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Author Topic: Supercedure and swarm cells at once?  (Read 3534 times)
duryeafarms
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« on: May 11, 2013, 06:41:48 PM »

I hived a package of bees about a month ago, gave them about 1/3 of my TBH to work on. They began building back to front and have continued that pattern, not gangbusters as I have seen on Youtube where 10 bars are drawn out in a week, but steady progress. Still, there are 6 bars in front next to the entrance that remain open, the 7th is just getting started and is being filled with nectar. About 2 bars behind that, we are looking almost complete with plenty of sealed brood, pollen and nectar. We have finally gotten some rain in the last month and the bees have lots to collect. A few bars in, I see some drone cells and a supercedure cell. Kind of surprising because there's plenty of sealed brood and I'm seeing baby bees. The next bar in, I'm pretty sure I see a swarm cell at the bottom. I remembered if brood comb is being backfilled with honey, the hive is getting too tight and a swarm is likely. I didn't see backfilling, but there's lots of open nectar. Since there's 6 completely empty bars at the front, this didn't make sense to me. Nevertheless, I decided to open 4 more bars at the back. I can sort of understand the swarm urge, but I don't get the supercedure. Has anyone seen both kinds of queen cells at one time?

Also, I've continued to feed dry sugar and they are gobbling it up. Now that I'm seeing more open nectar, should I stop feeding even though they are still taking it?
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duryeafarms
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« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2013, 06:50:03 PM »

Oh, one other important piece of information. The hive is queen right...saw her today.
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gjd
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« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2013, 07:13:39 PM »

I'd suggest describing the queen cells more completely.  Are you talking a full-blown peanut sticking out the side like a foundation frame, or a little empty cup from an edge of the comb?  If a cup, my very limited experience is that on top bars or frames with cutout comb pieces tied into empty frames, they like building these more than on the foundation-based frame people are more familiar with.  I assumed it went along  with the more natural shapes and communication holes.  If a more serious structure, I'll leave it to others more experienced.
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duryeafarms
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« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2013, 05:18:35 PM »

Here are a couple of pics showing my superscedure and swarm cells.
I have interleaved 4 empty bars in the dense part of the brood nest in hopes they will change their mind about swarming.

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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2013, 09:12:41 AM »

If the hive is growing and crowded and they have a lot of queen cells, have nectar in the brood cells, then ALL of those queen cells are swarm cells.  If the hive is languishing, not crowded and there are only a few queen cells, and there is a queen, ALL of those queen cells are supersedure cells.   If the hive is languishing, not crowded and there are only a few queen cells, and there is no queen, ALL of those queen cells are emergency cells.

The bees are doing whatever they are doing and it's is only one of the possible things they are doing.  These are exclusive ORs.

Swarming OR
Superseding OR
Emergency.

The answer to which is in the context of the hive right now.  Crowded/not crowded, growing/shrinking, few queen cells/lots of queen cells, laying queen/no queen, open brood cells/nectar in brood cells.

Location is really irrelevant.  It is one clue among many that may help, but is not definitive.
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Michael Bush
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duryeafarms
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« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2013, 11:04:39 PM »

I have to go with swarm cells as the answer, but there's plenty of room in the hive. Guess I'll know in the next week. If they are swarm cells and my brood comb spacing trick prevents the swarm, what happens to those capped queens? Am I in for a superscedure? Is there ever a queen fight where the incumbent prevails?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2013, 08:27:54 AM »

> but there's plenty of room in the hive.

Is there plenty of room for the queen to lay?  Open brood cells?  Or are the brood cells full of nectar/syrup?  If the brood nest gets backfilled they will swarm when there is no other reason for them to.

I have never been able to stop them from swarming once there are queen cells without doing a split.  But since it looks like you have a capped queen cell, and that cell looks a bit brown and well "filigreed", I would say if they are swarm cells, the swarm already left several days ago.
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Michael Bush
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duryeafarms
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« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2013, 01:49:58 PM »

Michael, I appreciate your input.  Ok, I didn't see nectar in brood cells, just a good bit of open nectar in the top of brood comb. Your point about perhaps not having adequate space to lay is well taken, but the brood pattern isn't so tight on every comb that she has nowhere to lay. I guess that gets to the point of why, when there's plenty of space to do so, aren't they building the comb out faster?  Could it be because I'm feeding dry sugar?  They're eating all I'm putting in there and I'm keeping it in there. I did feed them sugar syrup once via a baggie and they took it readily. But I saw they were storing it and didn't want that so I went back to dry sugar. If I need to feed syrup to get them to build comb faster then so be it.

I don't think they had swarmed at the time of the pictures...I located the queen when I took them.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2013, 05:23:34 PM »

You located A queen.  The swarm cells are staggered in age... which is another good way to tell a supersedure cell (all the same age) from a swarm cell (different ages).
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Michael Bush
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duryeafarms
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« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2013, 06:40:12 PM »

She looked like the same queen I'd seen before. Could I pick the original queen out of a lineup? Good question.

I do need to know if dry sugar is preventing comb from being built as fast as it's needed for her to lay.  Any thoughts on that? 

I'm also seeing a curious behavior at the entrance for the last several days. It looks like they are continuously cleaning along the entrance, facing the same way, going back and forth...pretty much like they are doing a line dance. At first I thought they were fanning the hive, but they aren't fanning. I'm going to get some video, put it on Youtube and publish the link here as soon as I can.

Again, thanks for the help.
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duryeafarms
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« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2013, 10:52:08 PM »

Ok, I've discovered the entrance behavior is called washboarding whose purpose is unknown to us. Maybe they do it to build up static electricity then go back inside and shock bees they don't like.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2013, 06:55:38 AM »

>I do need to know if dry sugar is preventing comb from being built as fast as it's needed for her to lay.  Any thoughts on that? 

There is no reason to feed them in a flow...
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Michael Bush
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duryeafarms
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« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2013, 12:35:28 PM »

A stupid question, but I will ask anyway.  In your book, you say feeding should stop once capped stores are seen. Technically, these could exist in brood or honey comb, but is the surplus you refer to honey comb or any capped honey?  I have capped honey in the periphery of my brood combs along with pollen, normal as I understand it. What I don't have at this point (or didn't when I looked 6 days ago) was capped honey comb. All of the existing combs were at that point being used for the brood nest.  I have fed dry sugar, so storing syrup isn't an issue.  Still need a lot of comb drawn to accommodate laying and honey storage.  Our nectar flow is probably not going to last much past the end of June when the heat and lack of rain turn everything brown (although I live in the city, we have had predominant drought and watering restrictions in place for the majority of the last 5 years).  Maybe they will surprise me when I look in the hive tomorrow. I watch them for a bit in the evening when I get home and they've been going like gangbusters this week.
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zzzzzzzzpr
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« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2013, 10:02:53 PM »

i got this as well. i just open for inspection and i noticed superceder and swarm cells.

i did add more bars to the hive. i did see the queen and she has room to lay eggs.

if i need to do a split how do i go about it? i dont have any empty ktbh. i have a few nuc boxes and building langth hives as we type.

if they are going to swarm can i split and put them in a nuc box?
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nietssemaj
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« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2013, 06:57:04 AM »

Take a look @ Swarm Control as well as How to do splits
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duryeafarms
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« Reply #15 on: May 18, 2013, 03:26:33 PM »

After spotting the queen cells a week ago and alternating 3 empty bars in brood comb, I just checked the hive. The queen cells had been torn down and replaced by regular comb. There were lots of empty brood cells, some uncapped larvae, didn't spot any eggs, but this is a real challenge for me normally. I didn't have a camera man this time so pictures aren't available to examine. There was still sealed brood on the lower parts of brood comb. The population did not appear to have diminished. I did not see a queen, temperament of the hive seemed the same. It did not appear that the hive had cast a swarm, but I am at work during the day and could have easily missed it. Late yesterday afternoon there was a large group of bees taking orientation flights, guessing they are not swarm candidates. They had begun to build out 2 of the 3 new bars, but progress wasn't what I was hoping for. For the first time, I did not feed them, I'm sure they had run out of sugar mid week. I'm hoping these girls can put away some honey for the winter. They are hard at work, forager activity is strong, but in what should be the "power band" of the flow, when other (Langstrothe) beeks are adding supers, I don't see any dedicated honey comb, only capped in brood comb. There was nectar in one brood cell here and there, but not what this newbie would categorize as backfilled. Overall (assuming there is a queen there), the hive looks healthy.
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zzzzzzzzpr
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« Reply #16 on: May 19, 2013, 01:13:01 AM »

i did add a few bars to my hive. its suppose to rain the next 3 days here and was thinking that i would try to add more bars to see what happens.

this is my 1st hive. my 2nd which is 3 weeks behind this one i pray wont do the same.

ill keep praying for you and your hive.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2013, 10:01:49 AM »

> is the surplus you refer to honey comb or any capped honey?

Any capped honey.
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Michael Bush
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doug494
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« Reply #18 on: May 29, 2013, 02:21:23 PM »

I started two tbh's (deep sized) two years ago.  I think bees just operate differently in TBH's as opposed to langs.  I don't think you can compare to what lang hive beeks are doing.

Until last year, only my strongest hive had much in the way of dedicated honey stores.  The majority of the bars were mixed honey and brood.  The brood nest, measured from comb with drone on one end to comb with drone on the other, was usually 10-12 bars wide with honey and pollen stores intermingled.  I'd have 3-5 empty, almost combless bars towards the entrance and the other end would be a mixture of capped and uncapped honey.  A full capped bar of honey was very rare.  I'm building some lang boxes to try next and see how they react to that structure once I can get a split off of them.

BTW that hive survived the first winter as a package, swarmed or superseded last spring, with the new queen became my strongest hive, survived this winter and just swarmed this spring. (Which I think I caught to put in my other deadout hive from the winter).  The other hive didn't make it through the second winter and never took off like the one that requeened did.

I fed both packages a less than 1 gallon of syrup each when I first got them, told them to make it work and haven't feed anything since (well I did give them 1lb of dry sugar the first winter but they didn't eat it all).

No, I don't get a lot of honey, but I want my bees to be survivors.  I also don't know how I would separate sugar syrup stores from honey stores since they spread everything through the hive.
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