Yikes - Queen Cells Everywhere!

I'll first tell you the purpose and "my goals" for opening the hive today, then I'll tell you what I saw that changed "my plans", and what I ultimately did to accommodate the "bee's plans" and hopefully make it a win-win for all of us.

My Plans
I've got a new queen arriving tomorrow, and today my goal was to take 4 frames of brood, pollen and nectar from the blue/purple hive and set it in a second hive. Having the frames of bees removed from their queen for 24 helps them accept a new queen a little easier.

Below is the second hive I was preparing to put into place in anticipation for the new queen tomorrow.

I opened the blue/purple hive and found my plan last week to stick the un-drawn super below the drawn out one did encourage them to start drawing the foundation! It's slow going, but several of the frames are being drawn out with new wax. It's hard to tell from the picture below, but trust me, they're building it!

I started pulling frames to look for the queen. If I could find her, I would set her aside to make sure I didn't accidentally move her to the split hive, and make the original hive queen-less. Just look at her brood pattern below!

Then I finally found her on one of the frames, surrounded by her attendants. She's in the center, with the white dot on her.

So far so good right?!

The Bee's Plans
For the past several weeks I've been tipping up the hive boxes, looking along the bottoms of the frames and in between them looking for swarm cells. The literature I read said that should generally be sufficient.

Hind-sight is always 20-20, and now I realize they sometimes build swarm cells other places in the frames.

Are these swarm cells or supersedure cells? Either way, they're already capped.

I read that swarm cells are generally on the bottoms of the frames, but not always. Why would the hive want to supersede this queen? She's only two years old, and she's always had beautiful, full frames of brood!

Not clear why they would want to supersede her, I'm left to assume these cells are swarm cells.

In total, I counted 6 capped cells. Fully capped.

What I Did
I picked out 4 frames of bees and brood and moved them into the new, third hive (single purple deep in picture below) awaiting for their new queen tomorrow.

I was standing in the apiary with bees circling me, letting me know they were just about out of patience from me going through their hives and re-arranging them and such.

My dad wasn't with me today, and I couldn't think of all the options I laid out in advance of the inspection, because after all, I thought today was going to be a no-brainer!

I took 4 more frames, one of which had queen cells and moved it to another new hive.

This left the original marked queen, and two queen cells in the blue/purple hive.

Clear as mud right?? Below is a picture of what I did.

While I was writing this, I was talking to my dad, who asked if I remembered Holly's suggestion in the comments of another post from last week about this very scenario. Unfortunately I hadn't, but now that I look back on it, it makes perfect sense, and I think I'm going to implement it tomorrow.

Basically, when queen cells are found, leave them in the original hive, but move the queen and brood to a new hive. This will allow the queens to hatch out, but won't swarm because the original queen isn't there anymore. Essentially it should eliminate the urge to swarm.

Below is what I should have done (and will fix tomorrow).

Oh well, as long as they don't swarm tomorrow before I fix them, it will all work out.

I named the hive in the middle "Phoenix". The mythology says it's a bird who's ability to be reborn from its own ashes implies that it is immortal, though in some stories the new Phoenix is merely the offspring of the older one. I felt it was fitting that since the middle hive is a result of the blue/purple hive, I call it Phoenix.

Comments For This Post: (1) | Post Your Comments! Hide The Comment Form
The Queen Bee says...
Date:   April 8, 2012, 9:55 am

You should 're'name your "Phoenix" hive, Fawkes, like Professor Dumbledore's Phoenix from the Harry Potter Series.  Those in the know will get it. 

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