They swarmed from just the one queen cell and now only emergency QC’s left??

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    • #6567
      Gary T

      Having gone though swarm prevention a colony has just swarmed from the one queen cell I left! All I can find in the hive now are emergency queen cells. I’ve caught the swarm which can only have a virgin queen. Can I re-unite it back to the (queenless) colony it came from?

      The timeline is:

      Tue 19 April: found 3 x charged queen cups. Did a nuc split, moving the queen, couple of frames of brood etc into a nuc. This is a big colony with 3 super on,

      Tue 26 April: Check the colony, found ~8 sealed QCs. Identifie best on, knocked all the rest off (shook bees off all the other frames) and removed anything else that looked like a queen cell, leaving just the one good one.

      Mon 02 May: They swarmed! Onto a rose arch (interestingly exactly same place I had a swarm last year) so easy to catch. Not a big swarm considering the size of the colony; perhaps a small football.
      Checked the hive and the one QC was opened. On inspecting all frames found 4 emergency queen cells; left the biggest and removed the rest.

      Thus I now have:

      Original queen in a nuc
      The main colony seems to only have an emergency queen cell
      The swarm, with I presume a virgin queen, in another nuc (not yet looked for the queen)

      My questions are:

      What can I do with the swarm? Ted Hooper talks about unting it back to the original colony and letting the bees decide what queen to keep. If I do this do I need to wait a couple of weeks for the virgin queen to mate or just do it now and the virgin queen in the swarm becomes the queen for the hive?

      Why did they swarm? I was diligent in leaving only one QC and shook the bees of every frame to be sure (well apaert from the one with teh QC I was keeping and I used my fingers to move the bees all the way round that frame). I know the probable answer is that I must have missed a QC but all I’m finding now are short, stubby QCs on the face of the comb that to me have all the look and feel of being emrgency QC.

    • #6576
      David Jones

      You did not necessarily miss QCs. I think it’s just as likely that they still had viable larvae on 26 Apr that they have fed up into emergency QCs.  I know that 7 days should mean that the larvae are over 3 days old, but I wonder exactly what time you took the queen out, exactly what time you took down all the other QCs etc, and, in the end, bees don’t stick to the hard-and-fast numbers in the books.  Quite possibly the emergency QCs have very poor queens that will not be fertile. When this happened to me, I put one of the emergency QCs in a nuc and tried to raise it, but I never got her to lay

      I don’t see any problem uniting the cast swarm with the (soon to be) broodless bees remaining in the original hive – assuming you have removed all the emergency QCs, of course!


    • #6578
      Gary T


      Thanks. I think re-uniting is the way to go as I’m out of kit – and space!.

      I did leave one emergency QC so will need to remove that – and check for others, of course. What still confuses me is why they built emergency QC when there was 8/9 sealed ‘proper’ swarm queen cells a week later.

      I looked in the wax box today where we put the emergency QC we removed yesterday and saw a head and antennae moving so cut the wax away. Definitely a queen but sooo small.

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