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Low brood, and supersedure cells

Hi all!

I’ve done some research and can’t really find an answer, so I thought to ask my trusty Flow peeps. Last week when inspecting my new package hive (which was installed April 27), I found two supersedure cells. They were uncapped, but relatively large and the bees were going in and out of them. There was not a lot of brood, and my eye is not yet experienced enough to find eggs or the queen herself. There was young larvae and capped brood, so they had all stages, just not as much as I had expected. There is a little bit of pollen going into the hive, and they have some stored nectar and pollen. I also gave them a frame of honey and pollen/nectar from my other hive during last week’s inspection.

So my question is this: how often should I check on those supersedure cells? I want to see if they need a frame of brood from my strong hive (they are doing AMAZING, by the way… overwintered beautifully) but I don’t want to disturb them too much if they are trying to raise a new queen. Should I go in to take a peak tomorrow? Or leave them for another week?

Thank you!

Leave them for a week Erin, don’t be surprised if if those queen cells get made but never used, I call them ‘play cells’ and it is common for a colony to make one or two. Even when the colony want to replace the queen more often they will make a new cell than use the play cell. Have a look in a week and if they are serious the queen cell will have larvae in it if it isn’t already capped.

I checked the hive today and BOY am I glad that I did… The hive was full of capped drone brood. There was some larvae also but I’m willing to bet they were drones also, considering there was no other worker brood. The bees seemed very listless, didn’t care much that I was in the hive, they didn’t fit up to check me out, and weren’t even buzzing. Very lackluster. One of the queen cells was capped, but it looked kindof deflated and flattened? Again I could not find the queen and there were no eggs. So I took a frame of worker brood from my other hive and put it into this hive. There was capped worker brood, larvae, and some eggs so hopefully this will give a much needed boost and they can correct themselves and make a new queen.

I’m not sure if the old queen (her name is Paige) died, was damaged and is a drone layer, or if I have laying workers… but I hope the babies I gave them can help turn things around. So now I will wait and see… if nothing good happens, I think I’ll have to get a new queen. How long should I wait to check them again?

It sounds like the hive is queen-less Erin and adding a frame of eggs and larvae up to 3 days old is the best approach. If the hive is queen-less the bees will make queen cells on that frame. I would in a weeks time check the frame for queen cells and larvae in them. If you find that that is good but if there is no queen cells then if the other hive is strong donate another frame of eggs over to the queen-less hive. You could knock down the ‘deflated’ queen cell, maybe it didn’t develop to maturity for some reason. Eggs over 3 days old are too old for the bees to develop to a queen.
I had one hive that was definately queen-less about 6 months ago, I accidentally killed her during an inspection. After 2 weeks there was no queen cells so weekly I gave the hive a frame of eggs and it took 5 more weeks till I found queen cells made. That was in Summer – go figure. I don’t know why the colony didn’t make a new queen having the dead queens eggs or from the donated eggs for so long.