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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was doing what I had hoped to be one of my last inspections on a hive today and found queen cells present. There were at least a few, which I found along the bottom bar, uncapped but with larvae and gobs of jelly inside. When I looked in the hive, there was both capped and uncapped brood. I can't say I saw eggs, but that doesn't mean they weren't there of course.

This is a hive with which I had combined a 10 frame med. nuc 2 weeks ago, via the newspaper method. Both the original hive and the nuc were queenright at the time. The total stack now is 3 mediums with a feeder on top. I just wanted to combine the nuc, so I didn't have to worry about it all winter. I hope I didn't shoot myself in the foot.

I'm not sure what their motivation is at this point, as it seems way too late to swarm, and even too late for them to get a new supercedure queen mated and laying for winter. But I guess my real question is what, if anything, should I do about it?

Thanks in advance for bailing me out for the thousandth time.
-Dan
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
So, if I requeened w/ a mated queen, how I go about that? Just wait for a single queen to emerge from the mess, pinch her, and replace her? The point being to skip the whole maturing and mating process?

Could I just pinch whatever queen I have right now, cut all cells, and introduce a mated queen? ...it almost pained me to type that. It's so contrary to how I would normally manage a hive, but they really threw me for a loop by starting queen cells at this time of year.

Thanks, Dan
 

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so the cells appeared in which part of the combined two hives? upper or lower part... or the strong vs the weaker part of the combine?

I should mention to you that not all queen cells started actually emerge and that sometimes bee keeper manipulations will create the urge for some hives to construct superscedure cells... which in most cases a young vigorous queen will destroy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The cells were found in the lower part of the hive (the part that was previously a full-size hive), and not the "nuc" part. The queen in that lower part was the younger of the two.

Are you saying the existing queen in that hive may destroy those cells, even though the bees were able to get a good start (meaning developing queen inside, though uncapped)? I'd love "leave it alone" to be the answer, but I'll do what it takes!

-Dan
 

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If I understood you correctly, you merged the two hives without removing either queen in the process. If that is correct, until proven otherwise (by seeing a queen or new eggs somewhere inside) I would assume that the two "fought it out" and both lost. In that case, Iddee's suggestion is the only way you'll save the hive (based on your saying that the season is too late in your area for a successful mating).
BUT, if you do find a queen or new eggs, it would probably be best to hold on to her and cut out the queen cells. In that case, you'd do well to collect the royal jelly and freeze it till you want to use it for your own queen rearing in the spring (or whenever).
 

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I do think efmesch makes a very valid point above and is the first thinh you should do prior to any other action.

a Dan snip..
Are you saying the existing queen in that hive may destroy those cells, even though the bees were able to get a good start (meaning developing queen inside, though uncapped)? I'd love "leave it alone" to be the answer, but I'll do what it takes!

tecumseh:
the old queen will sometimes tear queen cells but this is normally at the very end of the queen rearing (cell) process. it is only once the queen in the cell are mature enough to turn in their cells that an existing queen (or virgin queen) will murder the developing pupae.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Tec, that's fascinating. Is that because the queens in the cells will then answer her "piping"?

I think I'd follow efmesch's advice, too. The question is: if there is no queen (or eggs indicating a queen), should I then cut all cells and introduce a bought mated queen?

I'm on-board with that plan, but this beeyard is away from my house, and I'm not sure when I'm going to be able to get to it. It really pains me (literally) to know that something important needs to be done out at the apiary, and life's hectic schedule keeps me from it. Oh well, I will do my best to do what needs to be done, and spend the rest of my time worrying about it.

-Dan
 

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Queen cells along the bottom or outer edge are usually swarm cells. Swarms cast this late do not fare well in cooler climates like yours. It might be best to remove them. A healthy queen/hive generates swarm cells. That is reproduction in superorganisms. It makes no sense to replace a good healthy queen with one of unknown abilities.
 

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If you remove swarm cells after they have decided to swarm, they will swarm anyway, leaving the hive queenless and no way to make a new one.

NEVER REMOVE SWARM CELLS. If you do anything when you have swarm cells, remove the queen into a nuc and keep her for awhile, then re-install her.
 

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Iddee:

When you remove a queen for a while, and then re-introduce her, will the bees remember her?
What if they've hatched a new queen in the meantime?
 

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If they have a new queen, you decide which one to terminate.
She must be installed as you would a purchased queen. In a cage for a few days. They will not remember her.
 

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For what's it's worth, Drones are still flying here in SW New Jersey. We probably have the same weather as SE PA. 10 day forcast has sunshine and temps in the 60's and 70's. Lot's of asters in bloom and my bees are foraging heavily when the sun is out. Still may be time for a queen to get mated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Iddee: "NEVER REMOVE SWARM CELLS. If you do anything when you have swarm cells, remove the queen into a nuc and keep her for awhile, then re-install her."

That's my usual M.O. I'm afraid it's too late in the year to mess around with all that, though. Actually, that's exactly what happened to this hive earlier- I saw swarm cells, split the old queen off in a nuc, waited, and recombined. Only I didn't "get rid of" either queen, and let them duke it out. I still think it's a good technique, only this time it just resulted in more queen cells after recombining.

Iddee- hypothetically, if these were just supercedure cells, would it then be a good move to cut them? The idea being to preserve an otherwise decent queen, and skip the lag of waiting for a new queen to mature, mate, etc. (unfortunately, these were classically placed "swarm cells" along the bottom bar).

Eddy Honey- now you've really got me conflicted. I did see a few drones in my other hive, but certainly a dwindling population. There were a bunch in the hive in question, but what do you expect, they're raising a queen. My local forecast looks like highs varying in the upper to lower 60's for the next week or so.

I'm about to throw my hands in the air, and go with my new guideline: "When in doubt, do nothing. The bees probably know better than me anyway".

-Dan
 

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With all due respect to Iddee's opinion, in post#10, I don't agree. If you see a queen or eggs in the hive and want to keep her, eliminate any queen cells--no matter where. I find it very hard to believe that a swarm would leave a hive at this time of the year. [If you want to be doubly sure she doesn't swarm, clip her wing. She won't get far--but that could be a theoretical problem with a hive not near your home, that can't be watched easily.]

If you don't see signs of a queen and if there are drones in the hives and the weather forecast is decent, they'll find a virgin queen on the wing.
 

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at this time of year I would suspect superscedure or emergency cells long before swarm cells.

given Eddy's report that he still has drones I would also suggest that collecting more information is now more appropriate than any action plan. although locating some possible replacement queen as Iddee suggest would provide for some back up if things didn't work out.

as an alternative to cover all bases since the existing hive has been doubled up you could remove a small nuc with some started queen cells and leave the existing hive alone. you could then recombine later if necessary. at this time of year doing this with a double screen (essentially leaving the nuc on the top of the existing hive) might have some obvious advantages.

Dan writes
Is that because the queens in the cells will then answer her "piping"?

tecumseh:
I don't really know Dan beyond the fact that queens and virgin queens will only destroy cells once they are approaching emergence. it could be piping or it could be some movement of the queen pupae in their cells. I think that even the books are a bit blurring on the why here.
 

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""With all due respect to Iddee's opinion, in post#10, I don't agree.""

You didn't disagree with me at all. I'm not convinced this particular hive has swarm cells, either. All queen cells are not swarm cells.

I was speaking in general, since many may read this in the spring when swarm cells are prevalent. I have seen and heard of too many hives being lost by removing swarm cells.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Quick update, for those who care...

I went to check on this hive late last week. I was prepared to cut cells, call to order a queen, anything depending on what I saw in there.

I think what I found was the best-case scenario. All of the cells I had seen earlier were torn down. I could not tell if any of them looked like a queen had emerged, or if they had just been chewed into. I did see eggs and larvae of all ages, which leads me to believe the old queen just kept on truckin' along and eliminated the "supersedure attempts" when the time was right. I'm going to not overthink it, and just be happy that I have a laying queen, no queen cells, and all seems right in the hive again.

Thanks for all the advice, especially all the "just wait"s.

-Dan
 
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