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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I made a split off a very robust hive exactly 1 month ago. I took 4 frames and the queen from the hive for the split, and replaced 3 foundation frames and 1 frame that had 3 capped queen cells from another hive that had just swarmed. I stacked it up and left it alone for a month.

Upon inspecting today I found multiple queen cells (possibly supercedure cells, they were on the center of the frame). Most cells were capped, but some were in the process of being worked by the bees and were found to have jelly in them. The queen cells were surrounded by empty cells across the frame.

I'm kind of scratching my head here trying to figure out what happened for the hive to be found in this state. When I originally placed the capped queen cells they should have theoretically hatched within a week. That would leave 3 weeks for the queen to mate and start laying. If the bees tore down the QC I placed, they would begin making new cells shortly thereafter. If a QC is formed and hatches in around 2 weeks, that would still leave 2 weeks for the queen to mate. Any eggs used to form these QC in progress were surrounded by other cells with eggs I am guessing. Which would result in the QC being surrounded by capped worker brood since worker brood takes longer to hatch than a QC. Yet these QC were surrounded by empty comb and some were not yet capped! This would leave me to believe that these cells were started 8-16 days ago. But I removed the queen 1 month ago!?

Strangely enough, the hive I pulled the original capped cells from is in the same exactly scenario. No eggs, no sign of queen, multiple capped and open QC on a few frames surrounded by empty cells.

Can QC go bad? If so I would expect all to be bad... but some are still being worked by the bees. I tore one open to see if the contents were dead, malnourished etc. but under the wax there was a white pupae inside the cell I opened. It has been mild temps in the 80s and frequent rain. It was hot and in the 90s around the time of the split. Bees are still working some clover here.

If anyone can help me figure out what the heck is going on I would appreciate it. Every week a new surprise....
 

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I think your issue is the method in which the split was made. Why would you take a queen which is doing well out of a robust hive and place her in a NUC? By doing this your best hive realized it queen less in minutes, you replaced her with capped queen cells which are capped day 10, and would have theoretically emerged 6 days later at the most, maybe 1,2,3,4… so the bees began making queen cells. So say your cells ( which you placed in the hive emerged ( original 3 ), she is taking out the other queen cells. Now your hardened virgin queen takes off but didn’t make it back, bad weather, dragon fly you pick. By doing the split in this method you set your self up to loose your better hive. NUC’s being made from frames that aren’t hopelessly queen less need a mated queen. So what I am trying to say is if I have queen less hive for say 2-3 weeks the capped cell is a good option, frames removed from a queen rite hive with workable brood not a good option, pheromones are present and are starting to get lower, so unless you have a mated queen and even then if they can they will produce cells, it’s a case for press in cages so the new queen can get to laying in a day or two. So the NUC should have been nurse bees, and queen cell with all capped brood, and your queen should have been left in her original hive. Hope this makes sense and all works out.
Cody
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I think your issue is the method in which the split was made. Why would you take a queen which is doing well out of a robust hive and place her in a NUC? By doing this your best hive realized it queen less in minutes, you replaced her with capped queen cells which are capped day 10, and would have theoretically emerged 6 days later at the most, maybe 1,2,3,4… so the bees began making queen cells. So say your cells ( which you placed in the hive emerged ( original 3 ), she is taking out the other queen cells. Now your hardened virgin queen takes off but didn’t make it back, bad weather, dragon fly you pick. By doing the split in this method you set your self up to loose your better hive. NUC’s being made from frames that aren’t hopelessly queen less need a mated queen. So what I am trying to say is if I have queen less hive for say 2-3 weeks the capped cell is a good option, frames removed from a queen rite hive with workable brood not a good option, pheromones are present and are starting to get lower, so unless you have a mated queen and even then if they can they will produce cells, it’s a case for press in cages so the new queen can get to laying in a day or two. So the NUC should have been nurse bees, and queen cell with all capped brood, and your queen should have been left in her original hive. Hope this makes sense and all works out.
Cody
Thanks for the reply. Very good advice about how to correctly make a split. Forgot to add in the original post that this hive was producing swarm cells. I found one capped and others that were started. Figured swarm was imminent. Created the split to simulate a swarm. Since I had just had a hive that did swarm I figured I would use some of the multiple cells I found to kickstart things with some fully capped cells. I placed a frame of 3 large capped cells from that hive and culled the smaller, unfinished swarm cells already present.

I would have not made the split if the hive did not show signs of an impending swarm.

I'm stumped on how I have queen cells present 30 days after I removed my queen.
 

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Bee’s in general are great survivors to the end they will make sure their genetics survive even in the form of laying workers etc. Most the queen cells you see now are them trying to pull off emergency queens with larva that are most likely to old, they can do it, but resulting queens usually aren’t great. So now here are the questions:
1) How many hives do you currently have that you can resource from?
2) In your area are you able to still get your hands on some mated queens?
As long as you have drones flying in your area you have a chance. If you have at least one fresh brood frame to give to each. This will prevent laying worker, and give the hive a chance to make viable queen cells.
Or if you can get your hands on two mated queens, and if you have capped brood in both hives, you can take the capped brood frame shake the bees, and use a press in cage to ensure she gets started laying and has best chance at acceptance. Capped brood frame could come from any hive if you have the resources.
If neither is an option you just have to let it play out, and pray for the best. Hope it all works out let us know.
Cody
 

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I would also be suspicious of the queen cells. If you have more hives I second the recommendation of adding a frame with eggs/larve from some other hives to see what they do. If there is a queen in there the hive will just cap these frames and it will boost the hive when they hatch out. If not it will reduce the laying worker urge and they can raise a new queen.

I still have capped drone brood in my hives, so I think I could get queens raised and mated right now, but your area may be a bit differnt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I have plenty of hives to pull frames from so I went that route. Today when I was swapping in the frames of eggs I actually saw a (new?) queen. She was looking pretty rough, but on the fuzzy side like a new worker bee. Her wings almost had a creased look to them. Here are some pictures of the way things look in one of the hives in this situation.
64685


Her wings almost have a creased/smooshed look to them. Do freshly hatched queens groom themselves into shape after they first hatch? If so maybe she just hatched and needs some time to primp herself into looking better.

64686


Here are some of the remaining cells in the hive


64687


I sacrificed one of the many cells to show everyone the progress of the queen pupae. I don't have enough experience to know if this looks good or if things have stalled out here. Looks pretty good to me.


Now that I have found a virgin queen, should I have pinched her since the wings look so bad? I am assuming she's not going to be able to fly. I left her be, for now. I am thinking maybe the bees will figure out she can't fly and dispatch her, while one of the other cells may hatch and have a better queen.

Do the pictures shed any more light on my predicament?
 

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Pinch that one if you think it doesn't look right. It seems that you have a bunch of cells, let nature take its course. If you have cells on more than one frame, take a frame with cells and split off into a nuc with some brood and bees and see if you get another queen mated.

If you end up with too many queens, it is far better than not enough.
 

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If I had to guess, they swarmed at some point. Unless I'm not following the timeframe correctly. This frame with the ugly wings queen is from the colony in question? If so, they clearly had a queen at some point in the last few weeks. Is it possible that you missed a queen cell when you made the split?

And to put a bow on it, I'm not sure that you did anything wrong making that split. I'd say that as long as you properly increased the space available to the queen right side of the split, I don't think you did anything wrong.

I'd consider the idea that maybe you missed a queen cell when you made the split? Colonies do weird things when they're swarming or getting ready to swarm.
I don't know what I'd suggest that you do with that queen. But given that you have queen cells, I'd say pinch her and let one of those others take over just in case her wings are shot, and they do look messed up. It is something they could "sort out" on their own. But what if she kills all the other queens first?
 

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...It is something they could "sort out" on their own. But what if she kills all the other queens first?
That was my exact thought- if she's damaged but kills the others and then can't fly to mate, that would be a big 'awwwww crap!'
 
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That was my exact thought- if she's damaged but kills the others and then can't fly to mate, that would be a big 'awwwww crap!'
If it was JUST her and no queen cells, I'd say let it ride unless OP had another option like a cell or mated queen from another colony/purchase.
I'm hands off with queen situations this time of year, but this one, I think, is screaming for an "assist" IMO. It's what I would do and it's what I would suggest if someone personally called me with this problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
If it was JUST her and no queen cells, I'd say let it ride unless OP had another option like a cell or mated queen from another colony/purchase.
I'm hands off with queen situations this time of year, but this one, I think, is screaming for an "assist" IMO. It's what I would do and it's what I would suggest if someone personally called me with this problem.
The more I think about it, I probably should have pinched her and let a new one take over. Since the timeframe to me is all goofed up I thought maybe the cells went bad? Don't know if the bees would put up with spoiled cells in the hive or if they would break them down once they sensed they were no longer viable.
 

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The more I think about it, I probably should have pinched her and let a new one take over. Since the timeframe to me is all goofed up I thought maybe the cells went bad? Don't know if the bees would put up with spoiled cells in the hive or if they would break them down once they sensed they were no longer viable.
That would depend on how strong the colony is, probably. They'd typically tear them down. I've had kind of rare occasions where I've had empty, capped queen cells way out of whack timing wise. Usually they're empty. So either it emerged and they repaired it or, I guess, maybe they built it empty. Or it was torn down from the side and then they repaired it.
 

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I have plenty of hives to pull frames from so I went that route. Today when I was swapping in the frames of eggs I actually saw a (new?) queen. She was looking pretty rough, but on the fuzzy side like a new worker bee. Her wings almost had a creased look to them. Here are some pictures of the way things look in one of the hives in this situation. View attachment 64685

Her wings almost have a creased/smooshed look to them. Do freshly hatched queens groom themselves into shape after they first hatch? If so maybe she just hatched and needs some time to primp herself into looking better.

View attachment 64686

Here are some of the remaining cells in the hive


View attachment 64687

I sacrificed one of the many cells to show everyone the progress of the queen pupae. I don't have enough experience to know if this looks good or if things have stalled out here. Looks pretty good to me.


Now that I have found a virgin queen, should I have pinched her since the wings look so bad? I am assuming she's not going to be able to fly. I left her be, for now. I am thinking maybe the bees will figure out she can't fly and dispatch her, while one of the other cells may hatch and have a better queen.

Do the pictures shed any more light on my predicament?
the only risk of "NOT" pinching is if she destroys the other cells then cannot fly to mate.
I found a queen in the grass in front of a hive this year, also had a hive nearby go queenless, I assumed the 2 events were related, she had one wing damaged, I did need to requeen that hive, there is some risk, whish a virgin that cannot fly.

GG
 

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Sounds like early stages of laying workers. They will try to make queens from drone eggs. Right now, while they are trying to make queen cells, you could probably give them a queen if you have it, a cell if you have it, or a frame of open brood and they would raise a queen. Soon it will be too late.
 
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