Hello, all. I've been lurking around this forum for a few months now but never had much to say, just lots to learn. I started out with my first 2 hives this spring and they did awesome. Mostly due to reading books and the internet. I found out about a swarm down the road from me and called to check it out. The guy had started out beekeeping by collecting a swarm from his brother's house and built up to 3 hives. But along the way, neglect set in and now he says his brood chambers are a mess. I was reading a post from "Moposcar" back in April of '02 and it was about a 10 year old hive in OK that had been neglected. The comment was made that there might be something to the disease resistance of such a "natural" hive. I am wondering the same thing about this swarm. Do you think it would be worth trying to let this newly hived swarm build up on its own in the brood chambers (meaning not really hassling them about keeping perfectly straight frames, etc.) but keep the honey supers manageable for extraction later on? Do you think that if he had at least swapped brood chambers occasionally they might not have swarmed in the late summer? I'm curious and really don't have anything to lose since I have the extra equipment right now. But the swarm could also come in handy for making a bunch of drawn out comb for this spring so I'm torn between what to do with them. Also, what are the odds of the swarm queen being a good one coming from such a hive? Sorry for such a long post my 1st time out. Thanks for any help.
Sorry, but I added a little to this posting and re-posted it again.
If the frames in the brood chamber are not movable, how will you check and treat for disease in the future?
If you can find the queen, you can consider putting her in a proper brood super with a queen excluder for 24 days. Then harvest the whole of the old brood nest for honey and wax.
Even if you have to tear the whole thing apart and loose the brood to find the queen, in the long term it will be worth it. You can feed the old honey back to the bees to help them draw out more comb.
>there might be something to the disease resistance of such a "natural" hive. I am wondering the same thing about this swarm...Do you think it would be worth trying to let this newly hived swarm build up on its own in the brood chambers (meaning not really hassling them about keeping perfectly straight frames, etc.)
It's not the neglect of managing the brood nest that causes disease resistence. The cause would be genetics. The effect of those genetics (the evidence of it) is that the hive survived without treatment.
Personally, I would try putting the swarm in a hive with some starter strips of 4.9mm foundation and let them build what they want. In the years of "neglect" they have probably rebuilt the combs to be what they want anyway, so let these build what they want. And try not treating for mites etc. and see how well they do. That doesn't require neglect in other ways. I'd still cull comb that's more than 10% drone, I'd still check for honeybound brood chambers so the queen can lay and I'd still take out cross combs etc so you can keep an eye on them.
You might want to raise some queens from this hive to see how they do. Put a couple of frames of emerging brood and a frame with some just hatched eggs and a frame or two of honey in a nuc and let the bees raise you a queen. You could requeen some other hive, or just let the nuc grow until you end up with another hive.