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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Helped someone with a hive inspection today.
Hive was started from a package in early may and by the looks of the bees are Carniolans. Hive is made up of 8 frame medium supers and is a little weak. The top box has a small amount of activity with comb being drawn on plastic frames The middle box has approx 6 frames of brood, some capped , some uncapped, also found the unmarked queen in this box. One of the frames in this box was a foundationelss frame that the bees had drawn as drone cells and there were still a large number of capped drone brood, the other cells on this frame were full of nectar/sugar syrup - there is a feeder on the hive. The bottom box has drawn comb and a couple of frames of young brood plus a small amount of capped brood, some of the drawn comb again is full of uncured nectar or sugar syrup. This box also has a single capped swarm cell hanging off the bottom of one frame and there is also an uncapped supercedure cell on another frame, play cell?
Went thru all the hive and where there is brood the pattern looks fine however I could see no eggs anywhere so suspect that they are serious about swarming.
The hive owner says there was no obvious queen cell at his last inspection a week ago (7-8 days). He did say that he removed the feeder a week or so back and the bees ejected all the drones, during this inspection there were no drones spotted anywhere in hive. The hive is light on stores so possibly the drone ejection was because of a stores shortage.
Reassembled the hive with the main brood box that was in the middle at the bottom and what was the bottom box with the swarm cell in the middle
Would like some advice on what to do at this point. Think the hive is too weak to split/artificially swarm but am worried about destroying the swarm cell in case they really do swarm and with no eggs in the hive there would be then no recourse.
Willing to listen to all ideas. I'll try and get the pics of the swarm cell and frames.

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Possibly but the laying pattern looks fine. It's very interesting that there is some drone brood but no visble drones and no visible eggs, also the single Swarm cell.
If we destroy the swarm cell what are the ramifications?
Would we be better to get the queen and a couple of frames of bees and brood into a nuc box and then see what transpires over the next week in the original hive?
 

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If they are weak they could be superceding the queen.
Agreed. Weak queen that they might be looking to replace. If the hive is really weak and you are concerned about losing half of that weak colony and making it even worse, one option to consider is to find the queen and pinch her. With a weak colony, she should be easy to find. No old queen to sound the swarm call, no swarm. The capped queen will be out first out and will kill the other queen cell.

C2
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Agreed. Weak queen that they might be looking to replace. If the hive is really weak and you are concerned about losing half of that weak colony and making it even worse, one option to consider is to find the queen and pinch her. With a weak colony, she should be easy to find. No old queen to sound the swarm call, no swarm. The capped queen will be out first out and will kill the other queen cell.

C2
The supercedure cell is empty. There is only ONE swarm cell.
You said
No old queen to sound the swarm call, no swarm
Hive owner reported he heard piping last week. is that what you are referring to?
 

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A very very knowledgable beek told me that he never could figure out a pattern for "swarm" cells vs Supercedure cells based on placement within the comb. I have 2 hives that both have what i would consider "weak queens" and both have "supercedure cells" as I would like to think. It's up to the bees to decide what to do. Theres a reason for it and they know it. Just for fact purposes and another beek corrected me. What you have on pic 3 is a cup, not a cell....cells are considered sealed. I have a hive that has cups all over the place, but they are all empty. You could split, but if he isn't wanting to increase then I'd let them be. If not, then he could split them. I did that the other day and now all seems well and good with that hive, and the new queen just hatched and took out all the other cells....

Man, i wish my beesuit was that white...lol.
 

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Are you sure they didn't already swarm or the old queen was already superceded. If the owner heard piping last week he could have heard the virgin that hatched from the now empty cell. Drone brood is the last to hatch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yes that's possible which will make this week interesting. There is definitely a queen in the hive as we saw her but no eggs were visible so possibly not mated yet. Will wait to see the outcome now with the swarm cell on the frame bottom.
 

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Now that I looked at your pics I would say the empty cell is not one that hatched. It is odd that there is only 1 cell that is in a swarm cell position.
 

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I zoomed in on it beeslave and saw the same thing. Good chance they already hatched one and tore down the cell tho. Could be.
 

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As a rule of thumb, weak hives don't swarm, and strong hives don't supercede.

Another rule of thumb is 6 queen cells or less are supercedure cells, and more than 6 (often 20+) are swarm cells.

Any chances these are emergency queen cells, due to something happening to the queen? Bees will make emergency cells anywhere.

I've been keeping bees for 3 years, and been around several hundred hives. I don't know that I have ever heard a piping queen, and likely wouldn't recognize the sound if I heard it. That beesuit is awfully white for being able to recognize a piping queen....just saying.
 

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We have seen way too many early package queens fail. The most aggravating is when the queen, within 12 days tapers to not laying, and the bees do not raise a new queen, because they can still smell the old one. You add eggs, and the old queen tears down the few new cells they make. One solution is to move any started cells to above the excluder(with an upper entrance), so that the old queen can not attack them.
Either way, I would add eggs to the hive, above and below an excluder, and see how they react.

Roland
 
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