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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone! New beekeeper here. Purchased and installed my nuc in late May and things have been going well. I've got my first super on and the honey production is in full swing. I do my hive inspections on weekends but this past weekend the unexpected happened - I discovered my queen has disappeared from my hive. I've done numerous inspections this past week but I've been unable to find her. There also doesn't seem to be any new eggs being laid - all that I have is lots of pre-existing capped brood and larvae that are in various stages of development. The queen was present the weekend before, but now she is gone. The hive is still strong and there has been no reduction in the colony size.

So my dilemma as a new beekeper - I now have 16 queen cups, fully developed and closed at the bottom of two frames in my hive. Since my queen is gone, do I leave these all to develop and let the first queen to hatch duke it out with the remainder? I'm not sure how to proceed at this point in time.

I'm running a single 10 deep brood chamber with 1 super on at the moment.

Any help is greatly appreciated!

Rob
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Hi Rob, welcome to Beesource. You will get differing opinions on this dilema. Are these swarm cells? As in, are the majority of the cells on the bottom of the frames? If so, the best bet is to destroy most of them and only leave two or three to avoid a potential after swarm. If they are swarm cells and capped, chances are the bees have swarmed once already. If you accidentally killed the queen and these are emercency cells, then it really does not matter. First out will probably kill all her sisters. Have you considered having more hives? Capped queen cells and a strong hive are a perfect opportunity to make a few splits and increase your hive count.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for your input JWPalmer - I really appreciate it. All of the new queen cells are along the bottom of two frames. I have no supersedure cells on any of my frames. The odd thing about the missing queen is the last weekend I saw her, she was in the middle of the frame which I promptly put back in the hive. I'm not sure how I would have killed her unless I squished her when moving the other frames somehow.

I was hoping to only have one hive this first year, just to keep things simple and easy for me, but I'm wondering if I should do as you suggest and split the hive. I do have another deep brood box that came with my hive when I purchased it. I can take one of the frames with the queen cells and place it in the new box, along with some brood frames and outer honey/pollen frames. Do you think that will give both hives enough time to build up before the winter? If I decide to continue with just the one hive, I can remove all the queen cells on one frame and leave the other frame to rear the new queen and let her sort out the others.

That's also quite interesting that you suggest they may have swarmed once already. I've seen no reduction in the size of the colony but I guess that always a possibility and could account for why the queen is missing. She may have flown the coop! Lol.
 

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https://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?356217-Bees-staying-home. This is a thread I started and it may help. Not certain I pasted it correctly but it is Bees Staying Home.
Hello everyone! New beekeeper here. Purchased and installed my nuc in late May and things have been going well. I've got my first super on and the honey production is in full swing. I do my hive inspections on weekends but this past weekend the unexpected happened - I discovered my queen has disappeared from my hive. I've done numerous inspections this past week but I've been unable to find her. There also doesn't seem to be any new eggs being laid - all that I have is lots of pre-existing capped brood and larvae that are in various stages of development. The queen was present the weekend before, but now she is gone. The hive is still strong and there has been no reduction in the colony size.

So my dilemma as a new beekeper - I now have 16 queen cups, fully developed and closed at the bottom of two frames in my hive. Since my queen is gone, do I leave these all to develop and let the first queen to hatch duke it out with the remainder? I'm not sure how to proceed at this point in time.

I'm running a single 10 deep brood chamber with 1 super on at the moment.

Any help is greatly appreciated!

Rob
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks! That was informative read. I've decided to split the hive and try starting a second one. Keeping fingers crossed that all goes well.
 

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I split the hive 2 days ago, moving over 4 frames including the frame with queen cups along the bottom. I shook in 4 frames worth of bees from my original hive into the new box as well. Today I had interesting behaviour at the new hive. There hasn't been much activity around the new hive, but today over a 15 minute period, a significant number of bees poured out of the hive, flew like crazy in the air around the hive and then they all came back and went back into the hive. Now the hive has settled down and it appears business as usual with bees coming and going. Could this have potentially been a mating flight for a new queen? I don't think it was a robbing situation as there was not fight at the entrance. Thoughts?
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Those are what is known as orientation flights. It is the nurse bees that are being graduated early to foragers learning where the hive is in relation to the sun and nearby objects. Often occurs in the late afternoon and is a blast to watch.
 

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Wow, fun stuff.

I didn't know about orientation flights.

Do they remember by memory where stuff is? Or is it like programming or a computer navigation type behavior in their brains? I wonder how this works for them, and what you think?

And 16 queen cells sounds like a lot to me. Does this mean its a strong hive, or just that they have a lot of resources? Is more queen cells also a good indicator if it will survive the winter?

Would be neat if you can put up some pictures next time of something like that.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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The bee's navigation system is somewhat complex. They remember up to 6 specific landmarks to help them locate the hive, but they also have the equivalent of an AHRS, attitude, heading, and reference system, that allows them to know spatially where they are in relation to the hive. That is how a forager flitting from flower to flower is able to head straight home after collecting her fill of nectar. Amazing stuff.
16 cells is pretty average for a healthy hive IMO. I accidentally moved a queen a week ago and got around 16 cells also in the parent hive. Unfortunately for me, they were all on one plastic frame.
There are some YT videos of bees performing orientation flights, many think that it is robbing at first.
 
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