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Author Topic: New package, new queen, new supercedure cell  (Read 1030 times)

Offline So-apiary

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New package, new queen, new supercedure cell
« on: May 21, 2021, 05:11:12 pm »
Hey y'all!

I'm a totally green beek, just installed my first package a couple weeks ago.  It's not a lot of bees, but they're building comb and storing nectar/sugar water, and the queen has definitely been laying.  Things seem to be off to a good start despite starting with empty frames and some sorta chilly weather for a few days during the past two weeks. My concern is that I found a supercedure cell during my inspection today, and I don't really know what to make of it.

There's only a little bit of larva, but I'm thinking that's to be expected, given the weather, the fact that the bees had to start from scratch, and the fact that there aren't many of them to care for a big bunch of brood yet. But why did they try to supercede? And did I do the right thing by removing the supercedure cell? I'm hoping the answer is that they're a little stressed at the moment, and things will be okay once they've had a chance to build up their numbers and collect more resources. I've been checking on them more frequently than I plan to in the future, and I know that stresses them too, but I'm glad I took a look today and saw that capped queen cell.

What should I do if I find another queen cell when I inspect again? If they're bent on replacing the queen, I'd rather purchase one of those fancy, mite tolerant ones than to let them raise their own.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Cindy

Offline The15thMember

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Re: New package, new queen, new supercedure cell
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2021, 07:03:08 pm »
Hi there, Cindy.  :happy:  It's not uncommon for packages to attempt a supersedure.  To make up the package, the beekeeper you bought it from took a queen and put her in a box with a bunch of bees from another hive or even several other hives.  The bees don't have any allegiance to this queen and will often prefer to raise a new one as soon as possible.  If this is the case, I don't think it's an issue that you removed the queen cell.  However, the risk is that the bees know something that you don't.  Perhaps the queen is injured or failing, and the bees are taking steps to rectify the situation.  If this is the case and the queen stops laying, the bees could become "hopelessly queenless" and be left without a larva the proper age to make into a queen.  However, if you are already inclined to purchase a queen, then you may not care if this happens.

My question is, when you say this colony has only a little bit of brood, how much is that exactly?  How many frames of bees do you have, and how many of brood?  Is the queen's laying pattern good?  How frequently have you been checking them?  Because workers will sometimes blame new queens for the intrusions and disruptions caused by a beekeeper.  The answers to these questions will help in figuring out if there is something wrong with the queen, or if the bees simply don't like her.         
« Last Edit: May 21, 2021, 07:15:55 pm by The15thMember »
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Offline So-apiary

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Re: New package, new queen, new supercedure cell
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2021, 08:50:02 pm »
Hi 15th,

Thanks for your reply! I've definitely been intrusive over the past two weeks, but every reason I've had for doing that has been resolved now, except I think I need to look again in about five days to see if they've made another queen cell. I definitely don't want them making their own right now, since I have no idea if they're any better or worse genetically than the current queen. So I want to keep an eye on that situation, but I can at least give them five days of peace between intrusions.

The bees have eight frames available to them and have gotten five of them roughly half filled with comb. So not a lot of nursery or pantry space yet, and only enough adult bees to cover those half-filled frames. It looks like the brood is on two of the frames, both sides of each.  Rather than laying a circle of brood in the middle, the queen has been going back and forth making rows up to a couple inches or so from the edges of the comb all around.  If any of the frames were completely filled with comb, I'd think it looked like a decent laying pattern, but there's just not enough comb there to really tell much yet.

Do you think the bees will accept her any better as time goes on and the colony gets better established? Do you think I'd be better off requeening, one way or another?  Or should I give this queen a chance to show what she can do, given enough time, space, and resources?  If my bees won't take to a queen from another bloodline, do I have any other options besides letting them raise their own queen?  Anything I can do (besides giving the bees some peace and quiet, which is already the plan) to help them accept the current queen?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.  Please feel free to answer any questions I didn't know I needed to ask about this. :)

Cindy

Offline So-apiary

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Re: New package, new queen, new supercedure cell
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2021, 11:24:04 am »
Oops, that was a brain cramp about the genetics.  Any queen they raise right now would be the queen's genetics and whatever drones she mated with before I even got her.  They can't raise one of their own bloodline because they don't have a queen from their bloodline. DUH!

So that being the case, why did they make a queen cell with almost the first egg she laid? 

Cindy

Offline The15thMember

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Re: New package, new queen, new supercedure cell
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2021, 12:32:09 pm »
Oops, that was a brain cramp about the genetics.  Any queen they raise right now would be the queen's genetics and whatever drones she mated with before I even got her.  They can't raise one of their own bloodline because they don't have a queen from their bloodline. DUH!

So that being the case, why did they make a queen cell with almost the first egg she laid? 

Cindy
It's all good!  I'm not really sure from a genetic perspective why or if it would be preferable to the workers to raise a new queen.  I think it may be about the fact that the colony is slow to build from a package, and the bees may just assume that it's the queen's fault, since a spring colony and even a swarm will progress faster than a package. 

The bees have eight frames available to them and have gotten five of them roughly half filled with comb. So not a lot of nursery or pantry space yet, and only enough adult bees to cover those half-filled frames. It looks like the brood is on two of the frames, both sides of each.  Rather than laying a circle of brood in the middle, the queen has been going back and forth making rows up to a couple inches or so from the edges of the comb all around.  If any of the frames were completely filled with comb, I'd think it looked like a decent laying pattern, but there's just not enough comb there to really tell much yet.
That sounds pretty good for a package, although I've only done packages once.  As long as the queen's laying pattern is tight, i.e. she's not skipping cells, I wouldn't be too concerned about her. 

Thanks for your reply! I've definitely been intrusive over the past two weeks, but every reason I've had for doing that has been resolved now, except I think I need to look again in about five days to see if they've made another queen cell. I definitely don't want them making their own right now, since I have no idea if they're any better or worse genetically than the current queen. So I want to keep an eye on that situation, but I can at least give them five days of peace between intrusions.
 
Every five days is very frequent to check on a new colony.  Queen larvae are usually capped 11 days after the egg was laid, so I don't see any reason to check them more than once every week to ten days.  If you have been checking on them more than once a week, I'm betting they are taking issue with your disruptions. 


Do you think the bees will accept her any better as time goes on and the colony gets better established? Do you think I'd be better off requeening, one way or another?  Or should I give this queen a chance to show what she can do, given enough time, space, and resources?  If my bees won't take to a queen from another bloodline, do I have any other options besides letting them raise their own queen?  Anything I can do (besides giving the bees some peace and quiet, which is already the plan) to help them accept the current queen?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.  Please feel free to answer any questions I didn't know I needed to ask about this. :)

As far as what you should do, I think that's your preference.  I have never purchased queens, so I can't offer any specific advice to that (I always just let bees requeen themselves with eggs from a better hive when I don't like what I'm seeing), but if you are fairly certain you aren't happy with their genetics already, and you'd like to purchase a replacement and requeen them, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  You could also continue to remove queen cells in the hopes they'll accept their current queen at some point, which they may.  Alternatively, you could let them raise a new queen and see how she turns out, you never know what genes your local drones are carrying.  You haven't really had enough time to see the quality of the queen you have, so I don't see any reason to believe a daughter of hers would be worse than her.  But if you don't feel like the stock you purchased will be successful in your situation, requeening with better genetics is always a good option.  Where did you get your bees?  Were they from a local supplier?   

 
 
« Last Edit: May 22, 2021, 12:52:59 pm by The15thMember »
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Offline So-apiary

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Re: New package, new queen, new supercedure cell
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2021, 06:38:22 pm »
Hello again, 15th, and thanks again for your thoughts and comments.

I'll take your advice and back off with the frequent inspections.  The package was from a local bee store.  I honestly know nothing about their genetics except that they're Italians, but I think they're supposedly a hygenic strain.  It's too early to tell if I'll like their overall performance. 

The reason I mentioned requeening with a VSH or similar was because I sort of agree with the school of thought that says that perpetuating a strain of bees that can't deal with mites and other diseases without chemical help isn't really helping the problem.  However, if the queen I have is actually doing fine, I'd rather leave her alone until there's some pressing reason to requeen.  I know that the supplier I bought the bees from believes that "if you don't use chemicals, your bees will die."  So it wouldn't surprise me if these bees are very weak when it comes to disease and mite resistance.  The seller is possibly just trying to breed as many bees as he can to satisfy an enormous demand in this area, so he may be selecting for strong egg layers rather than for pest and disease resistance or winter hardiness.  On the other hand, I care more about a colony's longevity and health than about how many eggs the queen can lay in a day.  Of course, everyone has their own beekeeping goals and  logic, and if I was in the seller's shoes, I might do things the same way he does.

I have a friend who is also new to beekeeping, but she started with nucs, so her hives are going gangbusters right now.  Would it be helpful or advisable to try to get a frame or two of brood from her to add to my puny little hive?  Or would that just be another stress on my current colony?

I'm finding out why they say that all beekeepers are beginners for the first 20 years, lol!

Offline The15thMember

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Re: New package, new queen, new supercedure cell
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2021, 07:04:07 pm »
Hello again, 15th, and thanks again for your thoughts and comments.

I'll take your advice and back off with the frequent inspections.  The package was from a local bee store.  I honestly know nothing about their genetics except that they're Italians, but I think they're supposedly a hygenic strain.  It's too early to tell if I'll like their overall performance. 

The reason I mentioned requeening with a VSH or similar was because I sort of agree with the school of thought that says that perpetuating a strain of bees that can't deal with mites and other diseases without chemical help isn't really helping the problem.  However, if the queen I have is actually doing fine, I'd rather leave her alone until there's some pressing reason to requeen.  I know that the supplier I bought the bees from believes that "if you don't use chemicals, your bees will die."  So it wouldn't surprise me if these bees are very weak when it comes to disease and mite resistance.  The seller is possibly just trying to breed as many bees as he can to satisfy an enormous demand in this area, so he may be selecting for strong egg layers rather than for pest and disease resistance or winter hardiness.  On the other hand, I care more about a colony's longevity and health than about how many eggs the queen can lay in a day.  Of course, everyone has their own beekeeping goals and  logic, and if I was in the seller's shoes, I might do things the same way he does.
I agree with your thought process and I think seeing what you have before requeening is a good idea.  Given your trepidation about their ability to deal with mites, I'd definitely recommend doing regular sugar rolls or alcohol washes to keep an eye on the mite situation, so you can do something like requeen if you need to before it gets out of hand. 

I have a friend who is also new to beekeeping, but she started with nucs, so her hives are going gangbusters right now.  Would it be helpful or advisable to try to get a frame or two of brood from her to add to my puny little hive?  Or would that just be another stress on my current colony?
As long as your hive has enough adults to care for the brood you add, the addition of more brood is never a bad idea to help boost a colony.  Just be sure you aren't setting back your friend's nucs too much and that her hives are healthy before you transfer any comb. 

I'm finding out why they say that all beekeepers are beginners for the first 20 years, lol!
 
It's true!  The learning curve is steep at first.  I'm in my fourth year, and I feel like things are starting to really level out for me, but there is always something new to learn with bees, sometimes the easy way and sometimes the hard way.  :embarassed:
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Offline Ben Framed

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Re: New package, new queen, new supercedure cell
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2021, 09:20:07 pm »
> Quote from: So-apiary on Today at 06:38:22 pm
I'm finding out why they say that all beekeepers are beginners for the first 20 years, lol!
 
It's true!  The learning curve is steep at first.  I'm in my fourth year, and I feel like things are starting to really level out for me, but there is always something new to learn with bees, sometimes the easy way and sometimes the hard way.  :embarassed:<



Member is right. I got my first bees in spring 2018. The beekeeping mysteries seem to be coming together for me also. It takes dedication, work, and a willingness to find answers to questions. Part of the fun of beekeeping. Beemaster has been and will continue to be an important avenue to this learning process and experience for me. I wish success for you as well!
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Offline So-apiary

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Re: New package, new queen, new supercedure cell
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2021, 01:26:37 pm »
Thanks, Ben and 15th.  Just as "getting old ain't for sissies", neither is beekeeping.  I've only been at it for a couple of weeks, but I've been learning so many things... usually the day after I really needed to know!

15th, your comments helped me avoid what might have been a big mistake -- taking brood from my friend's hive.  Now that I think about it, her colonies have some problems of their own, and sharing frames right now could easily set us both back.

I plan to do monthly sugar rolls to check for mites, starting in a couple weeks.  I've been checking the mite board under the hive in the meantime.  So far, no beetles or mites.  The bees can't get to the board, so I dusted it with DE before installing the bees.  If anything does fall through, the DE should send them to glory.  If a mite problem develops, I definitely will treat with the dreaded chemicals.  My goal is to work my way into having resilient bees.  The transition will take some time, so in the meantime, I'll take good care of the bees I have. 

I did some research on that queen cell I found.  Turns out it was a swarm cell, not an emergency supercedure cell.  Now I have to figure out how to address that urge to swarm.  Being less intrusive will help, I'm sure, but I probably need to do more.  I haven't decided what exactly, but part of the solution might involve getting that snazzy, mite resistant queen I've been wanting.  Never a dull moment, right?  I agree, Ben, this forum is a lifesaver for new beeks!

Offline So-apiary

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Re: New package, new queen, new supercedure cell
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2021, 04:48:00 pm »
I did some more research and accidentally discovered that this time of year is swarm season, something I didn't know.  So it could be that the swarm cell I found is just a product of bees doing what they typically do, although I still don't need to add any fuel to the fire by being so intrusive.

Offline The15thMember

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Re: New package, new queen, new supercedure cell
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2021, 05:03:49 pm »
I did some research on that queen cell I found.  Turns out it was a swarm cell, not an emergency supercedure cell.  Now I have to figure out how to address that urge to swarm.  Being less intrusive will help, I'm sure, but I probably need to do more.  I haven't decided what exactly, but part of the solution might involve getting that snazzy, mite resistant queen I've been wanting.  Never a dull moment, right?  I agree, Ben, this forum is a lifesaver for new beeks!
I did some more research and accidentally discovered that this time of year is swarm season, something I didn't know.  So it could be that the swarm cell I found is just a product of bees doing what they typically do, although I still don't need to add any fuel to the fire by being so intrusive.
It is swarm season, but I highly doubt your tiny new colony has swarming on it's mind right now.  You only saw 1 queen cell, correct?  I'm assuming that somewhere you read "swarm cells are on the bottom of the frames, and supersedure cells are in the middle".  This is only a rule of thumb, and in my experience the better indicator of what the bees are planning is the number of cells.  Hives planning to swarm will typically build many queen cells, since they have the resources to do so, and will use the extra queens to swarm multiple times in many cases.  I removed 20 queen cells from a colony preparing to swarm a couple of weeks ago and some were along the bottoms of the frames and some were in the middle.  During a supersedure though, it's an emergency that the bees haven't prepared for, and they don't need to make more than one queen, so they will typically build only a few queen cells and these are wherever the right age larva are on the frame.  In many cases this is in the middle of a frame, but it can easily be along a bottom edge as well. 
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Offline So-apiary

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Re: New package, new queen, new supercedure cell
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2021, 05:41:30 pm »
15th, you're right.  I did read that "these are swarm cells, and these are emergency supercedure cells". Yes, there was only one of them.

It's a huge relief to read that you don't think my bees are thinking about swarming.  I've been freaking out about it and thinking I need to do all kinds of interventions.  I *think* the bees have everything they need -- a queen who appears to be doing her best with what she's got, a few empty frames to work on, what appears to be a nice pollen and nectar flow at the moment, a robber screen to protect their tiny colony, and a dummy board keeping the hive size cozy.  Being the newbee that I am, maybe I made way too much out of that one queen cell.  So I'm gonna calm down and see how things look next weekend.

Thanks for gently chilling me out. :)

Offline The15thMember

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Re: New package, new queen, new supercedure cell
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2021, 06:12:11 pm »
15th, you're right.  I did read that "these are swarm cells, and these are emergency supercedure cells". Yes, there was only one of them.

It's a huge relief to read that you don't think my bees are thinking about swarming.  I've been freaking out about it and thinking I need to do all kinds of interventions.  I *think* the bees have everything they need -- a queen who appears to be doing her best with what she's got, a few empty frames to work on, what appears to be a nice pollen and nectar flow at the moment, a robber screen to protect their tiny colony, and a dummy board keeping the hive size cozy.  Being the newbee that I am, maybe I made way too much out of that one queen cell.  So I'm gonna calm down and see how things look next weekend.

Thanks for gently chilling me out. :)
No problem, I'm very happy to help.  :happy:  I think that sounds like a pretty good situation for a new hive too.  Be sure to keep a mind on your flow and don't be afraid to feed them if they are still behind and you get a dearth.  Calming down, taking a step back, and waiting to see what the bees do next is usually a good idea when you are unsure what's going on in a hive or what to do about it.  Newbees are sometimes warned so heavily about queen cells and swarming, but swarming isn't normally a problem until a hive is large enough to feel the need to split themselves. 

I plan to do monthly sugar rolls to check for mites, starting in a couple weeks.  I've been checking the mite board under the hive in the meantime.  So far, no beetles or mites.  The bees can't get to the board, so I dusted it with DE before installing the bees.  If anything does fall through, the DE should send them to glory.  If a mite problem develops, I definitely will treat with the dreaded chemicals.  My goal is to work my way into having resilient bees.  The transition will take some time, so in the meantime, I'll take good care of the bees I have. 
 
I meant to pick up on this earlier and then forgot to mention it.  I seem to have a similar philosophy to yours on this topic.  I too am working toward more mite-tolerant bees, reproducing my stronger colonies and slowly trying to improve my genetics, but I absolutely agree that treating or otherwise dealing with a mite-infested colony is a necessity to avoid infecting other nearby colonies when an unhealthy one crashes.  I wanted to let you know that there are plenty of organic treatment options that will work just as well as hard chemical treatments if a mite issue is caught early enough.  I have used some successfully in the past.  I'm working towards using only IPM/mite trapping methods to keep varroa under control, but I'm not quite there yet. 

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