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Discussion Starter #1
So a bunch of queen cups popped up along the bottoms of frames in my inspection the other day. Dosn't look like anything's in them yet, but looks like they're thinking about swarming.

I'm interested in getting the increase and don't mind feeding like crazy to build them up (they just pulled a med super of comb from foundation in a week on a quart of 1:1 syrup a day, so I've already got the comb for them).

If I put a box with a lure in the yard 50' away or so, can I be pretty sure they'll go there? I work 10 hr days and get home late, so I really dont' want to completely miss them. On the other hand, if they're bound and determined to swarm, I don't want to fight them if I can still be reasonably sure of getting them in another box.

Also, I'm figuring I have at least 4 days to get another box built and buy a lure. Swarms won't take off before the queen cells are capped, will they?

Thanks for any advice/anecdotes!

~Tara
 

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If there's nothing in those queen cups, then the conversation is moot. I often see queen cups built and nothing ever becomes of them. I'm not sure why the colony builds them and doesn't use them. Look closer to see what's in them.

If there truly are a bunch of developing queens, why wait until they swarm? If you can find the old queen (and want to keep her), pull her out with some frames of brood and set her up in her new hive. That way you know you got the swarm. But this depends on if you marked your old queen so you know she's the old queen.

I'd wager 99% of beekeepers don't mark their queens and in most cases it's not necessary. I mark my queens because I turn my hives every year and seldom do I keep a queen more than two years. If you don't mark them, you don't know her age. But I digress.

Second option, dispatch that old queen (if she's still around) and break up the hive into nuc boxes with a frame that holds a swarm cell in each box. Squish the extra queen cells and leave the best looking one for each nuc box.

Putting up the swarm box, with or without a lure, is like setting a fish loose in a pond and baiting a hook hoping you can catch it. Yeah, they work, sometimes, but they are no guarantee.

My advice is to split the hive now if those queen cells have larvae.

Grant
Jackson, MO www.maxhoney.homestead.com
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Grant,

Thanks for your insight...

I got my nuc early June and up until last week didn't see a single emergency/supercedure/swarm cup at all. This week there's at least 8-10, all along the very bottom of the frames.

Do the 'random' unused cups you see pop up all of a sudden in large numbers? I thought that was pre-swarm behavior...

Last of all, if I wanted to use some of these cells in different nucs, how would I get them off the edge of the frame without damaging the cell? They're not on comb so I couldn't cut them out, and I dont' know of any other way to transfer them. And how would I separate the two on the right?

Thanks!

 

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These look like "practice" cells that aren't used. They appear dry (no larvae) but I can't see all the way in. I don't think you're looking at a swarm situation.

What I had in mind, if you were going to divide the colony, is to split up the frames so every nuc had a frame with at least one swarm cell. You will not be able to remove the cells from the bottom of the frame.

If the bees worked these cell cups into swarm cells, I would squish all but one on each frame, then make sure each nuc box had a frame with a queen cell on it.

But the more I look at your picture, I don't think you're going to have any swarm from these cell cups.

Grant
Jackson, MO
 

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Doesn't look like a problem to me. I see that fairly often. As to swarm lures, I've had pretty good luck with them although sometimes, bees will be bees and do what they want no matter what you try!
 

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I also see cups like these in some of my hives. If they have eggs or larvae you may want to watch them, but if not, it is normal behavior.

The swarm lure works well for me. This year I caught 6 swarms in 6 bait hives. One caught 2 swarms. The only one that did not catch one is the one next to most of my colonies. That was during swarm season in May, and one in June. I also put some old black comb in the bait hives.

Richard
 

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I would say a day or less if they are in the mood. Russian bees are known for keeping queen cups around even though they don't have any need for them at the time.

Richard
 
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