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Destroy queen cells and they just build new ones. Then it is 2 weeks nearer to winter in Pa. Do your original plan, and NEVER, NEVER, destroy a queen cell.
 

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The first queen to come out will usually destroy all other cells. But the first out might not have grown under optimal conditions (crowded, less food, etc.). You might make a better choice than FIFA (first in, first out).
I don't completely agree with Iddee here--but consider his advice as solid.
 

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The bees will judge the queen and will not let an inferior one destroy other cells. The queen has less say there than most folks think. How many swarms have you caught with 2, 3, or even 4 virgin queens in it? The cells don't always get destroyed.
 

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Primary concern: so do you think you still have the season to get a queen mated and laying?

what I might or might not do with the cells would be somewhat determined by the genetic material represented in the hive. if the genetic stock is undesirable I might cull every visible cell. if on the other hand the genetic stock was highly desirable I would be figuring out some way to utilize each cell in some form or fashion.

if you can overwinter in nucs at your location??? and if you wanted to save the existing queen??? then reducing to a smaller box with fewer bee can increase the existing queens acceptability for a little while. I sometimes do this with II queens.

and finally not all cell started and capped emerge as virgin queens. sometimes the exiting queen takes care of these herself.

Iddee writes:
The bees will judge the queen and will not let an inferior one destroy other cells.

tecumseh:
I would question this assumption Iddee. I see plenty of cells destroyed in swarm boxes by an early hatching virgin and most of the time when this happens the queen doing the killings by the calendar almost has to be not so good. Quite often these mass murderin' momma turn out to be drone layers if you leave everything be after removing the remaining cells. Matter of fact I dealt with one of these this morning.
 

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You remove some cells at some times. You have found young drone layers.

I don't remove cells except to nucs or mating boxes. I have never had a "young" drone layer.

Every drone layer I have ever had just played out when aging.

I'll stick to my beliefs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
I thought I had a pretty simple plan, but I guess things get complicated fast in the world of bees.

In my case, I can see that if I had a lot of swarm cells present, I could cull all but a few of the best looking ones. I don't trust myself to thin it down to just one and pin the future of the colony on that one queen.

To answer your questions Tec- I would say this is good genetic stock and I'd rather not lose it. I know folks say they overwinter nucs around here, but I'm a little nervous about breaking this thing down into a bunch of nucs and hoping I can pull off having them all overwinter (having no successful track record myself). If it were earlier in the season, I might go for it. I feel like I'd have better chances with my split-and-recombine plan. I would certainly evaluate which was the better queen at the time of combining and "off" the other one.

Perhaps if the "loser" queen is not so bad, it could be a chance for me to practice overwintering a nuc...

-Dan
 

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good luck no matter what path you take Dan.

Dan writes:
I feel like I'd have better chances with my split-and-recombine plan.

tecumseh:
another option might be to stack the two separate parts with a double screen between the two parts. this set up should (at least in principle) be better than nucs overwintered in small boxes in northern locations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Update:
Well, I did it. I found the queen and moved her along with some brood, pollen, and honey (6 medium frames in all) to a nuc, which ended up being a double-medium 5-frame nuc. I accidentally "culled" a couple of queen cells when taking the boxes apart, so I guess I followed that advice inadvertently. I fed both some 1:1.

All in all, I'd say it was a success, but I guess I won't really know until spring, huh? If both the original hive and the nuc are doing well come fall (and I get my hands on a double-screen) perhaps I'll take Tec's suggestion and stack them rather than combine.

A couple of questions now:
1) I saw maybe 5 or so "classic" swarm-position cells, and 2 mid-frame "supercedure-style" cells. Should this be saying anything to me?
2) The hive had surprisingly little honey/nectar stored; I'd say 5 medium frames max. Is this tied to the swarming behavior? It's kind of the opposite of what I expected.
3) I found the queen quite easily, because she was "chirping" on the frame. Should this behavior mean anything to me? I'm fairly certain I was looking at the original queen (she's a pretty distinctive "full-figured" Russian beauty).

Thanks for all the advice along the way.
-Dan
 

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Dan wrties followed by>tecumseh response.

1) I saw maybe 5 or so "classic" swarm-position cells, and 2 mid-frame "supercedure-style" cells. Should this be saying anything to me?
>it is a proper lesson that position tells you little about what is driving the production of queen cells. the 'classic' lesson here is such stuff should be read with a grain of salt (<and perhaps a shot of tequilla :drinks: ).
2) The hive had surprisingly little honey/nectar stored; I'd say 5 medium frames max. Is this tied to the swarming behavior? It's kind of the opposite of what I expected.
>how does this compare to your other hives current production? if considerable lower that what you would expect then likely the balance beam is tilting in the direction of superscedure.
3) I found the queen quite easily, because she was "chirping" on the frame. Should this behavior mean anything to me? I'm fairly certain I was looking at the original queen (she's a pretty distinctive "full-figured" Russian beauty).
>most times the first things I look at are 1) how she moves on the frames and 2) the condition of the back edges of her wings. I think 'chirping' (piping) suggest the queen is in some distress. they will do this quite often when the workers cease feeding the old queen as they prepare her for a swarming flight.

Russians I am told do have a tendency to swarm often. Like a lot of highly selected bee stock what you get in generation 2 and beyond (F2's and beyond in genetic speak) has a high probability that they will be inferior to the original F1.

ps with only 5 frames of stores spread between two hives you are going to need to get some feed into both units as quickly as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Thanks,
This hive definitely has lower stores than the 2 hives next to it in the same yard. I would have thought supercedure too, except for the cell positions and the fact that I was looking in this hive because I thought it might be crowded.

As a matter of fact though, when I got in there it looked like there was plenty of unused comb in there. If they were going to swarm, perhaps the empty comb is because they had prodded the queen into decreased laying?

I'll feel silly for going through all this if it was just going to be a superscedure, but perhaps I'll never know. I will look at the condition of the queen more closely next time. I guess if I recombine and off the old queen, the end result will be the same as supercedure (only with a lot more unneccesary beekeeper intervention).

-Dan
 
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