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Queen cells in new hive

Hello! I am a newbie and am not sure what is going on with my new hive. I installed my nuc at the end of May. Things were going well. Spotted my queen, had capped brood, larvae, and eggs. New frames were drawn out so well that I added a 2nd brood box. At my last inspection, they had drawn out comb in the new brood box and there were eggs, larvae and capped brood in both boxes. That was about 10 days ago. At the rate they were going, I was thinking I would be able to add my flow super. But during this inspection, there seems to be less bees and activity. I can see small larvae and a small amount of capped brood but no eggs and a lot less stored honey. There are also a number of closed queen cells. Some on the bottom of the frames and some are not. There is also very little progress on the 2nd brood box. What has happened? I am assuming that I am queenless but could they have swarmed? There was plenty of space for them. What should I do now?

Any insight would be appreciated!

It certainly sounds like they have swarmed. Unless you inspect the brood boxes weekly, it is very hard to catch a sneaky swarm event. Not very practical for most people, but that is what you need to do to stay on top of the colony.

I have a couple of very detailed leaflets for you to read. One of the files is quite big, so you may need to be patient while it downloads. They will give you a lot more knowledge and management suggestions than most people have time to type on the forum. You may find them intimidating at first (I did, and I have over 30 years’ beekeeping experience), but don’t let that put you off. Just keep reading and re-reading, and eventually the main concepts will sink in.


Dawn, thanks for the information. I need to get reading.
Should I let them re-queen themselves or will I need a new queen? I’m concerned about a secondary swarm. Should I remove some of the queen cells? :roll_eyes:

You can let them re-queen, unless you have Africanized bees in your area (less likely).

That is what those leaflets will tell you, in detail. Worth a read. I can’t give you a straight answer without inspecting your hive. However, there is plenty of advice in those documents to make you very competent at dealing with this. :wink:

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I always leave them alone:

Which queen cell would you be removing? The queen that would have turned out to be stellar? We just don’t know.

Check back in 2-3 weeks for eggs.

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My bees have been very docile, so fingers crossed. I’m really hoping the girls get this figured out. I don’t want to lose this hive.

I am only a few years into to beekeeping and my thinking was like yours- i didn’t just worry that I would remove the best queen- I worried that if there is ony one left it might fail. However last spring I had two hives that swarmed in someone elses yard where I was keeping them. As I didn’t want any risk of an afterswarm I went in and nipped all the queen cells save one. It worked perfectly- both queens made it and by autumn both hives were very strong. I am looking forward to working those two in spring as they both hove lovely young queens.

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Don’t worry too much just yet- the hive shoudldbe fine. However it may take them a few months to fully recover and you might not get as much(or any) honey this year as you would have if they didn’t swarm. Swarming is a sign of success from the colonies point of view- they did so well they decided to start another colony somewhere else. Most times the bees manage to requeen and bounce back. The one advantage for you is that you will now know that your new queen is very young- and the chances of swarming next spring are a little lower that they are with an older queen.

You will need to check in the hive in about 20 to 25 days to check to make sure that the new queen has managed to get mated and started to lay well. If she hasn’t - then you may need to take some actions (buy a new queen- or dontate a frame of eggs and brrod from another hive) to save the hive.

You also want to try and calculate when the hive swarmed- and qwhen the new queens are due to be emerge- and try not to look into the hive durign the period where the new queens have emerged and are in the process of doing their mating flights. they are quite fragile at that time and an inspection could causeher to be killed somehow. Most people agree it is best to leave a hive well alone during that period.

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Thanks for the information. There seems to be a lot of activity in and out of the hive so I’m hopeful that things will work themselves out. The hard part, for me, is waiting. As a new beek, I look forward to inspections to see how things are progressing. But I’m not going to chance jeopardizing the new queen, so waiting it will be. :wink:

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Leaving the bees alone till the new queen in laying eggs and there is brood in the frames and the colony is settling it is important that they be left alone so as to ‘bond’ to the hive. So I agree with @Semaphore that the best you can do for the colony is to let it settle in before doing inspections.
Take the time to relax, observe and enjoy your bees.

Update: well I inspected my hive today. I ended up waiting 29 days, due to a scheduled vacation. There was very little change in the 2nd brood box that I had previously added. I may even remove it. Very little drawn out comb. My lower brood box with my original nuc frames was full of bees. They were not as docile as they normally are. In fact I got stung, which hasn’t happened before. I did see the 2 open queen cells that I left there along with an additional capped queen cell. There was larvae and capped brood but I did not see any eggs. There was also very little honey or pollen stored. I am attaching pictures. I don’t think they are drone cells but take a look and tell me what you think. At this point, I’m not sure what to do. I’m going to feed them but I’m not sure if I should try to re-queen this hive or continue to let it ride. I’m worried about this hive surviving. Any kernels of wisdom would be appreciated. :disappointed:

Sorry forgot to attach the photos. :woman_facepalming:t2: I’ll get the hang of this one of these days.
Uploading: 2B3C087C-37FB-41C7-8953-0947012CF314.jpeg… Uploading: 34AFB4D5-64B3-4D7F-9B4C-8D027AEA16C3.jpeg… Uploading: 5C16B678-3DD5-473E-AAAD-67B64FF4717E.jpeg… Uploading: 124D1457-D52D-4403-AADE-241EB5965180.jpeg… Uploading: C0DD0135-1789-42A4-82C4-B3C8E6F4E729.jpeg…

I’m hopeless. What did I do wrong? Why aren’t my pictures showing?

If you have uncapped larvae and capped brood, you have had a laying queen in the hive within the last 8 days. It is normal for bees to be cranky during a dearth, and much of the US is in a dearth at this time of year. I wouldn’t requeen them now, unless the brood pattern is poor.

Feeding is a great idea, as is removing any unused space.

You may not have waited long enough for the photos upload before pressing reply. Wait for the uploading comment to disappear and it should work.

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Thanks. Here goes…
Uploading: 9A485B24-BAB1-4BF8-8A53-FE4330446842.jpeg…

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I waited a loooong time before pressing reply. Can you only send one pic at a time? I am technologically challenged. So frustrating!!!

You should be able to post several. I would suggest using a different platform. If you are trying to post from a phone, perhaps try a laptop or desktop computer instead. Sorry you are having so much trouble. Full marks for trying so hard though! :heart_eyes:

I am also technologically challenged. What I find easy to do is upload the photos onto the desktop, then drag them across to the comment with the reduced window on the left of the screen & the photos on the right side of the desktop. Use a separate paragraph for each photo or any comment in between the photos.


Third time’s a charm. Fingers crossed!