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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a package where the queen is not productive and I found a capped supersedure cell on the frame. Is it possible to remove the old queen (provided the supersedure cell is capped) and put her in a queenless nuc as a backup in case another queen dies later on from another hive?
 

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Might need to go back a few steps.

How old is the package? I ask because often new packages immediately go into superscedure. The reasons are debated but it's likely due to her not being a laying queen at the time of acceptance (since she's been caged*) and as they were stressed by being shook into a box and shipped around, only to be thrown into a box, they often blame the queen. It could be that nothing is wrong with your queen at all. As such, when I first see superscedure cells I often knock them down for the first month or so. If they continue to build them then I know it's something deeper and should be addressed.

You mentioned the queen wasn't doing well? What lead you to that conclusion, if I may ask?

As such, you could either knock down the cells and see if they make them again, or you could certainly take some brood and nurse bees into a split leaving the superscedure cell behind. However, if this is a newer package they likely aren't strong enough to be split out just yet and doing so may put them back several months. My vote would be to knock down the cell and give the queen a chance.

*Commercial operations also pull queens every 14 days. The queen may have only been laying for a couple days when forced to stop laying. As it takes about 30 days for a queen to fully develop her pheromones, acceptance on these queens can be low.
 

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Keep the supersedure cells. Give them the ability to make new cells if they don't like those. I had 3 packages that superseded at different times around the end of the main spring flow (with lots of food). There was little or no brood in a hive. It looked like the queen stopped laying. I took 1 frame with eggs and the right larvae from each laying hive and add it to the failing one. I also cut cocoons because the potential queen cell larvae were in old comb. It would have been easier if they were in new comb. What's the name of this queen rearing method? I checked the frames I added right before the queen hatch day. They had huge queen cells. I distributed them so each hive had at least 2 queen cells. A month later, the failed hive was laying, and the other hives looked queenless. I did the same thing. All 3 hives had laying queens before winter.

Its a good time to make mating nucs.
 

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I wouldn't move the queen I would move the capped Queen cell. And if the queen is failing they'll make another queen cell
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I wouldn't move the queen I would move the capped Queen cell. And if the queen is failing they'll make another queen cell
If they already don't like they existing queen, and the supersedure queen is close to emerging, why not remove the old queen?
 

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Did anyone even read my post? Lol

If the package is new it's far too young to be splitting with so little brood and resources. As is, packages have huge number drops as they build up their first round of brood.

Adding the need to raise a queen, hoping she mates and starts laying only to them wait another 21 days just for workers to start emerging puts the colony back months!

The OP should start with the easiest thing first. Knock down the cells and give the queen a chance. If they keep drawing superscedure cells then contact the seller and get a replacement. Maybe let them know now what's happening.

Again, it's not uncommon for packages to superscede their queen. Give the queen a chance before doing your best to kill the colony.
 

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I disagree with mtnmyke's advice. The queen is probably going to die. That's why they are superseding. Now could be the best time for them to make queens. It is here. If they fail, you can combine the colony. With an unknown number of hives, consider making mating nucs. Account for the probability of mating failures, and make a few more hives than you will winter.

Michael Bush agrees with me here.
 

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Yes, I completely agree with him.

"With supersedure cells, I leave them because the bees apparently have found the queen wanting and I trust the bees."

HOWEVER, as I already stated twice, bees often blame the queen for all the trauma they experience as a package. As soon as the queen starts laying they go into superscedure mode, even if the queen is perfectly fine. This is experience from installing hundreds of packages.

Again as stated, if you knock down the cells and they continue to draw cells then they are indeed telling me there is a problem where you can let them raise a new queen, or get a replacement.

I'm not disagreeing with you, just stating that this situation has different circumstances than a healthy established hive.

If it were established and they were supersceding then let them requeen, absolutely.

Also, if you missed the part where I go over timing in my last post. The colony will be absolutely tiny with very old bees in it by the time a package can raise a new queen and she can get a round of brood out.

So you can disagree but consider the whole picture. This isn't an established hive. It's a package.
 

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Many times a package does not have a balanced age of bees in it, usually not enough nurse bees, and the queen will get blamed for there not being any or enough brood in the hive. They might think she's failing as there isn't any brood, or enough brood being produced, as there may not be enough younger nurse bees in the package. I would pinch the cells and add a frame of emerging brood from another hive in my yard. Of course it could be the queen is not well mated or not strong enough pheromones to her, in which case they may continue to try to supercede her, but I'd start by destroying cells and adding a frame of actively emerging brood.
 

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If they already don't like they existing queen, and the supersedure queen is close to emerging, why not remove the old queen?
Started from a package, so weak colony by definition from the get go. If you remove the queen and allow the supercedure to continue, then they will go approximately two weeks without any eggs. Older bees are dying off, and if you remove the queen, that means 3 weeks from now there will be no young bees emerging. So your weak colony will become even weaker.

If the package queen really needs to be replaced, then replace her with a mated queen. But if they are superceeding due to things like trauma from moving and a poor mix of age in the population, then simply pinching the cells and let time do it's magic will cure the colony.

The detail of beekeeping that most folks tend to miss, what you do today effects the population 3 weeks from now, when all the brood currently in progress has emerged. The important detail left out of the original post, when was the package put in the box ? For the first 4 weeks after hiving a package, things are not 'normal' for a bee colony, and during that period starting a supercedure is common, it's how the bees react when 'things get bad'. But if you look at the reality, the queen in there was likely raised under close to ideal conditions by somebody that is an expert in rearing large numbers of queens, she is likely a fairly good queen. Allowing them to complete the supercedure you are getting a crap shoot queen raised by a weak colony in conditions anything but ideal.

After doing this for a bunch of years, I've changed my view on package queens. In 95 out of a hundred cases, the queen that came in the package will be a better raised queen that what the package can produce itself before it's been in the box for a couple months and grown to full size.

If the colony has as much brood as the package bees can cover, then I would just continue pinching cells until the population starts to expand. For a package that was put onto drawn comb, it's very normal for them to have a couple sheets of capped brood, but almost no eggs after two weeks. They have all the brood they can support, and even if the queen lays more eggs, they cant cover that comb area, so they cant keep temps correct for a larger nest. With little / no eggs, folks mistake that for a 'poor queen', when in fact she is a good queen, but there simply isn't the population to support a larger nest. With a fresh new package on drawn comb it will take 3 brood cycles before they have enough bees to support a full size brood nest.

You really cannot honestly judge a queen from a package till they have been in the hive for more than 2 months and have had time to grow the population large enough to support a proper size brood nest that has brood in all stages of development from egg to emerging bee.
 

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*Commercial operations also pull queens every 14 days. The queen may have only been laying for a couple days when forced to stop laying. As it takes about 30 days for a queen to fully develop her pheromones, acceptance on these queens can be low.
We are on the same page here, but, a package is a 'special case'. The bees are by definition 'hopelessly queenless', so they will accept the caged queen readily. As well, she probably travelled with them in the package, so, by the time you are hiving them, they have already accepted her as their queen.
 

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We are on the same page here, but, a package is a 'special case'. The bees are by definition 'hopelessly queenless', so they will accept the caged queen readily. As well, she probably travelled with them in the package, so, by the time you are hiving them, they have already accepted her as their queen.
I'm not talking about them "getting along" but acceptance in that she's worth keeping around.

But we're on the same page!

 

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You really cannot honestly judge a queen from a package till they have been in the hive for more than 2 months and have had time to grow the population large enough to support a proper size brood nest that has brood in all stages of development from egg to emerging bee.
This has been my point all along. Give the queen a chance before risking the colony's health.
 
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