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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After a perfectly executed cut down split yesterday (first time I'd attempted it) , my second attempt at a cutdown on another hive today was SNAFU. I could use some advice. I didn't find the queen. Instead I found a capped queen cell, at bottom of frame. From discussion on other threads, it sounds as if only one queen cell is more likely supercedure than swarm. I don't think the hive had swarmed , based upon the sheer volume of stored honey/nectar (A LOT), and large populations. But I also may have scuttled their plans to swarm today by my radical incursion. This hive has a bigger drone population than I've ever seen, which could indicate supercedure, but there's also a lot of nice, solid pattern capped worker brood, so this queen is still productive.

Was having a dilemma as to what to do. Didn't know if I should remove the capped cell or leave it. Don't know where the queen is. Clearly I am behind on hive inspections already for this hive, from which I have already taken one split. It's booming. Any thoughts? Should I just let things go for a week and then take a look at each box and see if there are any eggs/young brood to be found? Should I recombine (which will likely bring on swarm.) If the parent hive ends up swarming, then I guess I know where the queen was, and then recombining would make sense, would it not?

Thanks. Finding the queen is not as easy as all the descriptions of cut down splits make it seem.
 

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Three things stand out here to me. Booming hive, lots of drones, capped queen cell on bottom of frame. To me that is a sure sign the hive is ready to swarm.
 

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I try to make this point at least once per season, but it just does not register with those who learned something different along the way.

Supersedure (SS) cells are almost always on the bottom of frames when the colony is an overwintered unit that was wintered in more than one box. The clues to supersedure intent are:
1. Just a few cells. A 1 to 6 count of cells indicates SS in any robust colony. Swarm intent is indicated by more than 10 cells.
2, SS cells are generally all about the same stage of developement. Like, all either larvae or capped. If both are present, the larvae will be approaching capping size. Swarm cells can range from egg to capped.
3. Location of queen cells on the frame has little bearing on the intent of the colony after first-year establishment has been completed. In the establishment mode, the SS cell(s) are often located up on the comb. The cell needs to be within the warmed, cluster interior. Early in the comb-building effort, that would be near the top. And emergency cells are started where eggs were laid, recently.
The colony overwintered in two or more boxes normally starts cups on the underside of the next box above. Those cups are used to start either swarm or SS cells. Note that those cups are mostly constructed off the next higher bottom bar, where there is room for downward growth of a queen cell - Advance planning.

Walt
 

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Was having a dilemma as to what to do. Didn't know if I should remove the capped cell or leave it. Don't know where the queen is. Clearly I am behind on hive inspections already for this hive, from which I have already taken one split. It's booming. Any thoughts?
I think you have to decide what you want to do not what you have to do. It the hive is too intimidating then split. If you want more hives then split. If you want a big honey crop than pile on the supers and be happy.
 

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Didn't answer karen's question.
In the SS process, the colony often terminates the existing queen early. They have a lot of confidence in the process. My records indicate about 95% success.
The recommendation from here, is to be very careful in protecting their single SS cell, and let them do it their way.
Walt
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Walt, that's very helpful information; thank you. Most likely a supersedure cell then. So the other portion that I split off could be recombined: I don't need another hive and was trying to prevent swarming. They were very crowded in this hive - a booming colony, with most of the brood nest being backfilled. So it was appearing like a combo of swarm intent, yet with a SS cell. Interesting.

I want to try the opening the brood nest but with our radical temperature swings I hesitate to open the hive too early and expose them to late freezes/frosts/or as we had this year sustained cold nights. I often find myself behind in this, and then it's swarm control. Last year I tried simply putting a whole empty medium box with empty frames in between the two brood boxes. It actually worked! The hive ended up being very strong. That was a very simple solution.
 

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karen,
It is true that SS does limit the reproductive swarming incidence. If they implement SS early, they are less inclined to swarm that same season. Might be the induced brood break, simulating the post swarm period. That colony opted to supercede before your seasonal reproductive swarm cut off timing. But that does not preclude an overcrowding swarm, which can happen any time thereafter. Take care to maintain empty comb at the top to absorb the boomer population.

Walt
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Guess I could go either way at this point - either recombine the two halves, which would consolidate the workforce for honey production, or introduce some fresh eggs to the queen less half and get a new hive. The recombining will be such a mess, since I've taken apart their brood nest so thoroughly.
 

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It really depends on how you recombine/merge those 2 colonies, what kind of beehives do you use? Also you may order a new queen for the queen less half. Is faster than let them raise a queen and in this conditions the queen they will raise is more likely to be a less prolific one than queens raised by beekeepers or superseding/swarming queens.
 

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@ popescg:



Why is that?

Enj.
It's a survival thing first of all, when queen less bees will rush to raise a queen, to speed up the process they are most likely to choose older larva. The queen cells in these cases are smaller with thinner walls. The queen bees raised in these conditions tend to have a smaller number of ovaries and produce less eggs compared with queens raised by beekeeper, resulting from swarming or superseding.
These queens will save the colony but they don't build a colony as strong as the other kind of queens and some colonies will replace this "salvage queen" thru superseding in the next year.
The best queen bees are those resulting from superseding when bees take their time, provide plenty of royal jelly for the future queen. In this case queen cell is larger with thick walls which provide a more constant temperature.
 

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It's a survival thing first of all, when queen less bees will rush to raise a queen, to speed up the process they are most likely to choose older larva.
So you feel the bees are not going to make the best decision on raising a queen even if there are the resources in abundance? something about that doesn't make sense to me. I feel the bees would make their best decision when it really counts.
 

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Well is more than a feeling, is very easy to distinguish between emergency queen cells and other other kinds of queen cells. Abundant resources, food and bees is just one condition to raise good queens. I don't think bees are making decisions but rather they are drive by instincts one of their main instincts is colony survival. A colony without a queen is in trouble. Beekeeper on the other hand is the one that makes decisions and manage the hives in his or hers apiary.
What is non-intervention beekeeping? just curious
 

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Forgot to mention, raising a queen might take up to 16 days, going out to mate up to 7 days and start laying eggs another up to 7 days to start laying eggs... so for about a month that colony doesn't develop. It's better to give them a queen rather than raising one it will save about 3 weeks in colony development.
 

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I lost both hive and split last year attempting when I was attempting a cut-down. Couldn't find the queen but did find a few cells, and decided to use them to make a split. Parent hive queen mated well, but I lost it to small hive beetles, and then the when the nuc didn't produce a queen from the cell I put in there (temp dropped into the upper 30's right after I made the split) and I bought a queen, the hive beetles went crazy and the bees absconded leaving the new queen behind. She ended up in a hive at a friends house and is doing great this year, but it was not a good experience. This was the swarm that never did much, so not really a big loss (had to feed them heavily to get them to collect stores for winter, they wouldn't draw comb, etc.)

I'd leave that hive alone. You are getting all the benefits of a cut-down now -- no brood until a new queen gets busy -- and you can make a split later one you have a good supply of brood in the hive again.

Peter
 

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Wasn't thinking too clearly. We don't know for a fact the the parent colony HAD NOT terminated the existing queen days before the split, and had no brood young enough for an emergency queen. At least, we should go into the parent and confirm E cells.

Walt
 
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