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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Been noticing reduced traffic over the past month in a formerly big hive. Now it's just "decent" size, plenty of bees on frames in each super (1 Deep + 4 shallows), but not crowded from box to box. The dwindling occurred over the past 6 weeks based off front-door traffic. I was going to make splits off of this old swarm queen from 2014 (or older) to break the brood cycle and make increase. I removed the queen excluder a month ago to get the old girl to move up and the bees to follow to draw out some more frames (they did not). She loved to lay in the shallow frames, never the deep. I have seen her in the past month but noticed while her brood pattern was still tight the amount she was laying was less. Just found a bunch of what appears to be 8 capped swarm cells on the bottom of a shallow frame 3rd box up. Also found 2 queen cells drawn from top middle of a couple more shallow frames on the 4th box up. Went down to the deep and found a beautiful capped cell near the top middle of a deep frame. I made a little bit of hay while the sun was shining, moved one frame with cells to a top compartment with entrance and an excluder below, and the others to just on top of the deep for the bottom chamber, so hopefully I'll end up with two new laying queens out of this old girl. Should I have knocked down all but 2 of the cells off that one shallow frame with 8?

Haven't seen the queen in a few weeks, but did find a little bit of 4-6 day old larvae, lots of capped brood in a nice tight pattern but no eggs. Are these swarm cells or supercedure cells? In all the books they tell you you'll get one or the other. Heck, I've got both. :scratch: I do love these bees (first bees I ever fell head over heels for). Fingers crossed I'll end up with some offspring! Thanks, everybody.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Recounted from photos, and there were 15 cells on that one shallow frame, along with 6 others on various faces of frames. So number or multitude of cells also indicates the story, not just position. Got it, thanks! :)
 

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I got both, but mostly swarm.
They don't really do "both"... but swarming is kind of a means of superceding. You don't have "swarm cells" and "supercedure" cells. You've just got swarm cells that happen to be in multiple vertical locations.

Recounted from photos, and there were 15 cells on that one shallow frame, along with 6 others on various faces of frames. So number or multitude of cells also indicates the story, not just position. Got it, thanks! :)
Also cell age. See how some of those on that frame and capped and other look like their ends are still open? That's so they have a few chances at a queen or a few chances to send more bees out with a virgin when she emerges. They won't let her destroy all of them until they're ready.

Have you considered splitting and trying to get at least a couple of queens out of all of those cells?
 

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I don't agree with the whole placement of the cell as an indication of what's going on thing. I have seen supercedure cells only on the bottom of frames and swarm cells only on the middle of the frames and vice versa but usually it is a mixture of both places during either event you have to look at the hive as a whole booming population no fresh eggs backfilling the brood area lots of cells means swarm now op you didn't mention backfilling but you did mention not seeing eggs I would do your splits now and call good.
 

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I don't agree with the whole placement of the cell as an indication of what's going on thing. I have seen supercedure cells only on the bottom of frames and swarm cells only on the middle of the frames and vice versa but usually it is a mixture of both places during either event you have to look at the hive as a whole booming population no fresh eggs backfilling the brood area lots of cells means swarm now op you didn't mention backfilling but you did mention not seeing eggs I would do your splits now and call good.
This is a good post and I agree. I've had swarms with queen cells that looked like supersedure and vice versa. Sometimes you just have to step back and take the whole situation in. It's not always paint by numbers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It's not always paint by numbers.
Ravenseye, you said it! I did divide the cells so that I end up with two nucs out of the deal (put one cell frame up top with its own entrance and a couple of brood frames, then an excluder, then a couple of supers, then the other cell frames down below). I probably should've done more, but I've got a limited amount of equipment and bees to spare (other splits under way). I looked back on the photos and did see some eggs and larvae on one of the cell frames. Never saw the old girl, though, so I'm sure they left. I couldn't figure out how to cut out queen cells from the bottom of the frame with the cell attached to the frame itself, without disturbing the queen inside. Now I'm thinking I should go back in and at least try cutting out at least another couple of cells and attempt a third split.

Should I knock down extra cells I won't be using for splits, save for 2 to avoid excess virgin swarms?
 

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I'd delete all but two in the bottom of the hive. Sometimes virgins can squeeze through a queen excluder so you queen cell in the top may not be safe, but with that much distance it between it and the bottom it may be ok. I would only leave two below the excluder to prevent secondary swarms.
With sealed queen cells in the hive, you've probably had at least one (prime) swarm, hence the decreased number of bees and queen.
Good luck with the splits!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for the encouragement, everybody. Dang I am SORE. I first had to build equipment: 2 stands, 2 shims for my Allen beetle traps, 2 3-chambered queen castles, division boards for said castles (I made extra for future castles), and 8 inner covers with screened feeding holes for the castles (and 2 for another dual-chambered setup where I'd been using feedbags as a temporary measure but got stung every dang time I pulled those off). THEN it was time to go see what was left of the cells, if any. Most were torn down. I saw one had emerged, the rest chewed out from the sides in the top supers. Just like GaryG74 said, I did not see the virgin queen in the top chamber so she might've slipped down below (didn't know that could happen but duly noted). BUT I did manage to find and cut out 4 untouched queen cells, so I filled out one of those spiffy new castles with 3 splits and put a 4th split in the center chamber of other castle. I took some honey off the reduced hive, but left things alone down in the deep. So if all goes well, I may end up having 5 colonies where I had only one. Thank you for encouraging me to do more with the splits! But man, am I sore after being Joe Carpenter in 95 degrees all weekend, on the floor of his carport making the most out of a circular saw. I saw bees orienting to the new digs in the castle chambers, and all sucked down their 1:1 in no time. And all were guarding their little 1/2-inch hole entrances. :)
 

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Look up
FALSE SWARM
And see if it's nit too late


IMHO
At least One of your box's will swarm

Hope I'm wrong
 
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