Swarms, virgins and queens

A queen cell that has been opened by the emerging queen.
The new queen.

Didn’t want it to happen but it did.
Looked into the hive at Wallington and found that the super was untouched. 10 frames of foundation and not a bee on them.
The super had been there for 3 weeks so I suspected something was amiss.
On further inspection at the 2 deep boxes I was using for brood I found no queen and 12 capped queen cells!
This meant that they had swarmed. They had run out of room and should have gone upstairs to the super but for some reason the workers hadn’t gone through the queen excluder. I had heard this could happen but hadn’t seen it before. They had then started to raise new queens and when they were capped over the old queen took half the colony to find a new place. This explained why there wasn’t many flying bees and the not so crowded colony.
I wasn’t sure what to do so left them as they were and went home to do some research.
Decided that the best thing to do was to split the hive. I had 2 deeps and 2 shallow in the one hive which meant I could split them into two quite easily.
I built the floor and roof for the WBC (which I had had lying around fortunately) and took it down to the site the next day.
My plan was to leave each of the hives with one good queen cell so there would be no chance of a cast swarm.
Opened the hive and took off the queen cells and placed them in a box until I was sure they were none left in the hive. So far so good.
Too my surprise when I looked into the box at the capped queen cells I saw a queen wandering around. I picked her up and put her in a queen cage. When I looked in the box again 3 more came out. I caged them and quickly split the hive. One deep and shallow for each. This meant that I was just in time. If I had left it any longer to visit the hive a virgin would have emerged and swarmed again with half of the remaining bees. This would have depleted the colony to a state of possible failure.
Since I was sure the hives were now queen cell-less I put one virgin into each of the hives, waited for a minute, and put the second virgin in too. Figured I would let them fight it out – survival of the fittest and all that.
2 more queens emerged in the process but I had to cull them since I didn’t have any nucs or mini nucs for them. (Would have been nice to have a mini nuc to take off site to get her to mate)
This was on Wed 20th and since then the weather has been cold and wet. This reduces her mating chances. Fingers crossed that she does mate.
If anyone has a suggestion on when I should check the hive for eggs let me know. I have been told to wait 14 days and 20 days.
It was all quite exciting but I should not have let it happen in the first place.

The queen about to come out
An opened cell showing a not quite ready queen.
A cell with the larvae of a queen

One thought on “Swarms, virgins and queens

  1. workerbeej

    I tried one word at a time in the Turkish Dictionary for Language Learners (turkishdictionary.net) – but this is the best I could come up with: “How many [kilograms?] sugar seven these [be ne] what/how colouring [yaa].” Not entirely helpful, is it? ;-)

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