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I made the first inspection of the year and did not expect to find such an excessive number of bees in my two deep boxes in a hive I started from a 3lb package last year. Even the dry frames were covered as thickly as the brood and honey frames. I believe they are mostly nurse bees because the traffic of foragers is slightly less than it was at its peak last year. The large number of bees is tempting me to do a 3 way split and there is one supercedure cell and one swarm cell. I noticed that the brood pattern was not tight and I wonder whether the queen stopped laying. However, I have read on this site, and elsewhere, that splits need to be done before the queen cells are capped. I always thought it was the other way around and now need to know why I need to wait untill queen cells are capped before a split is made. Is there a simple explanation? Thank you.
 

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If the queen cells (swarm cells) are capped it's a good chance the hives has already swarmed. If i read you right? you have two queen cells, if only two cells they are probably supersede cells. If swarm cells there would be many cells on the bottom of the frames. I have made splits with capped and uncapped queen cells, i don't think it makes any difference, i think for those that have never made splits, it would be better to use a bred (bought) queen if your wanting to increase your hives.
 

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If the QC's are swarm cells, the first (prime) swarm leaves with the old queen as soon as the first cell is capped. So, if you wait until a cell is capped you will lose the original queen. Could there be more queen cells? Before the swarm, the bees start backfilling the brood nest with nectar and the queen has a smaller area to lay in which may be why you are not seeing a tight brood pattern. The large number of bees and time of year would make it seem like those are swarm cells except that there should be many more of them. Placement of the QC's doesn't necessarily indicate swarm vs supersedure and I don't think they would do both at the same time anyway.

IMO, splits are easy and very versital. More chance of success than introducing a new queen. Read Michael Bush's website on splits. Take away the old queen on a frame plus a frame or two of brood and a frame or two of honey and pollen along with adhering bees. The hive will think it has swarmed. Then take one of the frames with a QC and a frame or two of honey and pollen & bees. Taking more frames and bees with each split is better for the splits, but will cut down on the amount of honey you will get from the original hive. With your flow coming soon, you success should be easy.

Good luck.
 

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>The large number of bees is tempting me to do a 3 way split and there is one supercedure cell and one swarm cell.

No, there is not. You are probably designating them by location. But no hive has one of each. They are designated by motivation. There is either two swarm cells or two supersedure cells and two swarm cells would be very unlikely so I would say two supersedure cells.

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

>I noticed that the brood pattern was not tight and I wonder whether the queen stopped laying. However, I have read on this site, and elsewhere, that splits need to be done before the queen cells are capped.

If they were swarm cells, but I don't think they are because of the number, then you want to split them before they are capped because shortly after that they will swarm.
 

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>There is either two swarm cells or two supersedure cells and two swarm cells would be very unlikely so I would say two supersedure cells.
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If they were swarm cells, but I don't think they are because of the number . . .
For a healthy hive in swarm mode, what is the typical number of swarm cells one can expect to see?

And, for an otherwise healthy hive in supercedure mode, what is the typical number of supercedure cells one can expect to see?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
If the queen cells (swarm cells) are capped it's a good chance the hives has already swarmed. If i read you right? you have two queen cells, if only two cells they are probably supersede cells. If swarm cells there would be many cells on the bottom of the frames. I have made splits with capped and uncapped queen cells, i don't think it makes any difference, i think for those that have never made splits, it would be better to use a bred (bought) queen if your wanting to increase your hives.
Thank you for your response. When inspecting, I neglected to use a brush to move bees away from points of interest and instead blew on them. They moved away from the supercedure cell and looking at a photo I took, it appears capped from the angle the photo was taken. However, as for what I believe to be a swarm cell, I took no photos and am clueless. There are more bees in my two brood boxes than I have ever seen in any Youtube video or anywhere else on the net. The congestion needs to be relieved and if I don't split, I'll be a newbee forever. I'm just going to do it and come back to update this thread with what went right or wrong.
 

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Why not add a super it will reduce congestion, allow the supercedure to complete, and promote honey production. you can always do a split after the supercedure, when you have a good laying queen.
 

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>For a healthy hive in swarm mode, what is the typical number of swarm cells one can expect to see?

12 - 30 but in a constantly fed small hive forced to be honey bound, it could be less.

> And, for an otherwise healthy hive in supercedure mode, what is the typical number of supercedure cells one can expect to see?

One or two isn't unheard of. I usually don't see more than five or six, but it could go higher in a stronger hive. Usually, though, supersedures are not in a stronger hive.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yes, I could have missed a number of swarm cells because rainy weather was approaching and I had to speed the inspection up. But I did take the following picture which appears to be that of a supercedure cell.
TerkQCell.jpg
As for the other cell, I never had a good look at it because I needed to hurry up before it began raining. The clouds looked like a downpour was inevitable. But, considering what Michael Bush said about supercedure cells are not found in hives along with swarm cells, I should be safe, I hope. Yet if the bees built a supercedure cell, could they perhaps build another one, if they need to, after I do a split?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Great idea Tenbears. Adding a super is exactly what I need to do. But I keep wondering about the bees building a second supercedure cell if a split is made. Sometimes bees make supercedure cells when there is nothing wrong with the queen.
 

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Terk, While many swarm cells are on the bottom of the frames, it is normal for some to be in the center of the frame as well like in your picture. Since you said you did not get a chance to inspect the hive well and since it is such a populous hive, I think there is a good possibility that the queen cells you saw are swarm cells and not supercedure cells. The hive has probably already swarmed with the old queen. You could move frames with queen cells to other deeps or nuc boxes as splits. Do it soon-before the queens start to emerge.

Let us know what you find on your next inspection.
 

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Usually telling swarm cells from supersedure cells is not too difficult if you've had enough experience at watching hives build up and swarm or dwindle and supersede and you're paying attention to the direction the hive is taking. Then you take into account the number of cells, the range of ages of the cells (supersedure cells are all approximately the same age, while swarm cells are staggered in age) and the location (swarm cells TEND to be on the bottom and supersedure cells TEND to be in the middle). Looking at all of that it's often obvious. Occasionally it's not obvious. When every one of those clues is kind of on the fence, sometimes you just hedge your bets. If you put the old queen in a nuc with a split you can watch and see what happens and recombine if needed.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you Michael for your solid advice. When I initially posted after a hurried up inspection, I thought that I needed to do a split. Boy, was I wrong! Yesterday's inspection revealed dry (empty) comb after I smoked the bees out of the way. The sparse and spotty capped brood of last week is gone and there is absolutely no capped brood. Lots of bees at the moment, but no upcoming generation, and no queen that I could find, and no capped queen cells. HELP! I tried to post 15 photos in an earlier reply to you, but it never got onto the forum. I'm going to retry by posting 3 photos per reply. They are QC1 through QC13 and two dry frame shots. I wish I can save the hive and upload photos of thriving bees in the future from this hive.
Thank you Michael.
Terk
QC1.jpg
QC2.jpg
QC3.JPG
 

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You have some emerged cells. You probably have a virgin queen. She will likely be laying in two weeks and at the most three weeks. Either they were declining and they superseded the queen, the old queen died, and they raised an emergency queen, or they already swarmed. Those look like emergency cells to me.
 

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Many of your photos are only of "queen cell cups" and not actual queen cells, though you show some queen cells where the virgins have emerged, but only one or two that seem to have been damaged by virgin queens. Not much of an age spread, as would be for most swarming prep.

Either they are in the process of supersedure or they have already swarmed. Since there is no brood, it is fairly sure they have no viable mated/laying queen. If everything is working properly they have a virgin in process of becoming their new productive queen. If, after three weeks, and still no worker brood, other actions should be taken. However, if you have hives that can donate combs of worker eggs, it would be good to provide some to the queenless colony. If they promptly begin growing new queen cells from the donated brood, somehow they lost their developing virgin and need to replace her.

I hope this thread has given you some inkling as to why splits work best before queen cells are capped.
 
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