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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have an Italian hive that I started with a package last spring. I haven't had the time to check on them much this year. Today I inspected every frame in the 3 deep hive and found that I have only capped drone brood and one queen cell with a very large larva inside. Not much honey or pollen stores and the capped drone brood would not even cover 1 side of 1 frame if they were together. I added two frames from another hive that each had eggs to capped brood and every stage in between. My question is should I remove the queen cell or does it make any difference? Will the existing queen cell keep the bees from making more queen cells?
 

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Most likely the existing queen cell contains a drone larva. It would likely be more prudent to remove it, so they're inspired to create other, true queen cells from female larva on the donated combs.

You will, most likely, need to provide donated combs to them, each week, for several weeks, before they succeed in raising a replacement queen for themselves.
 

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I had a similar problem with a wild after swarm, no queen next day. i added frames weekly but the bees were not interested in making a queen. luckily they did not get into the sometimes unstoppable drone laying stage. at the monthly bee meeting, wed. night I parked next to a well known beesource poster who had his bee truck. I asked if he had an extra queen. less than 10 seconds later I had a queen cage in my hand. thurs. morning I went thru the hive carefully, no queen, I laid the cage on top, no mob [ball of bees] scene, but some interest, a little while later about 3 bees started drumming their wings like crazy then went back to doing bee stuff in the frames. this all seemed too confirm no queen in nuc box. I left the queen cage between 2 frames candy hole up. I closed up and walked away and watched after about 10 minutes the hive went into calm mode, calmer they were, not too bad in the first place. i will check to confirm queen release in a few days. hope fully I will have brood soon, but they may still get another frame. the frames I added came from different hives and different races you should see the assorted zoo in this box hardly 2 look alike... .. you might really want to find a replacement queen before the summer slips by. support your local or not so local club [75 miles]
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I took another frame of eggs and added a week later. As I was inspecting the 1st frame of eggs added, I came across the original marked queen, but no queen cells. A week later I found 2 queen cells on the 3rd donated frame of eggs. I had assumed this was a laying worker hive after only finding capped drones. I guess the queen that came with the package wasn't properly mated and could only lay drone brood after she was 1 year old. Should I pinch the original queen being that she isn't laying any fertilized eggs or just let the bees sort it out?
 

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Huber observed drone eggs in queen cells:
http://www.bushfarms.com/huber.htm#maleeggsinroyalcells

"It is a singular fact, that the females, whose fecundation has been retarded, sometimes lay the eggs of males in royal cells. I shall prove, in the history of swarms, that immediately when queens, in the natural state, begin their great laying of male eggs, the workers construct numerous royal cells. Undoubtedly, there is some secret relation between the appearance of male eggs and the construction of these cells; for it is a law of nature from which bees never derogate. It is not surprising, therefore, that such cells are constructed in hives governed by queens laying the eggs of males only. It is no longer extraordinary that these queens deposit in the royal cells, eggs of the only species they can lay, for in general their instinct seems affected. But what I cannot comprehend is, why the bees take exactly the same care of the male eggs deposited in royal cells, as of those that should become queens. They provide them more plentifully with food, they build up the cells as if containing a royal worm; in a word, they labour with such regularity that we have frequently been deceived. More than once, in the firm persuasion of finding royal nymphs, we have opened the cells after they were sealed, yet the nymph of a drone always appeared. Here the instinct of the workers seemed defective. In the natural state, they can accurately distinguish the male worms from those of common bees, as they never fail giving a particular covering to the cells containing the former. Why then can they no longer distinguish the worms of drones, when deposited in the royal cell? The fact deserves much attention. I am convinced that to investigate the instinct of animals, we must carefully observe where it appears to err. " --François Huber, New Observations on the Natural History Of Bees, LETTER III. 21. August 1791.
 

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Pinch that drone layer
FWIW, a very few of the capped 'Royal Cells' contain nothing, so they can cap an empty cell, or, is a larvae or pupae removed along the way? What happens to produce an empty, capped queen cell? :)
 

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depending on the length of your season and where the date is now it may be better to re-queen rather than raise one from a frame of brood. if you introduce a mated queen you will have worker brood started in a few days. if you raise a queen it is a month and a few days. about half your hive strength is gone in a month... in long season areas, fairly early in the year raising a queen may make sense but in those areas it is often easier to find a queen. get to be casual friends with a couple of nearby commercial operators they often have a few queens banked ahead and will sell you one to help out, often at a reasonable cost, no shipping and get her real soon. the commercial queen may not be what you want, either raise your own in a nuc or spend some time trying to find what you want and later replace the commercial one. it seems like extra work and expense but the hive will stay strong and produce, and be ready for the soon to come winter prep.
 
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