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Author Topic: swarm cell  (Read 3148 times)
Mairzy_doats
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« on: May 07, 2009, 10:35:56 AM »

Its been a week since I got my two "nucs". I parenthesize that since the queen was caged and there was very little brood in either nuc. I opened them up today and in the first hive found the queen and a swarm cell. Are they seriously going to swarm on me? Granted they are in 8 frame boxes and they came with five frames so that leaves three empty with a comb guide. The first hive has started drawing comb on one new frame but I didn't think that they would be congested enough to swarm. What do I do? How much time do I have before they decide to  leave? I understand that they won't swarm without capped brood, but there is such little capped brood I'm not sure what to think.

The second hive hasn't even started drawing comb on my frames, they had more brood but I couldn't find the queen, and both hives seemed more agitated than they did the last time I peeked in at them. I'm not feeding them since I noticed them bringing in pollen, so should I start feeding them again?

Sorry for so many questions. I just didn't expect a swarm cell of all things. Maybe I should've?

~mary
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wildbeekeeper
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« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2009, 12:39:59 PM »

are you sure its a swarm cell and not a supercedure cell?  swarm cells with  or can be multiple and are on the lower edge of the frame.  a supercedure frame is on the face of the foundation.  It could be that they just dont like the queen they came with and want a  new one!
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jdpro5010
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« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2009, 12:42:50 PM »

A lot of hives keep "queen cups" going all the time.  Just look to see if there is any egg or larvae present.  If not don't worry about it.  It is not unusual for package bees with new queen to build suprsedure cells, even if they don't use them, when you have a caged queen.  I would assume a nuc with a caged queen introduction would be along the same lines.  
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hankdog1
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« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2009, 12:57:22 PM »

i would suspect it's not a swarm cell but a supersedure cell.  swarm cells will be on the bottom of the frames while supersedure cells will be more towards the center.  but don't get upset the bees know what thier doing better then we do.
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Mairzy_doats
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« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2009, 01:42:06 PM »

Its hanging on the very edge of the frame like a peanut. That be swarm, right? COuld it be supersedere? I'd be fine with that, I'm not sure I'm ready for swarming. They can't be ready for that either but what do I know?  huh  grin
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Mairzy_doats
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« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2009, 01:43:19 PM »

How do I check for larvae in it? It appears to be completely capped.
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Cindi
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« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2009, 05:40:13 PM »

Mairzy-doats.  What you have said has concerned me.  You parenthesis "nuc".  Did you get nucs or package bees?  I would like some clarification on this, elaborate.  I guess I could spend the time and look at your other posts to see if you indicate which type of bee colonies, but I don't have the time.

When you get a nuc there should be capped brood, at least a frame or two at least.  I want to know if you paid "nuc" price or "package" price.  I hope that you got what you paid for.  Anyways, I am nosey, yes, but mostly, I am concerned, that is my "nosiness" for many things and my need for knowledge, truth.  Please elaborate to me.  Have that most wonderful and awesomely great day, health.  Cindi

By the way, what you may be seeing is the bees just building their cups for practice, or it may be a supercecdure cell.  Swarm cells are usually (I say usually) more in numbers/clusters and look like these:



In the picture below you will see a couple of things, which I shall describe....The swarm cells are not in that same kind of cluster as in the above picture.  THey are a little more spread out on the frame.  Look at the queen cell that has the side missing.  That is a queen cell that has been ripped open by another queen, whom has emerged firstly and performed a death killing upon her.  She has worked hard and fast to perform this murderous task. 

If there was an emerged queen, the top of the queen cell would have been opened by the queen within.  It would look like this description, kind of...

Picture opening a can of veggies or something of that sort.  When you have almost finished opening the can and the lid is still attached by that little piece of metal and a kitten popped out.  That is along the lines of what happens when a queen emerges.  When a queen is beginning to emerge from her prison, she turns around and around in the cell, biting off the cell "lid" with her mandibles, the lid to the cell is still generally still holding on in one tiny little spot that the queen has not knawed away and she comes out.   Funny eh?  Hope this may have shed a little clarity, or confused you deep as the blue skies above, hee, hee, smiling.

That stuff that you see in the cells below the cell that has the open side is chalkbrood, a brood disease that can be bothersome in the colony in the cool days of spring. 



Hope that you feel good about the answers that you have asked for your question.  My comments here have been a little lengthy, but as you get to know me, you will see that I am a ramblin' on type of gal, smiling.  Have that most beautiful, most wonderful day, to love this life we all live, health.  Cindi
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Mairzy_doats
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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2009, 09:02:29 AM »

Cindi,
Thank you for your lengthly post and pictures. It was most helpful and I don't feel that you're being nosy at all. The nucs I recieved had very little capped brood and by that I mean one or two rows total on a couple frames. Most of the frames were empty drawn comb, or uncapped honey. The queen was caged. I paid nuc price as they were substantially more than package bees but I wanted small cell so I figured it was worth it since being a newbie I wasn't ready to attempt regression.

The swarm cell is a single capped cell at the bottom of the frame that looks just like a peanut only skinnier. One another frame in the same hive there is a golf ball size cluster of cells jutting out from the center of the frame. It looks like funky comb but different if that makes sense. Like there is something inside and there is bees all over it. I'm not sure what to think. This hive has another 3 frames to draw out before they run out of room, so I put another super on top. Most of their comb is empty anyway so I'm not sure why they would be thinking of swarming unless its just a supersedure and that's fine because so far I'm not impressed with their queen either.

So should I attempt a split if it is in fact a swarm they are attempting? I am trying to reach a beek that lives nearby but he's somewhat hard to get ahold of. If I can reach him I'd like him to take a look, but I'm wondering if that would be a bad idea to open the hive again so soon.

Again, thank you so much for clarifying some things.

~mary
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Cindi
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« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2009, 10:28:39 PM »

Mary, I have sent you a PM regarding the nuc thing.  Have a most wonderful day, to love our life we live. Health.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
Mairzy_doats
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« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2009, 08:30:01 PM »

Cindi, I have PM'd you.

I talked to that local beek that I know. When I mentioned the swarm cell, he chided me for opening up the hive. Says thats how insects and things get in there and I shouldn't open up that hive unless I'm getting honey off and since this is my first year I won't get honey till next year so I shouldn't touch them till then. Am I crazy or is that the most insane thing ever? Granted, he's old enough to be my grandpa, and I respect that generation alot since they know more than anyone realizes but this sounded bizarrre. I tried to explain that I didn't want them to swarm and he said just let them do what they want to do. Ok, well, I have a few hundred dollars invested in those bees, not to mention the money and time invested into materials. I don't want to micromanage, but I don't want to stand there watching a swarm fly over my head and wave at them like a delusional person.
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fermentedhiker
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« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2009, 10:04:16 PM »

Cindi, I have PM'd you.

I talked to that local beek that I know. When I mentioned the swarm cell, he chided me for opening up the hive. Says thats how insects and things get in there and I shouldn't open up that hive unless I'm getting honey off and since this is my first year I won't get honey till next year so I shouldn't touch them till then. Am I crazy or is that the most insane thing ever? Granted, he's old enough to be my grandpa, and I respect that generation alot since they know more than anyone realizes but this sounded bizarrre. I tried to explain that I didn't want them to swarm and he said just let them do what they want to do. Ok, well, I have a few hundred dollars invested in those bees, not to mention the money and time invested into materials. I don't want to micromanage, but I don't want to stand there watching a swarm fly over my head and wave at them like a delusional person.

Sounds like a silly response on his part.  You have to check them once in awhile to know when to add another hive body.  A decent nuc in a year with decent weather and flow could produce honey for you in the same season, so his claim about not getting anything until year two so you shouldn't check on them doesn't make sense.  You certainly didn't get a nuc.  What you got was a package that was given some frames of drawn comb with a little(very little from the sound of it) capped brood, essentially a package with a headstart.  If I had to hazard a guess I would say(and I'm just a newbie so take this for what it's worth) that because of the new queen being caged they started to make an emergency queen from what they had available or they weren't completely happy with her and want to replace her anyways.  It certainly seems unlikely that they would swarm with their numbers and condition as you state.
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Cindi
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« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2009, 09:04:07 PM »

I would like to hear some responses from some members here regarding this post of Mairzy's.  I know not everyone is always on the forum, but it sounds like Mairzy needs to know if she got a package of bees instead of a nuc.  She paid a pretty high price for a significant low amount of product.  I know there are some of our forum friends that sell nucs.  Give her a hand, I think that there is an issue with what she paid for the nuc that she got.  If you chose not to discuss it in public forum, give her the decency to ease her mind which way or not in a PM.  That would be a nice thing to know or not, I think she is rather perplexed.  We were all beginning beekeepers at one point in time, and this gal needs some help right now.  Have a great, wonderful day, health.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2009, 09:16:15 PM »

Quote
Its been a week since I got my two "nucs". I parenthesize that since the queen was caged and there was very little brood in either nuc. I opened them up today and in the first hive found the queen and a swarm cell.

That puts what she got as a TOP (Time of Purchase) Nuc.  It was put together with some frames robbed from several hives and the queen left in the queen cage.  That is more like buying a package and putting it on drawn comb, a bit deceptive.  I don't think I'd buy from someone who operates that way.  A Nuc should be established with 5 frames, at least 4 of comb and bees, and a laying queen that's not in a cage.
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fermentedhiker
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« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2009, 10:16:47 PM »

To give you an idea of the difference in price from a true nuc to frames of bees in a nuc box.  I had ordered a queen to do a split from my overwintered hive.  A hive which ended up dieing out in late march.  So I had a problem, a queen on the way with no bees to give her to.  I should have called and rescheduled a delivery date, but procrastination is my middle name.  I contacted the original supplier about buying a frame or two of brood&bees so I could make up a weak nuc to get her through and I would work out how to get them built up later.  He indicated that it wasn't enough bees(which I knew but I didn't want to press my luck by asking for more so early in the season) and he offered to sell me 4 frames of bees and brood(i had plenty of frames of honey) for 10$ each.  So he would have charged me 40$ for me to build my own nuc.  Which means if I was trying to do what the beek who supplied the "NUC" was it would've have been 50$ for the frames of bees and however much the beek charges for a caged queen(18-25$ I would guess).  It sounds to me like he charged her a premium to get frames of already regressed bees.  Whether or not what you got was worth the extra cash is up to you.
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GJP
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« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2009, 10:48:00 PM »

I purchased and hived two five frame nucs with plenty of brood and new hygenic queens on May 2nd.  I did a quick check about 4 days later and found swarm cells in one of the hives.  I knocked the swarm cells down figuring they had been cramped in the nuc and that they would adjust to the extra frames soon.  I did another inspection tonight and again found swarm cells (bottoms of the frames) which were capped.  I also found several supercede cells on the next frame (mid frame or a little higher) which were also capped.  I didn't see eggs or much for larve and there is still a good amount of capped brood.  They have moved to a couple of the empty drawn frames and are using the honey from my hive that died this past winter.  I did put syrup on both hives and this one isn't taking much while the other one has just about finished off their gallon in a little more than a week.  Dandelions are doing well now so the syrup was coming off this weekend anyway.  I didn't knock the cells down tonight for fear of being queenless already!

So the question is: Are my girls getting ready to swarm or supercede or are they already queenless?  and Why? 

Thanks,

Greg

South central Wisconsin
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Cindi
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« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2009, 10:11:41 AM »

Mairzy, Brian gave you some good information.

I purchased four nucs the year before last from a queen breeder.  The cost of each nuc was $125.  He told me to get a second box on in about 3 weeks, I did.

Each nuc was composed of

A laying queen
3 frames of capped brood
5 frames of bees (that was 3 frames of bees covering the brood and about 2 frames of bees, for a total of 5 frames of bees)

That is what a nuc is.  A laying queen (not in a cage) and capped brood and bees.

There are different sizes of nucs, say 2 frames, 3 frames, 5 frames, but the price is according to the amount of product in that nuc.

You got ripped off, advertently or inadvertently, sometimes mistakes are made, never discount that thought.  But if the seller knowlingly sold you these two nucs and full sized nucs, something wrong with that picture.  Hope you have better luck another time.  Have a great and most awesome day, health and life, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2009, 01:21:09 PM »

I talked to that local beek that I know. When I mentioned the swarm cell, he chided me for opening up the hive. Says thats how insects and things get in there and I shouldn't open up that hive unless I'm getting honey off and since this is my first year I won't get honey till next year so I shouldn't touch them till then. Am I crazy or is that the most insane thing ever? Granted, he's old enough to be my grandpa, and I respect that generation alot since they know more than anyone realizes but this sounded bizarrre...I don't want to micromanage, but I don't want to stand there watching a swarm fly over my head and wave at them like a delusional person.

Many older beekeepers operate to this day on the 'don't touch it' model.  My father was this way, his father was that way, and one of my mentors is still somewhat this way to this day.

It's a very zen way of keeping bees, but with our problems in this day and age of beekeeping, I'm afraid that this management model of 'set it and forget it' is long gone.  The person who plans to operate this way should plan on a lot of surprises the following year.

I would personally be a little bothered by a salesman trying to sell me a car and chiding me for wanting to look under the hood.  Feel free to open your hive up, observe, and learn.
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Shawn
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« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2009, 01:50:13 PM »

Wow, I check on my beese once a week for a little longer. I like to see what they are doing and to make sure they are building the comb correctly, not that I can do anything about it  rolleyes If you didnt check on them how would you know when to add an extra body or super. Maybe im wrong and Im a very bad bee keeper but I have fun and the bees have fun trying to sting me  grin
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Rich V
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« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2009, 03:56:54 PM »

I purchased and hived two five frame nucs with plenty of brood and new hygenic queens on May 2nd.  I did a quick check about 4 days later and found swarm cells in one of the hives.  I knocked the swarm cells down figuring they had been cramped in the nuc and that they would adjust to the extra frames soon.  I did another inspection tonight and again found swarm cells (bottoms of the frames) which were capped.  I also found several supercede cells on the next frame (mid frame or a little higher) which were also capped.  I didn't see eggs or much for larve and there is still a good amount of capped brood.  They have moved to a couple of the empty drawn frames and are using the honey from my hive that died this past winter.  I did put syrup on both hives and this one isn't taking much while the other one has just about finished off their gallon in a little more than a week.  Dandelions are doing well now so the syrup was coming off this weekend anyway.  I didn't knock the cells down tonight for fear of being queenless already!

So the question is: Are my girls getting ready to swarm or supercede or are they already queenless?  and Why? 

Thanks,

Greg

South central Wisconsin

I know it can be difficult sometimes to fine the queen but with five frames it shouldn't be to hard. The absent of eggs and young larva lead me to think something happended to the queen. Are they bringing in pollen and to they seem gentle? May be queenless. Most likely not going to swarm. I would think colony to young and to small. Just looking for a queen.  I wouldn't destroy anymore cells until you find a queen. The cells you destroy may be your salvation.

Nuc's around here run five frames with a laying queen and sell for about $125
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GJP
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« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2009, 04:30:33 PM »

Rich,

I paid $75 and the guy is offering to help by paying me back for the queen.  My problem is that everytime I talk to someone, they think something else is going on.  So far I have: you're queenless, and your queen is being superceded.  I plan to go back in on Saturday for an extended inspection and get some help from a friend to try to find the queen.  If that fails I'll move some of the frames to another hive body minus bees and dump the rest of them on top of a queen excluder and see if I can find her that way!

Greg
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beehuntertrapper
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« Reply #20 on: May 14, 2009, 10:15:07 PM »

don't be afraid to go in the hive once a week(good weather permitting), if you don't, you can't see things such as swarm cells,no eggs, no room etc. I try to go in mine once a week for a quick peek. Friday I found 13 queen cells and the queen in one hive.That particular hive consisted of three deeps and two supers. So I split them into 5 hives. Had I not gone in, they for sure would have swarmed. Why let them go when you can at least try to manage them. The only time I don't go in is when I'm waiting for the queen cells to hatch. I watch the calender and wait to be sure they hatched so I don't damage them during the inspection. Look as much as you want, go slow be careful not to bump bees and have FUN!!!!
good luck.
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Mairzy_doats
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« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2009, 04:08:25 PM »

Hey all! I so appreciate all the input and advice. Haven't been able to post for awhile, as things have been really busy. I peeked in on my bees a week and a half after my initial post and found the swarm cell gone, and the bees in that hive drawing comb like crazy. I also found plenty of capped brood this time and they were bringing in a lot of pollen. They seemed oblivious to my presence.

Hive 2 seems weaker, not as busy as the other hive, but they haven't drawn any swarm cells on me so I guess that's good. I found eggs in that hive so at least I know a queen is there. They seem lazier than hive 1, but I'm ok with that, maybe they're just like me. grin
I am glad I got two hives so that I can do the comparisons.

As for my beek friend, I just glean the important info from him now. He would flip a lid if he knew I was in there every week (he gave my husband instructions to keep me out of the hives, just let the bees be...haha evil ) but that is the best way for me to learn.

As for the nuc supplier, I'm going to hope that it was just an accident and not a deliberate ripoff. If I happen to need to order more nucs in the future, I will make sure I know what I am getting.

Again, thanks for the info!

~mary
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