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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a first year hive started from a nuc this season. The queen never really seemed to be laying strongly, so the population is relatively small with very few frames of honey stores. I noticed last week that there was some backfilling in a couple of the frames of the brood chamber (deep), but there were still open cells throughout. Today I found a frame with 2 supersedure and 2 swarm cells. With such a small population, barely filling a deep and half a medium, it seems crazy that they would swarm. My question is what to do, if anything. Should I get rid of the queen myself, remove the swarm cells, or let nature play its hand?
 

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Based on your description they will not be planning to swarm. The queen cells will be for supersedure, or, because the queen is dead so they have made some emergency cells.

If there are still free flying drones where you are then let nature take it's course. No need to kill the queen, if the supersedure is successfull she will eventually be killed but if the supersedure is not successful at least the colony has the old queen to fall back on.

And, as you have discovered, the idea that queen cells on the face of the comb are for supersedure, and on the bottom of the comb for swarming, is a myth. Swarming hives will very often have queen cells on the face of the comb, and supersedure cells may be built on the bottom of the comb, so I don't know why this idea persists that you can tell what the cells are for by where on the comb they are placed.

One other thing, if your hive has failed to prosper all season there must be something holding it back. Things to check are do they have sufficient pollen, and is your varroa control regimen doing the job effectively.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
One other thing, if your hive has failed to prosper all season there must be something holding it back. Things to check are do they have sufficient pollen, and is your varroa control regimen doing the job effectively.[/QUOTE]

Thanks for the response. Just to clarify their pollen stores are great and have been all season and mite counts have been consistently low, so it's unclear to me why they have been so slow to build up. Not sure if it is useful info, but the hive temperament is calm as well compared to a week ago when I observed and there were no queen cells. There are still some drones around and in my hives, but far fewer at this point in the season.
 

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OK well sounds good about the pollen.

What are low mite counts, and what method did you use?
 

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I'm also a first-year keeper and I learned a valuable mite lesson earlier this year...

Using the SBB insert I had a high mite count in a 24 hour period (I think it was 46) on my previously untreated colony. I used Mite Away Quick Strips per instructions and at the end of the treatment period I had zero mites on my un-oiled bottom board. If I didn't have the previous count to compare to I would have thought "sweet, no mites". I knew I had mites so I started observing closely and saw that ants were carting away the mites. I would probably have had hundreds of mites on the bottom board if I had coated it with something sticky or oily.

Moral of the story... make sure your mite count method is effective.
 
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