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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We did an inspection yesterday of two of a neighbors colonies that were caught as swarms last year. Neither colony made surplus honey last year. We had rain in the early spring last year then as usual we had hot and dry weather for the summer months, we are dry now.

We did not actually see either queen, there was lots of brood and at least some larva, I did not see eggs. The one colony had several nice capped queen cells on 2 different frames that could have been no more than 9 days old. We made a split by moving one frame and we left 1 frame in the parent hive. I am reading and being told that transferring queen cells to a different other than the parent colony does not work.

I caught a swarm at about the same time last year that made 3 supers of honey and are extremely strong at this time.

With this information is it worth the bother to try to save more of these queen cells or concentrate on cells from more productive colonies? If you think we need to attempt to save some of these queen cells do you have a procedure?
 

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We have installed tons of swarm cells into queenless hives without issue. We always like a hive to bee queenless for 24 hours before adding a cell or a bred queen. Cells are very sensitive to being moved at that 8-9 day range as the queens are easily damaged. We generally would not use emergency cells as they are often result in inferior queens due to the cell being drawn out smaller from a worker cell. Superscedure cells would work fine but usually if a hive is superceding they need their cells more than I do.
 

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Most people tend to remove the existing queen when doing a split from the main hive. Then leave at least one queen cell behind in the parent hive. You can move one off to a nuc as well with supporting bees and brood as well and begin a new hive. As for the strong hive, you should focus on keeping them as well. If they made a good crop last year their genetics is strong. As a beekeeper you need to manage both hives to keep down swarming. When a hive swarms it looses half the workers, and if there are additional mini swarms it can knock out your hive easily.
 

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I don't know what type split you did but the act of moving one frame with queen cells to another box with capped brood, stores and several frames of nurse bees shaken in, should work, I do it several times every year and have good success, keep in mind that nothing works every time.
 

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They left a cell in the original hive, sounds like supercedure so the old queen will be gone soon either way once the virgin comes out. I've moved cells with nucs just fine but sometimes they can tear them down and start new ones but I've never personally had that happen if it's the same bees that made the cell anyways. I've pulled nucs from different colonies than the cell originated from and sometimes they get torn down and they start their own from their own genetics but it could've been a bad cell or it was damaged from cutting it out so it's hard to say exactly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
There were 5 queen cells on 1 frame and 3 queen cells on the other frame, we need to go into both colonies again to see if they do have laying queens. We did the split with one frame with cells, brood and nurse bees and another frame of brood and one frame of honey in a 5 frame Nuc with a qt jar feeder on top. We intend to check for progress Tuesday. Are there additional suggestions we need to do Tuesday? We are considering cageing some of the cells on Tuesday to protect them if we do want to transfer them.
 

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With this information is it worth the bother to try to save more of these queen cells or concentrate on cells from more productive colonies? If you think we need to attempt to save some of these queen cells do you have a procedure?
It all depends on what your objectives are. Seems to me that you're perhaps putting too much energy in these cells from a colony that really wasn't performing well. I think you'd be better served if you selected your best colonies and made some queens from it. Of course you can use these cells to establish some nucs that can be requeened with better performing queens later in the season. On such a small scale (one swarm colony for less than a year from unknown origins?) you just never know, but I'd tend to go with the colonies that are proven to thrive, unless there are other traits that you are interested in propagating. I'll bring in swarms to evaluate, but the vast majority get requeened. Occasionally I'm surprised, and if they're still with me more than two years I consider them as candidates for further breeding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
We did an indepth inspection this afternoon of the 2 colonies, we did not find either queen. Now we have 7 queen cells on the frame in the stronger colony. The weaker colony still has three queen cells, we saw no larva or eqqs. The queen cells in the Nuc had been chewed open, we stopped looking at that point.

I am guessing we moved the only queen into the Nuc. Or the stronger colony had swarmed before we started our inspections and the first queen out destroyed the others. We will wait another week and look again.
 

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I bet you have a virgin queen in the nuc that destroyed the other cells. Both hives had already swarmed. You could make more nucs and cut out queen cells to put one in each. I do that all the time. The genetics may be good it was just that the old queens did not mate well because of rain, etc. If you leave more than a couple of cells in a crowded hive, often there will be afterswarms which will deplete many bees and you will lose your chance at honey.
 
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