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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Posts
    131

    Question

    My 2004 3# package has just been going gangbusters. I'm starting to worry that they are getting the urge to swarm, though.

    At the moment they have completely drawn out one super that started with new foundation and super #2 (with new foundation) was added under super #1 about 1 week ago. They have drawn out very little comb on super #2.

    They were bunching/clustering up at the entrance so badly that I raised the hive up on small blocks in each corner about 1" high off their open, screened bottom board.

    That only relieved the bottom space for a few days. Now that entire bottom is just packed with bees for most of the day. I would say they are filling up 90% of that entire space. Although, there still seems to be quite a few active bees as well during the day.

    I have a top entrance in the inner cover but they just don't seem to use it. I also added 4 screws at the corner of the inner cover to give them a little bit of a gap(1/16") for more ventilation.

    Any ideas as to what is going on and if I should be doing something else?

    I did try destroying queen swarm cells but there are so many bees that it has become quite a difficult task. Something that I don't think I want to do every week. Thanks for any input.

    [This message has been edited by honeylocust (edited June 18, 2004).]

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Lincolnton, NC, USA
    Posts
    71

    Post

    Mine have been doing the same. It's been awfully hot down here this past week, and I just assumed they're clearing house to keep the hive temperature down.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Round Top, New York - Northern Catskill Mtns.
    Posts
    1,895

    Post

    "I did try destroying queen swarm cells but there are so many bees that it has become quite a difficult task. Something that I don't think I want to do every week. Thanks for any input."

    Bees will cluster and hang around the hive for a number of reasons, none usually good.

    There may be a lull in the nectar flow or it may have stopped all together.

    But, if you have been seeing and cutting swarm cells out, they are looking to swarm. Around the time of a hive swarming there activity level with regard to foraging slows down.

    Young bees do not forage, they do house duties. When a hive is going to swarm, the queen stops laying in advance of leaving. So there is less work for the young bees to do.

    The congested hive may also be too hot, and they have moved outside.

    I would take most or all of the capped brood out of the hive and make a split. Leave the queen in the hive at the current location. The hive will not swarm with out capped brood and queen cells.
    Take most of the nurse bees with the brood. Make sure that you either have a few queen cells in the split hive or order a queen.

    Add comb or foundation to the old hive.

    Later in the year you could re-combine the hives if you want.

    This hive will make every effort to swarm and it sounds like you are fighting a losing battle.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,417

    Post

    It they are building swarm cells I'd just split them into three or four hives, put some empty comb in each of the new brood nests to get them uncrowded. You can recombine later. There's not changing their mind, so you may as well do it for them.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Posts
    131

    Post

    Thank you for the replies. I was afraid of that.

    What would be the advantage of making 3 or 4 hives instead of just a single split?

    If just a single split is made, what keeps the bees in the original hive from making more queen cells?

    What I understand from the experienced beekeepers in this area, is, that the nectar flow continues more or less all summer long. Which split is better for any hope of getting surplus honey?

    I have to say, this forum is such a wonderful way to get seasoned knowledge. It's like having experienced beekeepers right next door. Thanks again, to everyone.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Round Top, New York - Northern Catskill Mtns.
    Posts
    1,895

    Post

    "What would be the advantage of making 3 or 4 hives instead of just a single split?"

    Depending on your area, you may or may not have all of the smaller splits be viable colonies for winter. Making more splits further releaves the swarming urge. The colony / colonies have in fact swarmed 3, 4, or 5 times and the numbers in each "colony" are smaller.

    "If just a single split is made, what keeps the bees in the original hive from making more queen cells?"
    The original hive has lost almost all of it's current production of brood. The congestions has been removed from the brood nest. It will take them well over a month to get back to the point they were at before the split. For all practical purposes the hive has swarmed. The urge to swarm has been taken care of and they will consentrate on putting in honey and pollen for winter stores.

    What I understand from the experienced beekeepers in this area, is, that the nectar flow continues more or less all summer long. Which split is better for any hope of getting surplus honey?

    If you want surplus honey, the best choice would be a single split and a recombine in a few weeks. If you want another hive and less surplus honey, then a single split.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,417

    Post

    I usually make several because:

    1. I usually need some more hives anyway.

    2. If I don't they may still swarm. Real swarms often have a primary and a couple of secondary swarms. If I split it into three or four it's more of a sure thing. But I play it by ear. It depends on how many queen cells I find, how many bees I find etc.

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