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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
my hive #2 has 90% of the brood nest in the top box (of 3 meds.) along with only a thin strip of honey. and then yesterday i found 5 queen cups on the bottom of one frame and 1 on another. they were just cups, not full size cells. BUT they each had a little puddle of white jelly in them. i didn't see a larva.

there's a good amount of nectar. but it's scattered throughout the hive. disorganized. the bottom box has no brood, a lot of pollen. there's still 5+ unbuilt frames in the lower two boxes.

if this is a supercedure, i'm fine with it. but if it's a swarm, i'd rather not let that happen. after all my reading, i still don't understand the difference in a supersedure cell and a swarm cell.

i moved a couple unbuilt frames up into that top box brood nest. but now wondering if i should have done more. i.e. put the bottom box on the top?

if they really are going to swarm, i can split them into some nucs. but i wasn't really ready to do that on my learning curve. how much time do i have to decide?
 

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There's good reason for not understanding swarm versus supersedure cells. Swarm cells tend to be larger in number, and built low on combs, while SC's are usually fewer, and more centered, but not always. & even if you did fully understand, you may not be able to prevent (or allow) either.

Swarms tend to happen when the colony decides it should reproduce, (often due to crowding, but also due to other factors).

Supercedures tend to occur when the leading queen begins "failing", but may also have to do with anything disrupting "normal" colony operations - like new colony population imbalance, or disruptions from (well intended, but often over-frequent) inspections. The queen gets the blame, and they undertake to replace her.

That you have primed queen cups means you have ~2 weeks before a new queen may emerge.

If you observe a healthy queen, with 1 egg/2 larvae/3 capped brood (X100 or 1000, or frame(s) - whatever), then you may want to either remove swarm or supercedure cells into another starter colony, or destroy the cells, and let things settle back down.

It appears you first need to assess the presence of a good laying queen ( or not), & then decide whether to remove or destroy any or all, or most of the cells. If you have only cups at this point, you could easily wait a week, and plan accordingly ( prepare for a possible split).
 

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They are now queen cells once there is an egg or larva and royal jelly.

Never destroy all queen cells, you could end up queenless.

Sounds like your hive was honey bound and no room above to expand and they hive decided to swarm. If they swarm it usually happens right after the queen cells are capped (8 days after the egg was laid)

I would take the queen and a few frames and make a nuc. Remove all but two queen cells in the original live, closer the cells are to each the better (you want first queen to hatch and find the other cell and kill it before it hatches).

I would organized the box a little for them take the nectar/honey frames and move them to the outside frames, move most of brood frames to the bottom an middle box. And the top I would have honey storage and empty. This will open up the brood nest and get the other frames drawn.

Something like this
EEHEHEHEEE
HHBBEBBEHH
HBBEBBEBBH
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
thanks for the advice.

12 hours ago, i convinced myself they are definitely going to swarm and i am definitely going to try to split them first. 8 hours ago, i convinced myself that the wax builders might catch up and give this queen some room, and they could still pull it out.

i need more info to stop my brain from guessing itself to death. is there a definitive book or website describing the queen cell building process. like, '2-3 days later, the hive pheromones change, they do a xxx dance and they decide to tear down the cell.' i've pieced together enough from the forum, michael bush, and other books to know i want to know more. do either of tom seely's books get into detail about the cell building process?
 

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>the sure-fire answer is: "guess right most of the time based on experience."
You will hear this allot "there is no right answer in beekeeping"

If I were to place a bet, I would bet your hive will swarm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
they must have swarmed already. I found a hatched queen cell hidden where I hadn't seen it before.
I put the remaining queen cells in a nuc to hedge my bets. now I'm worried about the other hive. it's in the same condition. chock full of nectar. capped and open brood but zero open comb for new eggs. they have empty frames to expand but aren't building much new comb. I searched and didn't see any queen cells ...yet.
 
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