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Thread: Swarming or supercedure

  1. #1

    Default Swarming or supercedure

    After two or more weeks of poor weather (low temperature, cloudy, rain), and the June gap, one of my six hives has an unsealed Q cell. Last inspection was 28/5 (6 frames well-patterned healthy brood) when the Q and all brood stages were present and one of two supers was heavy with spring honey.
    Inspection today showed many empty frames in the brood box, little sealed honey in the brood box but plenty of pollen stores and only two brood frames with eggs, larvae and sealed brood, one of which had an unsealed large Q cell. There were five other Q cups but none had been laid in.
    I cannot decide whether The hive is about to swarm or whether a supercedure is in progress. Can anyone help with a decision?
    Alan.

  2. #2

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    Decision made - I am leaving the Q cell - reckoning that this hive will not swarm.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Adam's Avatar
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    And did they?

  4. #4

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    Well Adam,
    I inspected 24th June and there was no sealed Q cell or any other Q cup with eggs or larvae - and no sign of an empty mature Q cell. There were eggs, larvae and Q cells on two frames.
    My decision to leave the Q cell was based on the assumption that with such poor weather, so little brood box honey stored (although there was plenty of super honey), and Qs in my apiary largely off-lay, supercedure was more likely than swarming.
    Why the colony decided to do neither and stay with the existing Q, is an open question.
    Do you ( or anyone) know what drives a colony to destroy a charged Q cell?
    Alan.

  5. #5
    Senior Member fatshark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alancooper View Post
    Do you ( or anyone) know what drives a colony to destroy a charged Q cell?
    In a couple of colonies this year it's been due to pure bloody-mindedness

    Maybe they make an evolutionary judgement call ... what are the chances the new Q will get out and get mated in this weather/forage availability vs sticking with the old girl until conditions improve?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Adam's Avatar
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    I certainly have seen failing queens that will keep destroying queencells - cells broken down from the side. (I had one this year in fact, so I caged her for a week or so to allow the queencells to mature and luckily pulled her out at the time just one queencell was open. I opened another one up and let a second queen out to be sure there was one in the hive, and then removed all the rest. Colonies won't swarm without queencells and virgins in the hive, so any virgins sorted it out for themselves and one took over the colony).
    I guess Fatshark is right - if the conditions are poor, why would the colony want to risk a new queen, maybe it's better to keep who you know...

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by alancooper View Post
    I inspected 24th June and there was no sealed Q cell or any other Q cup with eggs or larvae - and no sign of an empty mature Q cell. There were eggs, larvae and Q cells on two frames.
    Note my error - “Q cells” should have read “Q cups”.

    I inspected the hive again 5th June. There were 5 frames of brood (one with eggs) and a few Q cups, with brood and eggs in a good pattern. Last inspection ( 24th) had 4 frames brood, two with eggs and larvae and a few Q cups.
    The current Q was introduced 2018 and my records show a lower honey yield than my other hives, last year and this year. There were 7 frames brood in April this year. The colony was cross this May and on 24th June and bees from hell on 5th June (my colonies are local black bees and largely great to work with).
    I am now considering replacing the Q in a couple of weeks if the weather allows Apidea mating but will let you know how the colony progresses and what I eventually do.
    Alan.

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