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late last year I have installed a new nucleus and now it is 8 frames large - to my surprise today, i noticed queen cells fully capped and the queen is still present.
is this normal? they still have plenty of space and the colony is new - so how come they want to swarm?

and if we fail to remove swarm cells - does it affect the honey yield drastically?
during a swarm, what a percentage of bees is lost?

thx
 

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They are likely supersedure cells.

People often use location to call them swarm or supersedure cells, but I don't find that to be very accurate. To determine if they are swarm cells or supersedure cells you need to look at the entire context of the situation. I would assume that queen cells on the bottom were swarm cells IF the hive is building up quickly and is either very strong or very crowded. On the other hand if they are not strong or crowded and building, then I would assume they are not swarm cells, but supersedure cells. If the cells are more in the middle and conditions otherwise would cause me to expect swarm cells, then I would tend to view these as swarm cells. If the hive were not building and not crowded I would assume they are supersedure cells or emergency cells. Also swarm cells tend to be more numerous.
 

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Yup, most likely.

One or two and its usually a supercedure. More than that and you're more likely to be looking at a swarming scenario. Its not an exact measure by any means, but just an indicator.

As long as its fairly warm and you've got drones in the area, you might as well let them go through with it. You could remove the cells, but if they are trying to requeen its because they've found something wrong with the old one. That she's sick, weak, poorly mated, any number of things we can't see but they can. If thats true, then they are going to keep trying to replace her until they succeed.

If it helps, my personal experience (backed up by what I've seen others say as well) is that packages often requeen at the first good chance they get. I suspect its because whoever is selling packages likes to raise queens separately and then just dump as many bees as required from random hives into the package with her before they ship it off. The bees like to have their own queen, I suspect.
 

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thanks
so if i am getting it correctly, usually supersedure cells are low in numbers whereas swarm cells are high
also my book says that supersedure cells are on the first 2/3 of the frame and swarm cell on the last 1/3
Generally speaking yes, but keep in mind... often the bees dont read the same books we do =)
 

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>so if i am getting it correctly, usually supersedure cells are low in numbers whereas swarm cells are high

Yes. And swarm cells occur in hives that are rapidly growing. Supersedure cells occur in hives that are not rapidly growing.

>also my book says that supersedure cells are on the first 2/3 of the frame and swarm cell on the last 1/3

A nice general observation but not a good rule for deciding if it's a swarm cell or not.
 

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Do you know that you have a queen, now? I see you are in Malta, MT. I use to live in Winnett, MT. and I would think it is much to early in the year for you to have any drones. If you have a queen I would probably destroy the cells and wait until I knew there were drones flying, then I would let the bees do their thing.
 

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If you have a queen I would probably destroy the cells and wait until I knew there were drones flying, then I would let the bees do their thing.
Interfering with a supercedure could kill the colony. If there are not enough drones for a supercedure there certainly are not enough that the colony would initiate a swarm. In an emergency situation the colony could survive with successive supercedures if the first one resulted in poor mating. It has no hope of surviving if the old queen runs out of fertilized eggs.

I always gamble on what the bees know not on what I think I know.
 

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Do you know that you have a queen, now? I see you are in Malta, MT. I use to live in Winnett, MT. and I would think it is much to early in the year for you to have any drones. If you have a queen I would probably destroy the cells and wait until I knew there were drones flying, then I would let the bees do their thing.
My first colony I scraped the queen cells out of ignorance. Now I grab them with frames into nucs or spare gear from losses. Great way to propagate your own successful stock. Two nucs build faster than one and then can be combined into a strong colony. That can also interrupt swarming. I suspect they'll find enough drones.
 
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