I went through one of my hives today, and found a bunch of swarm cells. I thought at first they were superceding the queen, when I pulled out a frame, and the cell was in the middle. Then I pulled the next one, and there were a half a dozen on the bottom of the frame.
What should I do. It's so late in the season, I'm thinking I should try the Demeree method, but I have a problem understanding how to do it. Could someone give me suggestion on what to do, or explain the method in easy terms that I might be able to figure out.
Charlie, I don't really understand the Demaree method either. I would probably split the colony, moving the queen to the new location, and making sure all the swarm cells stayed on the parent stand. I would then evaluate after the new queen is laying whether they need to be joined to make it through Winter or if each new colony can go it alone.
That would work down here on the Gulf coast, but I don't know how close you are to first frost. Take that and colony strength into consideration before attempting. Remember that the bees usually know what they are doing - this late in the year a swarm occurs due to overpopulation of the cavity. They know how many bees they can support through the Winter. Sometimes you will see this after a dramatic decrease in cavity size and stores on hand (removal of all supers at once) if the bees feel Winter right around the corner.
I would split them, today if possible. Maybe even use a queen includer (excluder) under the box that the old queen is in. Are you running two boxes or three? I would just take the box that you know the queen is in, and use that to start a split, and put another box on top of it. This time of year, you will probably want two supers on each hive. If the queen cells fail, then you can just recombine the hives, but I would probably re-queen them yet this fall. Primary goal at this point is to keep them from swarming, and splitting should do that.
This leaves me wondering what you put the bees in when you split.
What if you don't have any extra drawn comb?
Do you just put boxes of foundation on top of each split? Would they draw this up in time for winter?
Maybe if yoiu feed them a lot, Keep the feeder on them as long as they will take it. This helps them draw out the comb.
I'm trying to think what I'd do at this time if I were faced with the same situation. Well I was actually and put on a deep with undrawn frames. This calmed everyone down. I opted to keep them together. Otherwise I would have had to buy some drawn frames from the fella down south. They haven't drawn comb well this season. Maybe weather related.
This time of year, I'd do a split, let them raise the new queen and settle down and then kill the old queen or the better queen and recombine them.