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Discussion Starter #1
long story short, i took all the swarm cells i found in hive 1 and put them in two different nuc boxes. i had suspected that another swarm cell had hatched, and i either had a virgin queen or a young queen in there. but the other alternative is that i left them queenless.

i want to give the nucs a chance to hatch their cells and mate a queen. holiday weekend so i may not be able to check for another 11 days. is two weeks too long to leave a hive queenless before they turn a corner to go to laying workers?

they are still gaining nectar weight. best case scenario is that i open them all up and have three new queens!
 

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You suspected one cell had hatched? Were the other cells capped? If so there is a good chance she killed the developing queens in the other cells. If not, you should leave the nucs alone for 3 weeks and then check for eggs and a mated queen. Nothing can be gained by checking earlier and there is a chance they will kill the virgin queen if you bother them too much.
 

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I made several nucs quenchless on the 10th of June. in all they produced 82 queen cells. All the frames from these nucs plus some from other hives where then placed in mating compartments. So some of the bees where queenless since the 10thof last month. others since the 28th of lat month. That is 13 or 21 days queenless.

We checked two or three of these compartments due to concern they where over populated. as a result one compartment was transferred to a 5 frame nuc. It still contained a queen cell.

We have not disturbed them since. We will not even attempt to look for a mated queen until July 11th. That is 31 days since the cells where started.

I have found that although a queen can be mated in the second week after emergence. it usually does not happen for us until the third week after emergence. There may be mated queens in those compartments right now. But eggs are likely to be so few that they will not be found. All of our queens should be mated by the end of this week. but we give them one more week to get up and running.

As for laying workers. As a rule I consider 30 days the breaking point. so any of these bees that have lost their queen will be laying workers before we find the mated queens.

For laying workers we combine all of them together in one box and add a frame of open brood every three days until they start queen cells. This usually takes a week to a week and a half. once queen cells have been started we no longer consider them laying workers and we split them up among colonies that need more bees.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
You suspected one cell had hatched?
i found a hatched queen cell. but i also found several other cells in various stages. including two capped cells that had been cups the previous week. also a brand new "emergency" cell in the middle of a different comb. also some other cells that were open and being torn down.

my thinking was that there was a new young queen or virgin in the mother hive, and i should take these remaining cells into nuc boxes and hedge my bets for raising a new queen. it also could have been that the old hatched cell was not a factor, and i removed their new cells and made them queenless. or the third option: these queen cells were already stung dead by a new queen and they had not torn them out yet. in which case, i just made two dud nucs.

this being my first year, i may have over-reacted. i wasn't looking to increase my hives. just cover my bases. the conservative choice could have been to just leave all the cells in the mother hive and let them figure it out.

daniel, thanks for relating your experience, that's the kind of narrative i need to hear more of.

i did find a handy queen calendar spreadsheet on solomon parker's website which helps me understand what may (or may not) be happening inside those boxes. i'm going to leave them alone for a while.
 

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I have found intact queen cells in hives where a virgin has emerged many times. There seem to be certain cells a virgin will simply ignore. Other cells with queens at a certain age of development they will destroy. At time the bees are reported to actually protect additional cells. So actual events vary. I like to get all cells out of the hive prior to any of them emerging and give all the queens a chance to mate. But that takes a lot of preperation and equipment and is not always all that successful.
 
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