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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Hillsboro, NH usa
    Posts
    69

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    I started with two packages this spring. Both got VERY overpopulated quick, so I did a split on one, leaving the other alone (two deeps and two supers) because my partner decided he wanted some honey this year, to heck with the bees). Well, the hive I did the split from made queens, and swarmed three times (that I know of) before settling down. The split (one deep with a shallow supper) swarmed Thursday. I can hear a queen piping in the old hive. I caught the swarm and put it on top of the old one (double screen board) and that's fine. Yesterday, between thunderstorms, the other origional two-deep hive decided to swarm...LARGE ball of bees way up in a big pine...oh well. Decent weather today, so I decided to go in and see what was left. Still tons of bees, but here's my questions;
    I found that they had basically glued the bottom of the frames of the top deep to the top of the lower with drone and queen cells (nasty mess). I pulled four frames from one side and gave them to the just -captured swarm...two of honey, and two of what I expected to be capped brood. I'm suprised to find that there were actually eggs in some of the cells! I'd read that an about to swarm queen stopped laying, and you'd only find capped brood? Anyway, I stopped there and replaced the frames with just foundation 'til ya'll tell me what I should do next. I was afraid that if I pulled the rest of the frames, I might kill all the queen cells (though there are likely more in the lower deep?). My fear is, since there are still tons of bees, and lots of swarm cells, I'll be seeing them throw several more swarms, leaving me with something too weak to overwinter here in NH. Could there be a second queen already in there (considering the eggs), should I make more room by removing more frames so the first queen that hatches likes the looks of the place and stays... you get the idea a lot better than I do. Hurricane Charlie will be here tomorrow, so they will likely be hunkered down like me. Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,481

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    If they still have lots of swarm cells I'd split them into several hives. Probably the brood nest was clogged and that's why they swarmed. So when you split make sure you also have some empty foundation in there for them to draw. Make sure each split has at least one queen cell and a few frames of bees. You can always recombine after they get it out of their system.

    The best way I know to prevent swarms is to keep the brood nest opened up. AND have plenty of supers on.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Hillsboro, NH usa
    Posts
    69

    Post

    Hi Mike,
    My problem is lack of equipment as well as time (NH high country, we lost all our bees last winter to the looong cold spell). I've gone from two to 5 hives at this point, so I think I might be more inclined to try to end up with up to five strong colonies going into this winter. First of all, why are there new eggs instead of just capped brood as I've seen in the past? Next concern...it can't be possible to destroy all the queen cells by breaking down the top deep can it? Being that they are connecting top and bottom deeps with brood comb, might I have a bee-space problem?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Hillsboro, NH usa
    Posts
    69

    Post

    As regards overwintering, in order to reduce the "footprint", I'd like info on maybe stacking hives vertically...two deeps over two deeps. Can it be done as a two queen hive with a double screen board in the middle, or is there something about the heat flow that might require a hard divider? I'm considering building a 3 sided roofed shelter to help overwinter.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,481

    Post

    >My problem is lack of equipment as well as time (NH high country, we lost all our bees last winter to the looong cold spell). I've gone from two to 5 hives at this point, so I think I might be more inclined to try to end up with up to five strong colonies going into this winter.

    No reason not to recombine afterwards. The problem is they've made up their mind to swarm and you seldom succeed at stopping them once they have capped queen cells.

    >First of all, why are there new eggs instead of just capped brood as I've seen in the past?

    You mean even though there are swarm cells? The bees aren't always precise getting the old queen to stop laying etc. I wouldn't read too much into it.

    >Next concern...it can't be possible to destroy all the queen cells by breaking down the top deep can it?

    You might, but they usually have some small one hiding somewhere when they build that many.

    >Being that they are connecting top and bottom deeps with brood comb, might I have a bee-space problem?

    You might. But then again they often fill every nook and cranny with drone and such when they are crowded. A queen cell goes anywhere they can fit it at the time and swarm cells are almost always on the bottoms of the bars. This doesn't indicate a beespace problem per se. Other causes of connecting between boxes are thin top bars and overcrowding.

    >As regards overwintering, in order to reduce the "footprint", I'd like info on maybe stacking hives vertically...two deeps over two deeps.

    You could probably do that but you'd want to do it early enough they can learn the new location before they go out on a cold morning for a potty break and can't find their way back in time.

    >Can it be done as a two queen hive with a double screen board in the middle, or is there something about the heat flow that might require a hard divider?

    I wouldn't unless the top one is really weak and the bottom one is really strong. Even then I haven't had a lot of luck because the top one then ends up with a lot of condensation and the bottom one has trouble keeping warm. I'd say a solid divider would be better.

    >I'm considering building a 3 sided roofed shelter to help overwinter.

    That would probably help with the wind.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
    Posts
    6,080

    Post

    Garyl,

    The fact that you see only eggs and no capped brood indicated a stoppage in egg laying for whatever reason. This is normal with swarming and the hive raising the new queen.

    Can I suggest that if...
    You have good queens,
    Have healthy hives,
    Do not have a ventalation/moisture problem,
    If they have enough stores,
    If not exposed to open winds,
    You have not restructured the hive frames late in the year,
    Do not disturb them too much in winter,
    Do not leave a half full super on the top thinking you are helping them,
    ....That bees do not need extra measures such as covers and special requirements from the beekeeper.

    Actually, keeping them from the few days of sun warmth in the middle of the winter can be deadly to them. Shelter usually keep the sun from hitting the hive. Except for WIND considerations, they need nothing else in the form of shelter.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Hillsboro, NH usa
    Posts
    69

    Post

    Thanks guys,

    After last winter, I don't consider it too early to start thinking of overwintering. Granted, I know I had very weak queens last year, and went into winter with very small clusters, but then we had extended cold that left them starved to death with tons of stores just 2 inches away. No sign of moisture problems as long as the snow was kept cleared from the sides of the hives (the mistake I made the prior year). I have a wicked wind issue up the hill, so built a three-sided roofed shelter last winter. That couldn't have been the reason for my losses since I know a pro (50+ 2 queen hives) had about 50% losses with no special protection...it was just darn cold for too long for them to break cluster to move to new stores. I acknowledge the idea to allow whatever sun available to get to them, and I can leave off the south wall to do that. Now what about straw/hay packed against the back and sides. It breathes well if kept dry (the roof of my shelter) and leave the front open with 3/4" holes in the upper deeps for venting moisture (mouse guards in place of course on the bottom entrances)?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,481

    Post

    >No sign of moisture problems as long as the snow was kept cleared from the sides of the hives (the mistake I made the prior year).

    Clearing the snow from the sides of the hives will INCREASE condensation on the walls of the hives. The snow keeps the walls much warmer (32 F as opposed to -10 or whatever the ambient temps are).

    >I have a wicked wind issue up the hill, so built a three-sided roofed shelter last winter. That couldn't have been the reason for my losses since I know a pro (50+ 2 queen hives) had about 50% losses with no special protection...it was just darn cold for too long for them to break cluster to move to new stores. I acknowledge the idea to allow whatever sun available to get to them, and I can leave off the south wall to do that. Now what about straw/hay packed against the back and sides.

    It's a mouse magnet, but is also good insulation. I've lost as many to mice as anything else.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Hillsboro, NH usa
    Posts
    69

    Post

    Mike, I left the snow against the hives two years ago (BIG snow with drifts up all the way past the tops of two deeps, I just dug out the front holes for air) and found lots of moisture inside in the spring. I agree with the insulation factor, but when it melts... This past winter was much less snow but extended extreme cold so they couldn't break cluster to move over to stores. That's why I'm considering the hay idea. Just on the sides and back with mouse guards in place maybe?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Round Top, New York - Northern Catskill Mtns.
    Posts
    1,895

    Post

    I have tried a number of methods of preparing hives for winter.

    I am located in a windy, fairly cold location ( to –30F min.) with a fair amount of snow (120 – 150”avg) over the season.

    I have found that a wrap of felt paper provides good protection from the wind.

    The felt paper also helps with allowing the cluster to break and move on those sunny days.

    You need to allow for ventilation for moisture to exit the hive at the top.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,481

    Post

    I think the mouse gaurds are a requirement with or without the hay.

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