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Discussion Starter #1
I have a hive that is a swarm that I'd caught a couple of months ago. Hive is doing very well in two deeps. Yesterday I took a look at it and saw what I believe are swarm cells at the bottom of a couple of frames in the top deep, though the cells weren't hanging off the bottom of the frames but rather are within the lower couple inches of the frame. All are uncapped and appear to only have royal jelly in them rather than larvae. Clearly cells, not just cups. Meanwhile the queen was happily marching around them laying eggs in open cells.

I left the cells alone but opened up the nest by adding a few frames of comb (drawn and undrawn). Also added a honey super as the flow is on.

I don't need another hive and would prefer to stop them from swarming, but understand that's very hard to do. My thinking is to watch the cells and see if they are capped. By "bee math" I should have at least 5 days till they're capped, then 8 more (13 total) before they hatch. I understand hives tend to swarm the day before cells hatch, so if I check them in say 10 days and there is a bunch of capped cells I'd then split the existing queen and a couple more frames into a nuc.

Sound like a good plan? I thought about destroying the swarm cells but figured better not to.
 

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The queen in a primary swarm is the old one that overwintered, and I'd not be surprised if the bees are superceding her. If she is still busy laying, it's possible she will continue to do so all summer, and you will have two queens in the hive. This is happens once in a while, and is called and "efficient supercedure" -- probably a trait worth selecting for if possible.

Otherwise, sometime before the new queen starts laying the bees will stop feeding the old queen and she will soon die.

I'd let them alone, they know what they are doing and your very active queen may actually be slowing down or laying too many drone eggs or something and needs to be replaced.

Peter
 

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I don't need another hive and would prefer to stop them from swarming, but understand that's very hard to do. My thinking is to watch the cells and see if they are capped. By "bee math" I should have at least 5 days till they're capped, then 8 more (13 total) before they hatch. I understand hives tend to swarm the day before cells hatch, so if I check them in say 10 days and there is a bunch of capped cells I'd then split the existing queen and a couple more frames into a nuc.
They actually usually swarm the day or so after they're capped so you may not have as much time as you think.

It could be a supercedure but I wouldn't totally depend on it... I had a swarm I caught swarm again in under 3 months so you just never know. To be on the safe side you might want to do a split now and you can always recombine later if you don't want anymore hives.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks. Since I only a saw royal jelly in the cells, I should have at least 5 days until they are capped. So if I check them in say 4 days and there are larvae in the cells I'll know that they're either about to swarm or supersede the queen, so I can split the old queen into a nuc. Sound like a good plan?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thx. I have never split a hive in this manner. I'd like to leave the original hive as strong as possible. Would two frames of brood with the old queen be enough? I have other drawn frames with some honey and pollen stores to also use in the nuc.
 

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Yes, couple frames with the old queen will make you a nuc, be aware that bees older than 2 weeks are flying bees, will have learned the location of their hive, and will return to it. So you have to put extra bees in the split to make up for the ones that will return home.

The position of the queen cells does not really tell you what the bees intentions are, ie, swarming or supersedure. A better guide is the number of cells. If it's supersedure there is normally 1 to 3 cells, that's because they only need one queen. If they intend to swarm they will often build a dozen or more cells, that's because they may send out a number of after swarms.

If your hive intends to swarm, removing the old queen plus two frames, may not be enough to stop it. There will still be enough bees in the parent hive that they will still swarm anyway once the cells hatch, this is a common nubee mistake. If you judge by the numbers of queen cells that the hive is planning to swarm, it is best to remove the queen plus a large split of around 1/2 the hive, and also kill all queen cells except two. This will give you better odds of keeping all your bees.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Following the original post up... I decided to do a split today so headed to the hive location with a nuc in hand only to find a big beautiful swarm on a retaining wall nearby! So much for that plan! Turned out to be a fun swarm capture and the easiest ever as I just put the nuc on top of the wall and watched as the swarm marched right in. I even found the queen on the side of the wall and watched her move in, very neat to see.

Lesson learned - don't wait if I see queen cells!
 
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