs, but still a fair amount of capped worker brood. So the queen that I marked last week is a drone layer. So the outcome of my hive rests on these 2 queen cells. They were both on one bar, but I moved one off to another bar with other brood. I only have about 4 bars of brood, but plenty of pollen coming in. This was definitely a superseedure, just a very early one.

I'm wondering if I should put a hardware cloth "cage" around one of the queen cells so I can move it to a mating nuc once she hatches. I really don't want the first one to hatch to go kill the other one. Weather is suppose to be in the high 60's for the next 10 days, so I've got a pretty good chance of one or both queens getting mated.

My other option is to put a couple of bars in my display hive to keep an eye on things. Any suggestions?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Why do you say a drone layer if it's all worker brood left?
drone brood are most recently capped, and a lot of it. They built new comb just for the drones, so it has to be the new queen. Up until last Sun, I could see fresh eggs, but I didn't know if they were drone or worker until they were capped. I think the original queen was probably there up until this past week. I didn't go thru the entire hive, and I don't believe my original queen is the one I marked last week. The bees treated her differently, and she'd just walk around and not lay eggs. I suppose there is a slight chance the other queen is still there, but obviously the bees aren't happy with the original queen.
I'm trying to figure out what to do about the 2 cells getting ready to hatch in a few days.
 
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