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I have seen posts here refering to ,"swarm cells" and "supercedure cells". Didn't make me any difference at the time. Now I need to know.
Today, while going through a hive, I saw a cell, on the side of the frame, about 2 inches long. I trashed it. Then I come across another and I let it be.
The queen in this hive is at least on her second season and posibly her third. I didn't see her but there are eggs and brood of all sizes.
What I need to know is , What are they up to?. What should I do about it?. What should I do or shouldn't I have done?.


Thank you for any advice . You have got me through so far. Keep up the good work.

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Erwin
 
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Erwin,

Swarm cells are generally located around the bottom of a frame. They will produce more swarm cells than supercedure cells. Some times they only build a few but most build 5+ cells, most strong hives will build 20 or more.

Supercedure cells are much lower in numbers, generally only one or two. It almost looks like they are trying to hide the cells from the queen. Queens will destroy queen cells if the hive is not getting ready to swarm. I guess they know what the cells are for. Usually they are found away from the brood nest in the upper parts of the hive or on frames close to the outer edges of the hive.

Emergency cells are found in the middle of the frames. And you will find more on the frame that had the youngest brood/eggs on it when the queen was removed or died. They very in number, but most colonies will build 5 or more.

If the hive still has eggs you can remove the cells. If the hive has swarmed or even killed the queen they will still have eggs to produce a new queen with. This is a common practice that beekeepers use to keep their hives from swarming. (aka. cutting cells) Some beekeepers do not like to do this because it is said that it causes undue stress on a hive.

If you do not want to cut cells this is a prime time to split the hive. If they are getting ready to swarm then you can split them and set the new split/hive beside the old one with little trouble of them returning home. Do it in the middle of the day when most of the older workers are out foraging. Take the queen and a one frame of capped brood into the split. Shake 2 more frames of bees into the split. The rest of the frames you want empty so the queen will have plenty of room to lay. You keep the rest of the brood in the old hive since they are losing the queen and it will be 30 days or so before they have a laying queen again.

<What are they up to?>

Kinda hard to tell with the description you gave. If you do have a queen going into the second or third season then it is VERY possible that they are looking to swarm.

If they are trying to supersede her then it will be better for you to requeen them yourself. I have not had but a few hives to supersede a queen. Each time the queen was less then perfect, to the point that I could tell how bad she was.

Do you have Russian bees? They are known to keep queen cells off and on throughout the season. They will build them and even start to raise a queen in them, only to tear them down and start over. The same queen keeps on going and seams not to mind the hive raising cells.

<What should I do about it?>

The best thing you can do to prevent swarming is requeen. Young queen are not as likely to swarm like older queens. Give the queen plenty of room in the brood nest. If she has to search for a place to lay an egg then get ready for them to hit the road. Make sure the hive isn’t overcrowding. The bees need room and some where to put the honey. Keep supers on and let them expand. The hive needs to have good air flow too. I have screen bottoms, or you can get a slatted rack to help with the air flow.

<What should I do or shouldn't I have done?>

If you haven’t done what I said above about trying to control the swarming then you need to start working on that. The bees natural instinct is to swarm. It may take you a couple of seasons to learn the art of swarm prevention. I know I read about it all the time when I first started but it takes some practice. The bad thing about having practiceing is you only have one shot per season to get it right.


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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks BB;
Aparently these are supercedure cells.
The queen probably best be replaced.

So; How about I kill the old queen. Then they can't swarm???right???
The queen cell they have is caped over. How long before it will hatch and be a laying queen?

What do you all think of the above procedure


I split off this hive already this season and do not intend to get a new queen. That is up to the bees to do.
It is not a superstrong hive. They have lot of room.


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Erwin
 
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If you have split off of this hive once already this season and are intending to let the hive raise their own queen then yes killing the old queen will head them into the right direction. This is done quite often.

I have allowed some of my hives raise their own queens in the past with very good results, but I prefer to requeen. This gets a laying queen into the hive much quicker than letting them raise their own. Keep in mind what a hive has to go through when they must requeen themselves.

Queen cells are capped after 8 days, another 8 until she emerges, 8 to 10 until she mates another 8 to 10 until she starts laying. Lets run some numbers. You are looking at 32 to 36 days FROM THE TIME THE EGG WAS LAID until she starts laying her own eggs. If you have capped cells then you can take 8 to 10 days from the day you found them. (on the 18th).

Lets play here and say the eggs were laid on the 9th, today is the 19th. That puts us at day 10. Some where around the 25th she will emerge. We know it will take another 16 to 20 days for her to mate and start laying. That will mean you can expect a laying queen somewhere around June 10th through the 14th. None of this may sound too bad but how about this. Lets say your queen is old and only laying 1,000 eggs a day. Not counting the 10 days that have passed if you kill her tomorrow, you will lose 22,000 to 26,000 bees while you are waiting for the new queen! That will nock a dent in the population for sure. If the hive is weak and you don’t mind feeding then killing the queen and letting them raise their own will be fine.

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>That will mean you can expect a laying queen somewhere around June 10th through the 14th. None of this may sound too bad but how about this. Lets say your queen is old and only laying 1,000 eggs a day. Not counting the 10 days that have passed if you kill her tomorrow, you will lose 22,000 to 26,000 bees while you are waiting for the new queen! That will nock a dent in the population for sure. If the hive is weak and you don’t mind feeding then killing the queen and letting them raise their own will be fine.

On the other hand the impact of all this is very timing dependant. Losing those 22 to 26K bees when they will have to be fed and cared for during the honey flow but won't emerge in time to forage for the flow may actually INCREASE your yeilds. Losing those 22 to 26K bees earlier in the spring when they WOULD have been available for the honey flow is a major DECREASE in your yeilds.

So part of the decision to BUY a queen or wait for them to raise one should be dependant on the timing. NOW is a good time to let them raise a queen.

I wouldn't kill the queen if you have any reason to believe it's a supercedure. You may not have ANY break in brood rearing if you leave her, in fact, sometimes both queens will lay for a while before the workers get rid of the old queen.
 

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HUMMMMM; I will have to think on this a while. If I could just discuss this with the bees I am sure we could resolve the issue. I don't think they would take kindly to my killing their queen if I gave them a choice.
Maybe I should put the box with the queen cell abover the other 2 boxes with a queen excluder between. Then when I find eggs above I can do in the old queen.

As for timing. spring is here now. Last week it froze hard enough to kill new leaves on trees in low ground areas.We are just near the end of lilac bloom and the red dogwood is just starting as are many swamp plants. What I call grey dogwood blooms a little later and the bees go crazy over it. They seem to forage all year in the swamp. I don't think we have a no honey time.

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Erwin
 
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