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Author Topic: queen cell question  (Read 2088 times)
goertzen29
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« on: April 29, 2009, 05:47:21 PM »

I'm sorry to ask again but I am worried about my bees.  I have a similar situation to someone earlier this week...2 1/2 week old hives with queen cells being built, about 5 or 6 in one hive and 2 in my other hive.

In both hives the cells are in the middle of the frame making me think they're supercedure queen cells. 

The response to the other post was to leave them alone and I'm wondering if they are supercedure queen cells does this mean they will NOT swarm and rather that the emerging queens will fight to the death leaving one winner?  I'm worried if they swarm I'll lose everything b/c the first round of brood hasn't even started hatching yet.

Oh, and I saw both queens today so I know they're alive

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jason58104
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« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2009, 06:19:50 PM »

did you start with packages?  it is not uncommon for a package to build several queen cells after being installed in a hive.  if you see a queen cut them out.
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goertzen29
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« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2009, 06:51:47 PM »

yes I started with 4lb packages.  So you're saying cut them out?  I cut out one queen cell on one hive last week and now that hive has 2 more built. 
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jason58104
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« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2009, 06:57:32 PM »

if you see any brood at all cut out all the cells you see.
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homer
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« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2009, 07:07:34 PM »

Unless you have another queen ready to put into hive hive, I don't think that It is the best advice to be removing queen cells.  Obviously the bees have some reason that they don't like the current queen and are trying to supercede here with a new one.  If there are already capped and or open queen cells with larvae in them, it is likely that the queen is already gone and removing those cells makes it impossible for them to raise up a new queen.

However, it is not uncommon at all to see empty queen cups in a healthy hive.  I don't think it makes any difference if you leave them alone or cut them out.  If the bees want to raise a queen they will.  THey know how to make new cells if you destroy the others.
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gaucho10
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« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2009, 07:23:49 PM »

homer is right.  Considering this is a new "bunch" of bees, I would not get rid of any queen cells.  If they are just "started" queen cells that's normal.  You don't have to destroy them...you could if you want.  If they are developing queen cells, then I would leave them alone, there might be a problem.  Also check on the status of your present queen...if you have one.  Do you have drawn out frames?  Do you have eggs.  Do you have signs of a "laying" queen?

Four (4) pounds of bees does not sound like a good number of bees to swarm.  If they are building queen cells then perhaps they need a NEW queen.
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brendan
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« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2009, 07:34:01 PM »

I have noticed the same thing in one of my healthy hives. Empty queen cells scattered around the hive in the presence of a marked laying queen. My resident bee expert told me this is perfectly normal. I don't know what purpose this would serve. Any ideas?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2009, 07:41:02 PM »

Superseding may not set them back at all.  They will just raise a new queen, odds are they won't dispose of the old one, there's a good chance you'll have two queens for a while and finally only the better one.  The bees may be wrong about the queen but they also may be right.  She may be poorly mated or they may just be blaming her for being homeless right now.  I would leave the cells.  I pretty much never destroy queen cells.  The bees have taught me that they are usually correct and I am usually wrong.

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goertzen29
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« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2009, 07:52:25 PM »

thanks for all the replies.  To clear things up I DO have a living and laying queen in each hive, I saw them today along with eggs and brood of differing developing stages.   And I did crush one cell which did have a developing queen inside and at least a couple of the other cells were already capped as well. 

Thanks for the help I'll leave them alone for now and watch what happens.  Is there anything else I need to watch for or be aware of in the coming days/weeks as the new queens begin to emerge?
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bugleman
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« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2009, 10:23:32 PM »

Kind of scarry not being in charge, isn't it?  Wink
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goertzen29
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« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2009, 10:35:46 PM »

yes it is  Undecided  I'll just try to watch and learn
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2009, 12:39:40 AM »

The best way in the world to make a hive queenless is to remove queen cells. 
If supercedure is going one the queen may be offed as soon as the cells are capped and removing them renders the hive queenless.
In the case of swarm cells re-read the above sentence.
Excess queen cells can always be used to start 1 or more nucs from which other queenless hives can be requeened.

To put it bluntly: anyone who recommends or actually removes queen cells is, IMO, an idiot.
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« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2009, 09:06:57 AM »

I have a similar situation with one of my packages which I installed 2 1/2 weeks ago. Only one frame partially filled on both sides with capped brood and many queen cells. I looked as best I could and could see no eggs. Rechecked with sun behind my back still none so I think they may have killed the new queen. I am thankful she was able to produce enough eggs before this happened to allow them to make a new  queen. From everything I have read this is not uncommon with new packages although in my third year and have not seen it yet. Brian Bray mentions using the excess queens to start another NUC which is just what I had in mind. Not sure how to isolate them though. I would appreciate any help as I plan to do a split soon on another wintered through hive. Perhaps if I let them make their own queen the stock would be better?
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deknow
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« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2009, 10:20:41 AM »

i agree with not destroying the queen cells...unless you think you know what is going on in the hive/what the hive needs better than the bees do.

if you want some insurance (and this was a 4lb package), if there are queen cells on different frames, you could make a small split with 1 frame with a queen cell (and bees and brood), 1 frame with some stores...but these in a separate box (cardboard nuc is fine).

this way, you will have more than one queen mating (in the parent hive, and in the split), and if one doesn't make it back, you have some insurance.  you can always recombine later.

in a bigger colony, one might do something similar, but move the laying queen as insurance.

deknow
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goertzen29
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« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2009, 11:57:49 AM »

OK a couple more votes for not destroying the queen cells, I'll follow your advice...as far as splitting I'm a bit afraid to b/c in one hive I already lost quite a bit of brood to the cold, (which was my stupidity in rearranging the frames so they'd draw more comb on some of the outer frames...I just wasn't thinking about it, I should have left them alone) and on top of that on both hives all the queen cells were on a single frame, in a little group.  If it warms up today I'll try to take some pictures and post them but I'm not sure if weather will permit.

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iddee
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« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2009, 01:12:40 PM »

>>>>I just wasn't thinking about it, I should have left them alone)<<<<

And it still applies. I never cut out queen cells unless I want one to use in another hive, then I never cut out the last or only one. If they didn't have a reason for it, they wouldn't have built it.
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Natalie
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« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2009, 10:20:42 PM »

I hope its okay to jump in here with a question since it relates to queen cells and this thread got me thinking about something I saw in my hive this week.

How many queen cells are generally grouped together?
I started a hive two weeks ago from a nuc.
On one of the frames I noticed that there were three huge cells toward the top of frame.
One was capped, one was mostly capped and had a huge larvae in it and the last one was empty.

Someone in this thread mentioned empty queen cells being scattered around the hive.
How is it they are empty, a queen hatched or do they build these queen cells first.
I had thought they made a queen out of a worker egg laid in a regular worker sized cell and proceeded from there, but it sounds like they also make these large empty cells. Am I understanding that correctly?

I had only had this colony about a week when I found these and wasn't sure if they could be drones or queen cells but either way I plan on never touching the queen cells and letting nature take its course so I just left them and forgot about it until now.

 I am wondering what they are so I can educate myself a little here on whether they could have been queen cells or drones.
Does the queen generallly lay alot more drones in one area or would she just lay 3 there?
Is drone larvae and queen larvae the same size?
Also, these were pretty big larvae I was surprised how big they were,any thoughts on what they could be?
The weird thing is that these cells were on brand new comb that they built that week, how did this larvae get so big so fast?
Thanks for any info anyone can give.
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EasternShore
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« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2009, 10:39:32 PM »

Drone cells are bullet shaped. Queen cells are peanut shaped and much larger. Often a hive will make drones this time of year, at least mine are..tons of them. Foundationless frames foster this from what I'm seeing.

On another note..
I have a boomer colony, great queen, tons of brood 2 deeps PACKED with bees, a new medium on top nearly untouched, new foundation and 4 capped queen cells. Took 2 out for a nuke and freed up the brood chamber with 2 new frames in each deep. All brood frames appears even and I saw the queen several days ago. This hive is in it's 2nd season.
Suggestions?
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2009, 12:12:35 AM »

To Answer a few questions:

Quote
I would appreciate any help as I plan to do a split soon on another wintered through hive. Perhaps if I let them make their own queen the stock would be better?

hives will often make queen cells on different frames, using one of those frames with queen cells intact to start a nuc (which is actually a split but with smaller numbers) and gives the nuc a queen relatively soon.  Then if the supercedure in the parent hive has failed for any reason the nuc can be recombined using the newspaper method.
As far as making better stock, that is a subject of long, and often hot, debate.  It is what the bees do naturally so it can't be all bad.  My experience that your just as likely to get a good queen by supercedure as by buying a queen, but then the reverse is also true.

Quote
On one of the frames I noticed that there were three huge cells toward the top of frame.
One was capped, one was mostly capped and had a huge larvae in it and the last one was empty.

That is not unusual.  The bees will have the queen lay in different queen cells on different days as backup insurance, the problem with it is that with staggarded queen cells the hatch of the second days after the first can induce a swarm when one isn't wanted by either the beekeeper or the bees.  Another reason for moving a frame with queen cells out of the hive temporarily if on sparate frames.  If on the same frame once cell can be carefully excised from the combs and pressed into the combs of another frame of brood that can be used to start a nuc.

Quote
How is it they are empty, a queen hatched or do they build these queen cells first.

A beekeeper will often enter a hive and find as many as a dozen queen cups--started but unfinished queen cells.  These are there as insurance.  some hives have queen cups all year, they make some, tear them down, make some more somewhere else, etc.

Quote
I had thought they made a queen out of a worker egg laid in a regular worker sized cell and proceeded from there, but it sounds like they also make these large empty cells. Am I understanding that correctly?


They will do that in an emergency, such as when a queen is killed while manipulating the hive.  But if a swarm or supercedure is by design so is the queen cells.  The workers will build the queen cells, or build up the queen cups, and then force the queen to lay in one or more of them.

As a general rule queen cells near the top of a frame denote supercedure, queen cells along the bottoms and ends of the frame will indicate swarming, and a few cells found at random wherever is an emergency queen.  The emergency queen is indicative of what was asked, altering a worker cell into a queen cell.

Quote
Does the queen generallly lay alot more drones in one area or would she just lay 3 there?
Is drone larvae and queen larvae the same size?

Drone cells are usually grouped together and found on a separate frame or the parts of the comb closest to the end bars.  Drone cells look like a .32 cal bullet sticking up from the comb.  Queen cells look more like peanut shells.  All eggs and larvae are the same size, the change takes place during the pupae stage.
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Natalie
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« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2009, 09:15:26 AM »

Brian thanks so much for that info. its invaluable to me to be able to understand what I am seeing in my hives.
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