About a week ago, I found about a dozen queen cells in hive one, which I had already split just a week before that. This hive swarmed last spring, too, and I had to requeen it. None of the cells were capped yet and I thought, erroneously, that I could prevent a swarm by removing the cells. I was fortunate that the hive had not yet swarmed because the queen laid new eggs and the nurse bees began raising a new batch of queens.
I still hoped to at least do a swarm split by moving the old queen along with some brood to a new hive set-up, but I was away from the house during the day for 4 days straight (hey, I have a life aside from the bees) and they apparently swarmed during that time because there is very little uncapped larva, no eggs, but most important, no queen. So, I split the queen cells between the old hive and a new hive and both hives will have virgin queens. I expect to have to replace them if those queen raise the same type of aggressive bees my last virgin queen did.
Next year, as soon as I see queen cells, I’ll move the old queen to a nuc (a mini-hive) so I don’t loose another valuable queen. We certainly need more bees out there, but loosing queens in a swarm feels like throwing money out to the wind.
This spring, I went from two hives to five and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the sudden increase. After an inspection of hive two, I was pleased to see eggs and larva in both early and late stages. I also saw a few new bees coming out of their cells. According to the calendar, the eggs of those hatching bees were laid by the old queen around the 8th of April. She was removed a few days after that, so the last of her brood should be hatching this week and then within a few weeks I should see a change in the demeanor of the hive as the new queen’s brood hatches.