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nuc/split problem...

2610 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  BeeCurious
:doh: I need a bit of advice on handling a split that has undergone a bit of unintended 'frame manipulation'...

My father-in-law got his nuc ~ 5/16, and it was nearly overflowing with 4 brood frames and 1 overdrawn frame of honey. Everything looked good when we moved them into a deep brood body and in 4 more frames with new wax foundation (we were planning on 10-frame, but the overdrawn frame of honey (1 3/4-2" wide!) has kept us limited to 9 in the box. They're taking _some_ feed but I'm happy to say they're bringing in plenty of pollen and nectar and drawing out the 4 new frames.

However, we went into the hive on Sunday and found 3-4 swarm cells, and 1 supercedure cell (all uncapped). I'm assuming that the crowding in the original nuc and subsequently being honeybound, they're preping to swarm. I have spotted some larvae but no queen (unmarked, and presumably on a forced diet as the hive pushes her to swarm)

Now, this is where your's truly, the bumbling beekeeper, gets involved and starts mucking with things...

we scrapped off all the supercedure/swarm cells except one, and I pulled the frame with the last swarm cell, (bottom of the frame, uncapped & larvae visible inside) and put it in a nuc with some partially drawn foundation to try and get a split going. However, when I got the nuc to my other yard, I found that the cardboard nuc had failed to hold the frame ears high enough and the swarm cell had been in contact with the bottom of the nuc.

I saw workers on the slightly misshapen swarm cell this morning, and I _hope_ that they do a bit of remodeling on the edges of her cell opening, fix her cell, and continue to raise themselves a queen. Does anyone have any words of wisdom or suggestions as to what I should be looking for? Will they destroy the swarm cell if it's no longer viable, or do I need to continue monitoring the nuc to see if they're queenless and unable to raise another without young eggs?

A) is there anything specific I should be watching for or should I assume that I've done enough damage to assume whatever stings I get and return the frame to the original hive before I get a vote of 'no confidence' and an abandoned nuc? :(

B) any suggestions for handling frames with cells drawn off their bottom?

BTW: my FIL went ahead and re-purposed what was a 'birdhouse-cam' into a beehive-cam
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The general advice is to be v. gentle with queen cells ... don't even shake the bees off the frame ... so I suspect any cell damage will be a problem. Remember that the developing queen is toward the bottom of the cell.

If there were new also eggs on the frame I'd be tempted to remove the damaged cell and allow them to prepare another ... once there is an occupied cell I'd knock the others off and let them raise the Q undisturbed.

Better that they start again now, rather than raising a dud queen and then having to provide another frame of eggs from the main hive. As you suggest, you could also return the frame to the hive and then allow them to raise another.

I've done exactly what you did with a QC on the bottom of the frame i.e. crushed it against the bottom of a nuc. If the cell was sealed you can gently cut it out and fix it further up the frame, wedged between adjacent frames. However, if the cell was sealed it's likely that the original hive would have swarmed. Perhaps think about making a short eke to lift the frame an inch or so in the nuc??

Tell us what happens.

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Never scrape swarm/supercedure cells! Your old hive is still in swarm mode now and will most likely leave soon. The proper way to handle this type of situation is to remove the old queen with a couple frames of bees and make a nuc with them. Leave the cells with the old hive. By taking out the old queen and a bunch of bees the old hive will think the swarm has left and will go about business as usual, raising a new queen.
thanks for the tip fish_stix, I pulled out my H&HB for a refresher course as tonight's late-night reading, but your advice sounds familiar and bee-savvy.

I doubt that this hive has swarmed based on my last inspection, but I could be wrong if they're really hatching out like gangbusters. I looked over all the frames on sunday, but didn't make a thorough search for the unmarked queen. I easily spotted some d4-8 larvae in the frames and found a few gracefully deposited eggs in some of the few 'empty' cells. However the brood combs were well packed with capped pupae and covered with nurse/hive bees.

As I've already committed the previously mentioned atrocities, I would like to try and make things right with my girls.

I am closing up the nuc in my yard tonight, transporting it to the original yard (16 miles) in the AM, and hope to return it to the original hive. I assume the biggest issue is confirming the hive hasn't swarmed or gone queen-less by my actions. as I doubt they have any suitable eggs available to try again if they need to.

If I fail to find fresh eggs in the original hive tomorrow, would I be better off swapping my abused frame with one from my /other/ hive which was started from a package 5/10 and I know has plenty of young eggs to let the original hive raise a new queen if needed and/or otherwise bolster an interrupted brood cycle?

:thumbsup: props to fatshark for reminding me of the proper name for the appropriate shim, an 'eke'.
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went back into the hive and found both uncapped & capped larvae, and finally eggs! the fresh eggs look good (tight pattern, 1 per cell, uniform placement) and I assume that I overlooked the queen (and any eggs if they were present) in my previous inspections. They're drawing out both the natural wax foundation & duragilt nicely, and I plan on putting on an excluder & super in the next few weeks.

If I have a drone laying worker or failing queen using standard worker-cells, will the capped drone cells still be convex (domed like normal/large drone cells) or will they be flat like normal worker cells?

Thanks again for the input and helpful suggestions folks.
As for the frame of honey, I would shave it down to avoid it continuing to be a problem.
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