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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I checkerboard my hives, and I did that in a timely manner on all my hives but one, which is in a friend's yard. Just couldn't seem to get there between weather and other work.

I checked it today, and it had a few queen cups and they were backfilling in the brood area. The very first cup I saw at first I did not think had anything in it. However, I swiped it with my hive tool, and saw that it had a brand new egg. They had not even put royal jelly on it. Just a dry egg in queen cup. It might have been laid 5 minutes earlier. None of the other 3 or 4 queens cups I found even had eggs. I've never caught a hive this early in the swarm process.

I rearranged the frames and consolidated the brood and tried to reopen the brood nest to make room for the queen to lay. However, do you think there is any chance that taking any steps will get them to change their minds given that there was an egg in queen cup?

Due to some issues with my job, the first time I will be able to check this hive is in one week, and I will do that. If they have built swarm cells, then I will pull the queen and some brood to make a split with it. Any other suggestions at this point?

Thanks
 

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I have never seen a queen lay into a queen cup. But I have seen many queen cups with dry eggs in them before. These are made after the queen laid in the worker cells that the workers turn them into queen cups afterward. So the cup you saw was probably from the worker cell the queen had laid in. I would think maybe 3 days before but I'm not too certain either. It is hard to measure when the egg was laid either 5 minutes or 3 days ago.
I have seen eggs turn into larvae in 5 or 8 days, depending on temp. I guess. I have also seen eggs that hatched and fed royal jelly in 4 days. Again it is all temp. related of when they turn into larvae I think. You can never know for sure of when they are laid if not timing the queen.
Now that they decided to swarm your only choice is to reduce their population and resources on a split. Because I have read that once they decided to swarm they will eventually. That is why opening up the brood nest to prevent this issue earlier in the season is so important. Don't be surprised though that they had already swarmed after 1 week when these queen cells are capped. I think it is a gamble that you are willing to take now. What do you think?
 

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I rearranged the frames and consolidated the brood and tried to reopen the brood nest to make room for the queen to lay. However, do you think there is any chance that taking any steps will get them to change their minds given that there was an egg in queen cup?
Based on the steps you took, I think there is a good chance that you may have changed their mind. If you still saw a decent amount of worker eggs and young larvae on the brood frames, you may have caught it in time. I've noticed with my hives that it seems the point of no return is when I find queen cups with very little open brood and a lot of brood nest backfilling. By then it is always too late to change their mind.
 

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Based on the steps you took, I think there is a good chance that you may have changed their mind. If you still saw a decent amount of worker eggs and young larvae on the brood frames, you may have caught it in time. I've noticed with my hives that it seems the point of no return is when I find queen cups with very little open brood and a lot of brood nest backfilling. By then it is always too late to change their mind.
IMO Mike hit the nail on the head. Amount of eggs, open brood in the hive seems to be the key to turning them from swarming. One additional step I take is to not only destroy the uncapped queen cup but also the egg/larvae in it. I do this because I've had them rebuild the cup if the egg/larvae wasn't destroyed also.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
They had started putting nectar in the brood area, but there also were lots of new eggs too. Also, it not only had drone cells but also adult drones. My other hives are behind that schedule. But maybe I'll get lucky.

I did not want to split it immediately because there would not have been any real queen cell in the old hive (the only thing that was there was the queen cup that I took out in the process of looking in it.) Also, I was hoping I can change their minds.

This hive looked pretty healthy, but it was not bursting with bees. It seemed like they could just be genetically more prone to swarm than average. Seemed like they were thinking about swarming earlier than usual. This hive is derived from a swarm I caught last year and then it requeened itself late last summer.

I actually like the hive a lot. It's pretty gentle and seems productive and lots of pollen being stored, and its likely from local survivor stock to boot.
 

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I wouldn't panic yet. A second year colony will supersede early. About repro c/o. When you go back in a week and find a few Queen cells, still not time to panic. A dozen would be time to take corrective action.

We refer to the starting of swarm cells as "swarm commit", but we have never seen the absolute start as you have it. Whether it's swarm or SS is of interest to me. Will be looking for the update.

Walt
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Walt, one thing to know on this hive is that I did not checkerboard it because I failed to get to it in time..

I got back in this hive today, since it was too cold this weekend.

I found one queen cup with no egg in it. I found lots of new eggs. In fact, I found the queen on the first frame I pulled to look for queen cells. She was a nice fat yellow queen, and she was laying in the cells while I held the frame. I don't see that everyday.

Bottom line is that I'm pretty sure that hive was on the verge of swarming when I found it. I don't think this is a supersedure effort. They were engaging in classic "backfilling" as Walt would describe it. For the moment, I have them distracted.

Without going into to much detail here, I will add that today I rotated two boxes to move more empty frames into the brood area. I will check it again next weekend. I sure hope I can keep this hive from swarming because its going to be dandy hive for honey if it doesn't swarm. This hive is right next to a grove of Golden Rain Trees, and an area with lots of nectar. It can make honey through June.
 
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