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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Williston, NC, USA
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    1,779

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    This is my first time overwintering and I'm wondering about one of my hives which was given to me last September by an oldtimer who's getting out of the business. We moved one of his hives from his yard to my yard and used his old hive stand and some white metal from an old microwave oven as weed barrier in front of the hive. Now I see quite a few--but not an alarming amount--of dead bees in front of the hive. The thing that confuses me is that they're not all just under the bottom board, like the other bees were just removing dead bees from the hive; rather, they're scattered in a very thin pattern in a three-foot radius around the entranceway like they flew out and died. I don't see this in front of my other two hives, but perhaps it's because the weed barrier in front of their hives is landscape fabric with pine needles over it. Has anyone else ever seen this?

    Too, we had a very warm day yesterday--almost 70 degrees--and all three hives were very active. In particular, my very strong hive which is already showing signs of wanting to swarm--doing lots of buzzing around the front of the hive in a nervous demeanor (not agressive; just "antsy"). When it gets warm on a more regular basis I will start reversing the boxes every two weeks to prevent a swarm and will hang my swarm trap, but my question is if I super this hive with drawn comb as oppposed to new foundation, will they be less likely to swarm or doesn't it make a difference. Being a new beekeeper my drawn comb is at a premium and I'm trying to figure out how best to use it: give it to the strong hive to prevent swarming or give it to my two weaker hives so that they can get to work faster producing brood and storing pollen & honey.

    Sorry this was so long--newbies have lots of questions!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,108

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    >Now I see quite a few--but not an alarming amount--of dead bees in front of the hive. The thing that confuses me is that they're not all just under the bottom board, like the other bees were just removing dead bees from the hive; rather, they're scattered in a very thin pattern in a three-foot radius around the entranceway like they flew out and died. I don't see this in front of my other two hives, but perhaps it's because the weed barrier in front of their hives is landscape fabric with pine needles over it. Has anyone else ever seen this?

    All the time. I've always asumed they got warmed up from the sun and misjudged the temps outside the hive. Ian has put forth the theory they are old summer bees that leave the hive to die so the other bees won't have to arrage the funeral (haul their carcasess out). That makes sense I guess, but in any case it is normal for it to happen.

    >Too, we had a very warm day yesterday--almost 70 degrees--and all three hives were very active. In particular, my very strong hive which is already showing signs of wanting to swarm--doing lots of buzzing around the front of the hive in a nervous demeanor (not agressive; just "antsy").

    It may be true that they also do this when they are about to swarm, but it's hard for me to beleive, even with the climate difference, that they are considering swarming. The often do this when it's warm enough to get out but nothing is blooming so there's really nothing to do. Buzzing around is often just taking a cleansing flight, or, if your hive is rasing brood, a combination cleansing and orientation flight for the new bees. Swarm cells are a sign of swarming.

    >When it gets warm on a more regular basis I will start reversing the boxes every two weeks to prevent a swarm

    I can't see what possible good it could do to reverse every two weeks. Maybe George Imirie will give more info and convince me some day, but I usually don't reverse at all. Ever. Unless I find the bees all the way at the top and the bottom box empty.

    >and will hang my swarm trap,

    I think a swarm trap is a good idea, but I would not count on it for much. It's just wishful thinking that might pan out. Usually if they swarm they will leave anyway, but sometimes they will go for the swarm trap.

    >but my question is if I super this hive with drawn comb as oppposed to new foundation, will they be less likely to swarm or doesn't it make a difference.

    I don't see much difference, but if it's drawn comb I put more supers on. If it's new foundation, I put less supers on. I think you're jumping the gun on worrying about swarming, but then I don't live in SC.

    >Being a new beekeeper my drawn comb is at a premium and I'm trying to figure out how best to use it: give it to the strong hive to prevent swarming or give it to my two weaker hives so that they can get to work faster producing brood and storing pollen & honey.

    It's not going to prevent swarming unless you are using it to free up a honey bound brood chamber. Give it to the weaker ones.

    >Sorry this was so long--newbies have lots of questions!

    Why be sorry?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Kiel WI, USA
    Posts
    2,368

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    The dead bees tend to get spread that way due to the workers flying out with the dead and dropping them, they usually don't get to far before dropping them, but it's still an impressive sight.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Williston, NC, USA
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    1,779

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    Thanks, you guys! My fears have been allayed! I'm just very sensitive because last March 9 I got my first two hives and they both swarmed three weeks later, even with my having added a new deep (with new foundation) to them both! I lost both swarms, one hive got very strong (the one I'm worried about swarming this year--made 5 1/2 gallons of surplus honey last year!) and one failed to produce a new queen, got laying workers and I had to work like the dickens to get the built up on time for overwintering! As you can imagine, I'd like to avoid that happening again this year!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Kiel WI, USA
    Posts
    2,368
    Wow, that's one heck of an initiation!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,108

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    Wow, swarmed at the end of March! I've never had a swarm that early nor been called on one. But then you are a lot warmer than here. Still the end of March is two months away. When you have a nice warm day near the begining of March, I'd go through thoroughly and make sure there is room for the queen to lay (not honey bound or pollen bound) and no swarm cells on the bottom of the bars. Add foundation to the brood chamber as necessary. A brood chamber should have some honey and pollen but also some empty cells for the queen to lay in. So if it has LOT'S of honey and no empty cells, pull a frame of honey out and add an empty frame.

    If there is an empty brood box on the bottom and the bees are mostly in the top, I'd reverse.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
    Posts
    829

    Post

    Michael what kind of swarm trap you are talking about? Is it a enter trap in front of the hive like on this side (http://www.members.shaw.ca/orioleln/...prevention.htm) or a different kind?
    Under normal conditions the bees here swarming not before the end of April or beginning of May.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Williston, NC, USA
    Posts
    1,779

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    Michael, thanks for the advice. Manipulation of the separate frames is a definite art form that I hope I can learn over the coming months. It would never have dawned on me to remove a frame of honey and replace it with foundation, but it does make sense. I'm assuming, too, that I can take the removed frame of honey and give it to one of my weaker colonies, right?

    Axtmann, I got my swarm trap and lure from Mann Lake: http://www.mannlakeltd.com/catalog/page37.htm. It's inexpensive enough and I am told it works as well as any other swarm trap. We'll see. . .

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Mobile, Alabama
    Posts
    536

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    "Wow, swarmed at the end of March! I've never had a swarm that early nor been called on one."

    Hey Michael,

    I'm in Mobile, AL., and we have, in years past, received swarm calls as early as late February. I only remember that happening twice, but some of the older beekeepers here remember it happening more frequently.

    ------------------
    Rob Koss

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,108

    Post

    >It would never have dawned on me to remove a frame of honey and replace it with foundation, but it does make sense. I'm assuming, too, that I can take the removed frame of honey and give it to one of my weaker colonies, right?

    Drawn comb is best if you have it to add to the brood chamber. Yes give the honey to a weak colony.

    >I'm in Mobile, AL., and we have, in years past, received swarm calls as early as late February. I only remember that happening twice, but some of the older beekeepers here remember it happening more frequently

    FEBRUARY! My bees are hunkered down trying not to freeze in February. An early swarm here would be April. A normal one would be May or early June. And I've had late ones in a drought in August.

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