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Day before yesterday I had a colony cast a swarm. I saw the swarm start to depart, but because the queen was clipped and could not fly, the swarm clustered under the screened bottom board. I removed the boxes from the SBB and hived the swarm and then checked the original colony for queen cells.

The colony was in a medium on the bottom board and 2 deeps above. There was 5 frames of brood in the medium, 6 frames of brood in the middle deep and 3 frames of brood in the top deep. All other frames were full of food stores. The brood was eggs, unsealed larvae in all stages, and sealed brood. The adult population left in the colony would cover the frames in the medium super only, and when I looked for queen cells I could find none. I checked all brood frames twice and then closed the colony.

I checked the swarm for the original queen, found her, and put her in a 5 frame nuc box with a frame of brood and 5 frames of bees. I sealed the nuc to take it to another yard. I then put the adult bees back into the original hive and closed it. Yesterday I checked the colony again for queen cells, and this time I was able to find 2 uncapped cells with larvae that appeared to be 48 hours or less from egg hatch. This means the swarm left the colony when the eggs hatched and not when there were capped queen cells in the colony. I can not remember ever seeing this happen before. I have always been of the opinion that swarms would leave anytime after the first cell was capped and the first virgin started to emerge.

Has anybody ever seen a swarm leave a colony when the swarm cells were this young?
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