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Author Topic: Queen cell dilemma.  (Read 1348 times)

Offline Richard M

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Queen cell dilemma.
« on: January 24, 2016, 02:23:19 am »
I picked up a small swarm a couple of weeks ago (12 Jan), checked them last weekend, no eggs laid and couldn't see a queen, so I figured a cast swarm with virgin queen so still hard to spot. To help them along, I added a couple of frames of brood from another hive and fed them on sugar syrup, it being drought and not much happening flowering-wise.

Had a look today, now many more bees than previously and all remaining brood is capped but I reckon that if they had a queen, then she's gone AWOL because it looks like there are now three queen cells in there (see photo below), two capped one still open.



So first question - is this a queen cell? It fits the bill as an emergency queen, being in the centre of the frame but it looks smaller than the others I've seen previously; I think whatever's in there will be a pretty poor specimen.

Second question, I decided to requeen this hive anyway, simply because once my bee sting desensitisation course is finished in 4 months, this hive and its sister are coming back to my place on a small lot in the burbs and I want them both to be headed by a queen known to be from a quiet strain.

So ...... I have a queen on order, she's due some time in the first week in Feb. (ie 7-14 days from now).

My Plan A was that by then, the presumed virgin queen would be mature enough for me to easily find and remove her. Problem is that if I assume that thee queens were started the day I added the frames of brood (Saturday 16th Jan) and they were capped late yesterday or earlier today (one is not yet capped), then they'll emerge around next Sunday 31 Jan or Monday 1st Feb and it will be a couple of weeks after that before the surviving queen is fully developed enough to be spotted by a duffer like me.

I'll then have all sorts of difficulties introducing the bought queen if I cannot find and dispatch the incumbent.

So my dilemma is, do I just destroy these cells before the queens emerge and leave them queenless with no means of making another queen, for another week or so, or do I destroy them and add another frame of brood to keep them busy and then destroy any further queen cells when the new queen arrives?

I'm worried that if I leave them queenless and with no queen in development for too long that they'll collectively get sh!t on the liver and reject any queen I try to introduce later on.

Are my concerns warranted and is it safe to leave them completely queenless for perhaps a couple of weeks or should I give them some more new brood to keep them busy?



« Last Edit: January 24, 2016, 05:53:37 am by Richard M »

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Queen cell dilemma.
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2016, 10:28:32 am »
Richard,
That is an emergency queen cell. I would definantly not kill them. The bees will select the best ones. They will kill a queen-larva  if they do not think it is a good one.
The queen you ordered is not a guaranteed thing. Until it is in your hive and is laying, it is a bird in the bush.
Jim
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain

Offline Dallasbeek

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Re: Queen cell dilemma.
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2016, 05:09:38 pm »
Queen larvae emit queen pheromones, so in their minds they are not presently queenless. That's something to consider in whether or not you destroy the queen cells.  Destroy them and they WILL be queenless.  If you decide to destroy them, you'll want them queenless less than 24 hours before adding a caged queen.  If you can't work with that timeline, don't destroy them.
"Liberty lives in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no laws, no court can save it." - Judge Learned Hand, 1944

Online cao

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Re: Queen cell dilemma.
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2016, 05:45:57 pm »
If I had a queen already ordered for that hive, I would consider pulling the frames with queen cells and putting them in a mating nuc.  That way if your bought queen isn't accepted you still have a backup.  I personally don't like killing queens or queen cells.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Queen cell dilemma.
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2016, 05:47:28 pm »
The only time I would EVER destroy a queen cell is when the genetics of the hive that produced the cell is so bad that I cannot face continuing that line of genetics...
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Offline capt44

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Re: Queen cell dilemma.
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2016, 09:12:10 pm »
As mentioned those are emergency cells and I would  leave them alone unless you are wanting to change the genetics.
Richard Vardaman (capt44)

Offline Michael Bush

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Offline Richard M

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Re: Queen cell dilemma.
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2016, 02:59:40 am »
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfallacies.htm#queencellsbad

Well the good news is that there's a laying queen in there, the less good news is that I think there could also be a laying worker as I found a couple of cells with 2 eggs in them; I suspect this is a result of being queenless for a while but I don't propose to get into a sweat over it.

I think you've got a good point with that contribution Michael vis a vis locally bred/adapted bees.

We picked up a swarm last year, no idea where they came from but the bees in this hive are 57 varieties of. Interesting thing is that we've had a horrendous drought his summer, pretty disastrous as regards nectar/honey flows (not to mention thousands of hives and hectares of forest burned); my hives with bought/specialist bred queens have just about survived but only made enough honey to get themselves through the winter, however the feral swarm hive from Dec 2014 has managed to fill 2 ideal boxes.

We really need to requeen a couple of hives next summer; I'm seriously thinking thinking of setting up a couple of queenless nucs with some frames of new brood from this hive next Spring and see if we can't make some more of these queens as they seem to be a better strain - remarkably docile too, which has been a pleasant surprise.

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Queen cell dilemma.
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2016, 10:14:07 pm »
Richard,
Finding 2 eggs in a cell does not always mean a laying worker. It could also mean that you have a new queen.
Were the eggs on the bottom of the cell or the side. If they were on the bottom. You have a new queen maybe laying side by side with the old queen.
If they are on the side of the cells, you probably have a laying workers.
More than likely you have a new queen.
Jim
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Offline Richard M

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Re: Queen cell dilemma.
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2016, 12:20:50 am »
Richard,
Finding 2 eggs in a cell does not always mean a laying worker. It could also mean that you have a new queen.
Were the eggs on the bottom of the cell or the side. If they were on the bottom. You have a new queen maybe laying side by side with the old queen.
If they are on the side of the cells, you probably have a laying workers.
More than likely you have a new queen.
Jim

Yeah, you're right. 2 eggs on the bottom centre and only in a few of the cells - most of them were singletons, no triplets/quads etc so looks like it is a new queen.

I was puzzled as there was also a reasonable amount of big fat worker brood ready to be capped there too, so I knew there must be a queen in there but perhaps not yet fully developed size-wise so hard for me to spot; I figured that with all the buggering about, one or 2 workers must have got ideas above their station.

I'll have a look in a couple of weeks and once identified, mark her. I gave them three full depth frames full of capped brood from other hives plus 6Kg (13lbs) of 2:1 syrup to get cracking on before the Autumn (4 weeks away officially) and we're in drought so SFA nectar coming in. Reasonable amount of pollen though - from where I don't know.

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Queen cell dilemma.
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2016, 07:31:39 am »
Glad to hear it is a new queen. Sounds like a good plan.
Jim
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain