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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there,

I'm a first year beekeeper in upstate NY. Bought two 3 lb packages each with a queen on 4/26/14 from Sam Comfort - treatment free, small cell bees.

Installed them into 8 frame medium hive bodies with a mixture of empty starter comb from Sam, some frames with full foundation and some with foundation strips. (Goal is to be foundationless, but I put in some foundation to try to keep them straight - some of the starter comb was a little wonky - the combs are now straight enough I think). I fed them 1:1 sugar syrup in a bucket feeder above the inner cover until 6/29 - today (in retrospect, I think that was too long).

5/11/14 They had 6 out of 8 frames filled with comb in the first medium hive body, I added a second medium hive body.

6/12/14 The second hive body had 6 out 8 frames drawn, I added a third. This third hive body has the least foundation yet - only 2 frames with foundation. The other 6 frames had popsicle stick guides and no foundation.

6/19/14
- Hive A inspection: a few swarm cups, starting to draw out foundation on those 2 frames in upper (3rd) hive body but no comb on any of the foundationless frames, great brood pattern I thought in 2 lower hive bodies, saw the queen.
- Hive B inspection: no swarm cups seen (I certainly could have missed them!), same as hive A. Also saw queen.

6/29/14
- Hive A inspection: I removed sugar syrup. No additional comb in the 3rd/top hive body (only 2 frames with comb). Nectar in almost every cell that I think should have had an egg or larvae in it, no eggs, the smallest larvae I would guess are maybe 2 days old (5 days from being laid as egg). Two swarm cells - I think one was capped and the other open.
- Hive B inspection: Same as hive A except youngest larvae maybe 3 days old (6 days from being laid as egg). And two capped supersedure cells, one capped swarm cell.

Both hives: I swapped some frames with brood/food from lower hive bodies with some foundationless frames with no comb in upper hive body. Did this because I saw a video with Dee Lusby working her hives and she was moving brood frames up into boxes that only had food in them to get the queen to move up. I was also thinking of one of the beek classes I took that talked about "opening" the brood chamber to prevent swarming. It's too late for that, but I'd like to prevent secondary and tertiary swarms, if I can. And really, I just want to do the right thing for the bees.

I don't think I killed both queens at my last inspection (that was my first fear when I opened both hives & realized there was no laying queen).
I think Hive A swarmed - I fed too long, didn't open up the brood chambers, they didn't want to start the foundationless frames and felt crowded.
I think Hive B superseded - same as above, plus the bees wanted a new queen.

I think I'm going to let them raise new queens.

So, my questions are:
1) let them raise new queens or buy mated queens and get them in there and laying?
2) do you think my assessment is right?
3) what can I do better next time?

Thanks so much! Want to do the best I can for the bees.

hive A swarm cell 1.jpg hive A swarm cell 2.jpg hive B queen cells.jpg
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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>1) let them raise new queens or buy mated queens and get them in there and laying?

You have good treatment free stock. I would not buy a queen.

>2) do you think my assessment is right?

No. A colony has only one goal when they raise queens. Either they are all swarm cells or they are all supersedure cells. Considering the small number, I'll guess supersedure although the constant feeding can cause a small hive to swarm and then they don't tend to have a lot of cells.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfallacies.htm#swarmcellsonbottom

>3) what can I do better next time?

Constant feeding is likely to make them swarm. That may be the root of the problem. Or they may just have decided it was time to replace the queen.
 

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agree with Michael on this one I don't feed packages only what they come with in the package unless I open the package and the can of 1:1 sugar is empty then I fill it up and place it in with them after I install them placed in a empty box on top with spacers under the can so they can access it with news paper all around the can so they can't get above the can. once can is empty I don't feed again. now just before fall I check for the honey stores they have and since this is your first hives you may have to feed accordingly.
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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When package bees come and when things start blooming varies form year to year. If nothing is blooming I feed them until things are blooming. If things are blooming, I usually do like franktrujilo and just give them what came with the package. If it's a rainy spring I might feed them until they have some capped honey. But that's all assuming you only have the packages. I have bees so I give them some capped honey and don't feed them at all...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
So now I think they're kinda honey bound (or nectar bound) at this point. I put 2 open frames (foundationless) into each 8 frame medium. Is that enough space? Someone recommended putting a whole hive body of frames between the bottom two. Another person suggested extracting some nectar/honey just to open some comb for the bees - giving the wet frames back to them to clean up & use.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
So I did brief inspections on both hives today. Each has a virgin queen and each was piping. Each hive has more capped queen cells. Neither hive drew out the foundationless frames I put in between the combs. I swapped out the foundationless frames for foundation frames. I added a hive body with foundation into each hive in between the other hive bodies. Both hives at this point have no eggs or larvae, only capped brood & lotsa food. Would love to hear how I could do better managing this. Thanks!
 

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Hey BA. Thanks for posting those pics. Sorry about your queen troubles. Im new so I Can't give advice, but I would like to ask about the weather conditions during the whole process. If you don't mind sharing.
 
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