Now that I have kept bees for a while I see swarm attempts and an opportunity to make new queens. Luckly I am a teacher with summers off so I can baby sit a hive that won’t give up. Raising queens is my favorite thing in beekeeping. I don’t have the stock to graft and breed queens but I can certainly take swarm queens and watch them get mated and start new colonies. This was a classic case of the bees doing what they want regardless of the rules. I had a hive that was cruzing along but not making any honey and too small for the time of year. I took out the queen and gave them and mated queen from Hudson Valley Bee Supply, who uses Sam Comfort queens, my favorite. When I went to check for eggs I found eggs and swarm cells. Remember this hive had made no honey, it should be happy with a new queen. Well maybe the bees had made a virgin and she was in the hive upon installation. Maybe they killed my queen. At any rate, I had a problem. I took out around 13 frames. I put all the cells in two nucs and I thought that is that.
Next time I come back I find swarm cells. This time I see the queen. She is small and thin. She is still laying. I take a whole box off. I give them a new box of drawn frames. Can you guess what I found when I went to check on them the next time? The original hive is in the little hive in the back of the photo. The three boxes in front are all the queen cells trying to mate.
This is the failing queen
Luckly by this time the virgin queen in the nuc had started to lay and I was able to put the whole mess back together into one queen rite hive.
Swarm or Supersedure?
I have always had a theory that swarms and supersedures are not as different as we think. Sometimes the bees swarm to get rid of a queen they don’t like. The first time I found cells it was classic swarm arrangement, many cells on the bottom of the frames. By the last attempt (I think there were four total) it looked like supersedure. The bees didn’t like the queen and they were going to get rid of her one way or another.
So why didn’t I just let them do their thing? They could have swarmed. I got two mated queens out of it. I have a nuc to over winter and now I have a hive that is looking pretty strong. If I had left them alone they could have flown away or they could have not sucessfully mated with would put the whole hive at risk.
Luckly I ended up with two new queens. This beauty is from the nuc. You can tell she looks quite different then the queen above.