I opened my hive for its weekly inspection and found 3 sealed queen cells in there.
I could not find the original marked queen but could see brood at all stages of development from egg to actual hatching 'baby' bees, so I am confident the queen was in there.
So following the literature I have removed all queen cells and will wait for a week to see if any new ones develop. If they do I will try to find the queen and perform a nucleus artificial swarm.
I have also give the bees more space to try and reduce crowding and offset the queen making instinct.
I just wanted to know if there was anything wrong with what I have done or anything else I could do at this stage?
If the bees continue to build queen cells they are likely to want to swarm, in which case carry out an artificial swarm. They will then most likely want to replace the old queen after she has started the new colony. As they would in the wild.
Thanks Keith. That was the logic I was working to. Good to know I wasnt missing something.
Ok so an update and request for advice again.
So I opened up the hive for an inspection yesterday (so 7 days since last inspection when I removed 3 queen cells).
I discovered many many queen cells this time (10-15), apprpc 50% sealed
There was a huge number of bees so i dont believe they had swarmed.
I could not find any evidence of the orginal queen , i.e no sighting, no eggs but loads of sealed brood.
I decided on quick reflection that my queen has gone,died etc. and removed all queen cell (and anything looking a bit like one) leaving 1 sealed queen cell.
My theory being that my orginal queen is no more and this new one will replace her.
The bees were also extremely agressive - followers lingered for 3-4 hours outside the house and stung neighbours. I wonder if a declining queen has started their bad behaviour and queenlessness is now making this worse?
Any advice or comments?
I have a feeling that perhaps your old queen had left with a swarm by the time you did your original inspection where you found sealed queen cells - the theory is that the old queen will leave on the first good flying day once the first queen cell has been sealed. Remembering that eggs take three days to hatch into larvae, seeing eggs on that previous occasion was an indication that the queen had been there within the last three days but she was not necessarily there at the time. If that was the case, on your inspection yesterday the queen cells that you saw would have been emergency cells built by the bees in recognition of the loss of both the queen and the other queen cells that you broke down - a worker larva up to a couple of days old can be turned into a queen if need be, as can worker eggs of course. The best course of action yesterday given that you couldn't find evidence of the queen being present (you didn't see her and there were no eggs) would actually have been to keep one unsealed queen cell rather than a sealed one as you would know for certain that there is a larva present in an unsealed queen cell whereas there is an element of doubt with a sealed one.
The bad behaviour may be a symptom of their queenlessness, so hopefully that will settle down again once the colony is back to being queenright. Saying that, my colony was queenless for most of the summer last year due to swarming followed by virgins failing to return from their mating flights yet the bees were extremely calm throughout.
I think your best course of action now would be to leave them alone for three or four weeks. It will take another week for the virgin queen to hatch, then she has got to get mated and start laying and during that time it's better not to disturb them. Given that they're behaving badly at the moment, leaving them to it probably comes as a relief!
Others may have different opinions and advice to offer and I'm certainly no expert!
Keep us up to date with what happens.
Thanks for this - leaving them is exactly what I am going to do.
I am also going to move them to a safe place whilst they are being little sods and then assess the character of the new queen's progeny before resorting to re-queening.