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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We are brand new to beekeeping although we did attend classes hosted by a professional beekeeper. I believe that we installed the bees and the queen correctly and we started feeding them syrup. We had nice weather almost every day since installation and the hive activity has been very strong. A lot of pollen and nectar were being collected and the comb was being drawn out at a good pace. At week one, we couldn't find the queen, but we saw eggs and we assumed that we didn't spot her just because we are too new at this. At exactly the 2-week mark, we inspected the hive and saw some eggs, but not much in the way of larvae. More disturbing, is that there were about 10 queen cells toward the top of a few frames above the nectar and pollen cells. 4 days later, I now see the unmistakable peanut-shaped swarm cell at the bottom of a frame. I see several cells with white grubs growing and and I see several rows across the top of some of the frames that I believe are capped honey, but I could be wrong. They are completely white, so I'm wondering if they are really capped brood. My understanding is that the capped brood should have been in a circle pattern in the middle of the frame, so that's why I was thinking that this is honey for feeding the larvae. We also see some larger cells, not anywhere near the size of the queen cells, and larvae are being fed. Are those drones? There are also larvae in the queen cells being actively fed.

I'm thinking it's already too late to stop them if they are intent on swarming. SO.... do we punt and re-queen as soon as possible? Since it's our first year and we are enjoying the bees and not set on the business side of this, what's the downside to letting nature take its own course? Will the natural replacement queen be genetically inferior?

These are Italian bees, in case it matters.

Thanks!!
 

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it is common to see a commercial package supersede. Out of 150 we had 3-4 do this right away. (very annoying) Don't smash the cells. I would call and see if they would send you a replacement.
I disagree. Don't do anything. Let it be. If you put another commercial queen in there they will supersede her possibly. Just let them raise their own
 

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good call flyingbrass. IMHO

Imagine yourself as a nurse bee who's whole purpose in life is to care for brood, you and several thousand of your nurse buddies , along with several thousand foragers have been shaken into a package your queen taken away, and a new one is now present. for three day you rumble 2/3 way across the country, then are shaken into a hive, for another 3 days or so all you could do is clean and prepare comb for the next generation. for a week you have seen on brood, the Pheromones of brood and eggs is gone from the hive and you wonder if you are queenless, the faint aroma of eggs occurs occasionally but not in sufficient amount's for the thousands awaiting to care for the precious future of your line. it is your life's mission! Soon you begin to make sense of all this. Our queen is failing! she is unable to produce ample eggs to allow the colony to grow, you and several other nurse bees spring into action and build queen cells around some of the remaining eggs before they are all gone. and that is what is happening,

If the queen begins producing eggs in sufficient numbers to lead the masses to believe the hive is out of danger, the workers may tear down the supercedure cells, if not then the queen will be superseded.
I would not try to get fancy, I would not worry about harvesting queen cells or doing splits, You are new and I think it is ridicules to even offer such advise to someone who is dealing with their first package. Watch the hive weekly and follow it's course. As long as you see eggs in the center of cells you are fine. The nice thing about supercedure is that the superseding queen is so closely related to the reining queen that one continues to bolster the hive while the other is bred and begins laying. It is even possible for both of then to occupy the hive together indefinitely.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Imagine yourself as a nurse bee who's whole purpose in life is to care for brood, you and several thousand of your nurse buddies, along with several thousand foragers have been shaken into a package, your queen taken away, and a new one is now present. for three days you rumble 2/3 way across the country [in my case, the ENTIRE way across the country!], then are shaken into a hive, for another 3 days or so all you could do is clean and prepare comb for the next generation. For a week you have seen no brood, the Pheromones of brood and eggs is gone from the hive and you wonder if you are queenless. The faint aroma of eggs occurs occasionally but not in sufficient amounts for the thousands awaiting to care for the precious future of your line. it is your life's mission! Soon you begin to make sense of all this. Our queen is failing! she is unable to produce ample eggs to allow the colony to grow, you and several other nurse bees spring into action and build queen cells around some of the remaining eggs before they are all gone. and that is what is happening,

If the queen begins producing eggs in sufficient numbers to lead the masses to believe the hive is out of danger, the workers may tear down the supercedure cells, if not then the queen will be superseded.

I would not try to get fancy, I would not worry about harvesting queen cells or doing splits, You are new and I think it is ridiculous to even offer such advice to someone who is dealing with their first package. Watch the hive weekly and follow it's course. As long as you see eggs in the center of cells you are fine. The nice thing about supercedure is that the superseding queen is so closely related to the reigning queen that one continues to bolster the hive while the other is bred and begins laying. It is even possible for both of them to occupy the hive together indefinitely.
Wow! What an awesome response! I love the story from a bee's perspective. It makes so much sense. Something tells me that you've told this story to many newbies like me. If not, I'm glad we've captured it for others as well. I especially like your message of hope that there could be two queens. That's just incredible. As I mentioned in my post, this is not just about making honey. We are thrilled to see this fascinating feat of nature occurring right in our backyard, so I'm happy to be patient and see how nature takes its own course.

Thanks again!
 

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>already seeing supersedure cells and swarm cell

The terms "supersedure" and "swarm" indicate the intent of the colony. The colony has only one intent, not two, so either they are supersedure cells or they are swarm cells. Those terms have nothing to do with where the cell is. Where the cell is can be one clue as to their intent, but not a definitive one. A young colony that is not being fed incessantly that has only a few cells, I would assume is superseding. An established colony that is booming and growing quickly I would assume is swarming. A young colony that IS being fed incessantly and has backfilled the broodnest, might be swarming...

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfallacies.htm#swarmcellsonbottom
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks, Michael. Is it correct to surmise that we shouldn't keep feeding them? There is a lot of nectar and pollen available. I thought we should keep feeding them as long as they are drawing out comb. I suppose I can see the flaw in that thinking.
 

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Feeding has a lot of downsides. I see no reason to feed when there is nectar available. Feeding causes robbing, draws ants, drowns bees, disrupts the microbes in the hive, bypasses the natural checks an balances of foraging (often causing swarming), costs money and is a lot of work.
 

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I'm still confused on the feeding a new package thing --- I agree about all the downsides of it -- so I am hiving two more packages in a week --- there is nectar here, right now -- the desert seems to be in a good honey flow --- I always see feed a new package so they will make comb, and to get them started -- I don't want to starve them if they need food right off ---

but MB what you are saying is even a new package really doesn't need fed? I want to be sure I understand.
 

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A package has no stores. If it rains for a week this can be a major problem. Once they have a bit of comb and some stores and nectar is available, there is no reason to feed them. If there is no nectar available and they have no stores you will have to feed them or they will starve. I have installed packages and not fed them at all, yes. But you have to pay attention because they have no stores to fall back on if things get rough (like a week of rainy weather or a hard freeze that kills all the blossoms). In other words, pay attention and make sure they don't starve and they DO have something coming in.
 
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