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Will a hive that is intent on swarming do it with or without a queen cell? What would happen if a hive were consistently inspected every 7 days and any queen cells were removed? Theoretically would this prevent swarming?
 

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Rob, it is my understanding that a hive intent on swarming will always produce swarm cells prior to doing so. Does not make much sense from a reproductive perspective if they didn't. However, removing swarm cells will not prevent the swarm. Removing extra cells may prevent secondary swarming though. The best way to minimize the urge to swarm without spliting is to use a double screen board, Snellgrove board, to upset the age balance within the hive. If the urge tro swarm is due to crowding, opening up the brood nest a bit may prevent it. I prefer to split out the queen and a good number of bees into a nuc or 10 frame single. That pretty much stops them cold.
 

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Say you have a brood chamber/box full of bees. No room for queen to lay. Instead of opening up the sides of the brood chamber OSBN will putting honey supers on relive the urge to swarm if there are no queen cells. Wondering because i have a hive that is full but no queen cells yet. But with my climate i think it is to early to split. Its my understanding once the queen cup becomes a capped cell the only way to prevent the swam is to split.
 

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Sickdog, the hive will usually swarm as soon as the cell is capped so do not wait for that to occur. Once the bees make swarm cells, not cups, it is not too early to split. Or at least the bees don't think so. Leave the started cells and make the split with the queen. A drawn super may help, undrawn will not. Add another box and move a few of the frames upstairs. Matt has a drawing showing optimal placement on his thread. I hived a nuc earlier this spring into a 10 frame and I think they swarmed with two and a half frames in the box untouched.
 

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Will a hive that is intent on swarming do it with or without a queen cell? What would happen if a hive were consistently inspected every 7 days and any queen cells were removed? Theoretically would this prevent swarming?
You could prevent swarming this way as long as during those inspections you were able to cut EVERY swarm cell. Bees have a knack for hiding some cells in corners and places you might not expect. Add the issue of finding all of those cells when there are 50,000+ bees in the hive....and sooner or later one will likely get overlooked. And that is all it takes..
 

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Theoretically would this prevent swarming?
If you do the math, the answer is no.

Assuming a swarm waits until there is a capped queen cell before leaving, a 7 day gap is too long.

Let's say on a Sunday you go through the hive and successfully remove every queen cell. After packing it up the bees start new queen cells on 1 day old larvae. By Friday, those queen cells are capped. When you go back into the hive again on Sunday the swarm is already gone.

Now the dangerous part. You cut all of those queen cells out again. There are still a few young larvae left in the hive from eggs the queen laid before swarming so the bees start building new queen cells, but you don't realize the queen left with a swarm. You go back in the following week and cut out all the queen cells again. Now the hive has no eggs or young larvae to raise new queens from and they are hopelessly queenless.
 

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After packing it up the bees start new queen cells on 1 day old larvae.
Are you suggesting that, although still queenright, the colony begins making emergency queen cells after removing the initial swarm cells?
Or am I confused? (not uncommon)
 

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Guess I didn't explain it clearly.
After removing the first round of queen cells on Sunday, I'm assuming that by Friday new queen cells are capped and the swarm leaves the hive. Two days later, Sunday, I go back in to remove queen cells when one week has passed since my first queen cell culling. Seeing young larvae and perhaps some eggs, I believe the queen is still in the hive. But she is already gone with the swarm.

When I have removed those cells the bees will start new queen cells again because the mother queen with the swarm has already been out of the hive for a couple of days. This will be the last round of queen cells the colony will be able to make. If I go back in again the following week to remove those queen cells, and I'm not paying attention to the lack of larvae or eggs, I will make this colony hopelessly queenless.

Going a step further on a shorter timeline, if the queen had already swarmed just before I do the first queen cell removal and I didn't realize it, if I go back and remove queen cells again after one week I will have probably killed my hive.
 

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Are you suggesting that, although still queenright, the colony begins making emergency queen cells after removing the initial swarm cells?
Or am I confused? (not uncommon)
After rereading I guess I'm confused and not understanding the question. It's been my experience that during peak swarm season if I cut out swarm cells the colony will immediately begin to build queen cells again, with or without the queen present.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This all makes sense. It was a theoretical question. I'm always check for a queen and/or eggs before doing anything like removing queen cells.
 

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My comments are theoretical as well, based on 7 day periods. Some new beekeepers might believe that continual removal of queen cells is the answer to swarm prevention. Just wanted to express some red flags to be aware of.
 

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After packing it up the bees start new queen cells on 1 day old larvae.
I don’t claim to be an expert but I’ve read that a developing queen cell is capped around day 8. I’ve also read that a swarm typically doesn’t leave the hive until the queen begins to pupate. Although going back in at day 7 is cutting it pretty close, it should work by my math.
It is your supposition that the queen cell would be capped 5 days after cutting the swarm cells is what I don’t understand. Certainly, if the colony began making emergency cells after the swarm cell cutting….that would make sense. But this isn’t typical in my experience.
Is there something here I'm missing?
 

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My comments are theoretical as well, based on 7 day periods. Some new beekeepers might believe that continual removal of queen cells is the answer to swarm prevention. Just wanted to express some red flags to be aware of.
I always advise beekeepers not use swarm cell cutting as a management tool. The bees will persist in starting again. And the beekeeper must be equally persistent. I haven’t seen anyone who is successful doing this on any scale.
Having said that, it is in my opinion, possible to do so on a 7 day cycle….going in like clockwork every 7 days regardless of the weather and never missing a cell. Not something I could do.
 

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Certainly, if the colony began making emergency cells after the swarm cell cutting….that would make sense. But this isn’t typical in my experience.
That is the supposition I was working with, worst case scenario. One week intervals might be too much time.

Maybe it's a regional variation but our swarm season here is pretty intense. If the colony is bent on swarming and I cut the swarm cells out, they don't waste too much time starting new queen cells.

Either way it's interesting to think about.
 

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The 8 day timing is based on egg laid date until cap date. So if you knock down all cells and return 7 days later, if the queen laid in queen cups again then you would catch them one day before capping. If, as Mike Gillmore suggested, they raise emergency cells then they could be capped in 5 days assuming they started with 1 day old larva. I'm doubtful if they have a laying queen that they would start emergency cells, more likely they would swarm anyway if they were really bent on it, cells or not, and the remaining bees would start emergency cells. In my experience emergency cells are just that, all the same age, and done because there aren't any other options.
 

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I don’t claim to be an expert but I’ve read that a developing queen cell is capped around day 8. I’ve also read that a swarm typically doesn’t leave the hive until the queen begins to pupate. Although going back in at day 7 is cutting it pretty close, it should work by my math.
It is your supposition that the queen cell would be capped 5 days after cutting the swarm cells is what I don’t understand. Certainly, if the colony began making emergency cells after the swarm cell cutting….that would make sense. But this isn’t typical in my experience.
Is there something here I'm missing?
yes 8 days is from the egg being laid, so a 1 day old Larvae is really "4 days" old from egg, so in 7 days you could have a 11 day old queen cell if started from a 2 day old larvae. egg hatches in 3 days. queen takes 16 total
 

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>Will a hive that is intent on swarming do it with or without a queen cell? What would happen if a hive were consistently inspected every 7 days and any queen cells were removed? Theoretically would this prevent swarming?

Theoretically. But in reality, my experience is they will end up swarming (probably because you missed a cell that was under a lot of bees or camouflaged in some way) and they will end up hopelessly queenless.
 

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Rob, it is my understanding that a hive intent on swarming will always produce swarm cells prior to doing so. Does not make much sense from a reproductive perspective if they didn't. However, removing swarm cells will not prevent the swarm. Removing extra cells may prevent secondary swarming though. The best way to minimize the urge to swarm without spliting is to use a double screen board, Snellgrove board, to upset the age balance within the hive. If the urge tro swarm is due to crowding, opening up the brood nest a bit may prevent it. I prefer to split out the queen and a good number of bees into a nuc or 10 frame single. That pretty much stops them cold.
Could you elaborate on the use of a DSB to prevent swarming?
 
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