Queen Cells Galore

Hi folks
I performed a split a three weeks back and checked the original hive on the weekend. Harvested 1 flow frame of honey and then inspected the broodbox to see how it was faring and discovered approx. 6 queen cells and quite a few drones running around.
Does this mean that the old queen has died or are they still preparing to swarm? There was no queen in the second hive as I checked it after a week and the bees were building queen cells so I presume the original queen was left in the original hive.
I am in Esperance WA and we have plenty of forage and the weather is warming up nicely.

Appreciate any feedback.

Did you see the queen in the original hive? and what about eggs? What location on the frames did you find the queen cells and were those queen cells capped? the uncapped cells did they have larva and royal jelly in them? Lots of questions and factors to consider, and Splitting a hive is no guarantee to prevent swarming. Chances are if those cells are viable then you will have swarming from that hive, sometimes just entering the brood box at this time of the year will trigger the bees to swarm, not sure why but I see it regularly. With multiple queen cells in a hive, and one that has been split, I would check for a laying queen first, and if she is only a young queen (ie less than 2 years old) I will destroy all the queen cells, bear in mind you will need to make sure she is in the hive and laying well.

Hi Chris, I also have questions. It’s important to figure out if the queen cells, assuming they are viable, are emergency queen cells or swarm cells. Emergency queen cells will be made from existing brood. Swarm cells are made slightly away from the existing brood. If emergency queen cells, that would indicate the queen got killed or removed during the last inspection. If swarm cells, as you know, the colony wants to swarm.

I take a split away so that no bees return to the parent hive. I also take the most mature brood with the split. That works for me & buys me a bit of time before the colony is likely to want to swarm.

It’s best to do preemptive splits. That is: split the colony before it makes any initial preparations to swarm. That will, in most cases delay the colonies urge to swarm.

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Thanks gents.

  • I couldn’t see the queen in the original hive.
  • Three of the queen cells were capped and a couple were not. They were about two frames in from the edge of the hive on the newly built out comb.
  • Didn’t look inside the uncapped cells.
    -There are still good numbers of bees in the brood box and good numbers in the honey super.
  • Should I go back in for another look?

Hi Chris, take another look for sure. Sometimes queens can be hard to spot. It’s just that if you think the bees fabricated queen cells by reconstructing worker cells, you’ll know they are emegency cells. In that case the colony wont swarm in the majority of cases. If the queen cells are on original queen cups, they’ll be swarm cells. If that’s the case, the colony will swarm. If you don’t see any new eggs, well, chances are they are emergency queen cells. During inspections, queens, especially young queens are vulnerable to getting balled & killed. I’ve seen it happen more than once, which is why I came to that conclusion. I wasn’t being rough or anything. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it happening. I previously read about it, then saw it happening. I rescued a couple of queens by breaking the ball up. They run pretty fast after that.

Thanks Jeff, I’ll have a squiz this weekend and hope I haven’t missed the boat.

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