Queen cells, how do you react?


I have been growing some young hives pretty fast, feeding them. I have a second hive now that has made some queen cells. I split the hive to make a place to house a queen. I could not find the queen in either split and finally put the new queen in with some brood from yet another hive. I ended up with 3 splits. I guess the one with the queen cells is the one without a queen. I was planning to merge the queenless split with the new queen and the baby bees but all three look pretty healthy.

So do I leave the split with the queen cells to make their own or try to destroy cells, hoping I do not miss a virgin, and merge the two? This is a constant problem in beekeeping. I am wondering what strategy people here use when they find queen cells. I guess it kinda depends on what ones goals are. I have been trying to grow my hive numbers but I am now at about the number I want for the next year.

I just bought two, double body Nuc's (medium depth, I use all mediums). I am thinking that when I get them built I may use one to house frames with young bees and queen cells. I guess I can always kill weaker queens and merge their colonies with another weak colony which appears to have a better queen. More queens means more bees and more everything and at the moment I need more supers full of drawn comb.

I never allow hives to propogate on their own if I can help it.  It is too radical a process to allow it to go unfettered.  When they split by propagating their own queen (or queens) precious time is lost in the production process.  Alot of inactivity surrounds the process.  Also it seems the newly hatched queen requires a certain amount of time to come into her own in regards to motivating the bees.  Bee advised there is such a thing as a lazy queen to.  

If your intent is to expand your hive numbers then keep feeding them until you get 2 hive bodies drawn out and then purchase another queen, splitting the hive a couple of days previous to the new queens arrival.  Always keep the bees working and with plenty of work to do in the process.  I have become quite fond of the Buckfast queens developed by Brother Adam at the Buckfast Abbey in England.  Those queens have exhibited a great propensity to produce honey and resist the many diseases that now plague us as an industry (See  I have had great success in propagating swarms in this manner.  

Hope this helps.

I too prefer commercial queens. As a matter of fact the triple split exists as a result of my splitting a hive as you suggest to house a new Buckfast queen fresh from Weavers. Since I could not locate the queen in either split after several attempts and seemed to have young brood in both I made a third composed of nothing but young bees to house her.

My question does not have to do with trying to raise my own queens. Unfortunately sooner or later we all get queen cells in our hives my question has to do with how to handle "unwanted, unplanned queen cells". I have found it hard to be sure that all cells. all virgin queens and all young mated queens have been eliminated from a hive that I find with queen cells, even if I try to eliminate them. I also find it hard to introduce a new queen to a hive that is, or recently was, in the process of making their own.

I am just starting to consider splitting any colony that shows up with queen cells. Putting any existing queen and the queen cells in one half and the rest in the other half. I then have something I can order a commercial queen for. At the same time I do not run the risk of slowing down the natural process by trying to keep it from happening. Assuming I end up with one split with a commercial queen and one with a naturally produced queen. I can either: kill the remaining natural queen and merge the older half with the new split and commercial queen or if the natural queen seems worthy keep both colonies for a while and reap the benefits of two queens.


--- Quote from: Lupus ---I have been growing some young hives pretty fast, feeding them. ...........
--- End quote ---

I buy every year 2-3 queens from commercial raiser. I have now 18 colonies. I raise also every year 20-30 queens and take eggs from those commercial queens. The loss of queens from hatched to egg laying is about 50%.  Many things happen. Many is died in the safe cage.

Many accicents happen before new, egg laying queens are in the hive. If queen seems bad, I throw it away.

I renew 80% my queens every year. New queens are good egg layers and they swarm less than old ones.

It is dangerous to take queens from swarming hives. They inherit they swarming habits. It is bad for honey yield. I may take they own raised queen but I change it when I get better one.

If mother is good why not you take daughter from it?

I have kept bees 42 years. To raise queens is one of the most interesting point. Just to get honey is not interesting any more, for many years. It must be something new every time happening that I am motivated to do that routine work like take honey away and sell it.

Having kept bees for 30 + years I would have to agree with Finman.  For a couple of years I tried to ignore the queen / re-queen issue but it is one that doesn't go away.  You are far better to aggressively pursue good queens and their bloodlines than you are to accept poor performing queens which have a tendency to propagate the bad swarming habits.  I have had the best of queens and the worst of queens.  An old beekeeper that got me started once told me many years ago that you are better to shake out bad performing bees and start over than to keep them and endure their nonsense.  At the time I thought him very harsh.  But now after much spent on materials and labor to redo equipment damaged by wax moths and the like, his wisdom is doubtless!

Hope this helps.


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