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Thread: Ready to swarm

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Branford, CT
    Posts
    47

    Default Ready to swarm

    Question for experienced beeks.

    This is my first hive installed from the package on April 1st on foundation strips. They populated both deep boxes and two weeks ago, I put a queen excluder and a honey supper. They didnít make any comb in the super, but yesterday I discovered at least 5 caped queen cells. All in the second deep, on the bottom of the comb Ė on frames they did not fully finished yet. There was a lot of nectar, honey, pollen, some caped brood and some eggs. The bees are everywhere in the hive, it is hard to see anythingĖ the comb on every frame is totally covered with bees. Yet there was plenty of room for more comb on some frames.
    It looks like they are ready to swarm any day now. At least thatís how it looks to me Ė please correct me if I am wrong.
    What options do I have at this point? Can I make a split tomorrow Ė if they donít swarm today.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,297

    Default

    infofly,
    I just finished inspecting a few of my colonies for ripe honey. One hive, which has four, 8-frame medium supers of ripe honey above a queen excluder and two 8-frame medium supers for brood below the excluder, I discovered two frames with swarm cells near the center of the top brood super. In this hive the 8-frame brood supers only had eight frames each, I usually squeeze nine into each brood super. Four of the sixteen brood combs were solid with pollen, four more, two on each end of the upper brood super were full of capped honey, while two others in the upper brood super were being filled with nectar as the sealed brood was emerging.

    This hive has very desirable genetics - this queen is a Cordovan Italian granddaughter of a Cordovan Italian mother, raised from a mother queen obtained from C. F. Koehnen's in California. Even though she was open mated, she must have mated with many of her uncles and cousins (which my many other hives of Cordovan Italians contribute to the area), because many of her workers are also Cordovan colored.

    So, to get to the point, I took each frame with queen cells and adhering bees (careful not to include the mother queen) into its own Nuc or empty hive, then I shook the bees from three or four frames of honey into the Nuc with the frame of swarm cells, finally giving them each a frame of honey and covering them. In a few weeks I will check them to see if my efforts have produced a couple of nice queens. Meanwhile; back at the parent hive, I moved from the brood supers all the frames solid with pollen and honey, putting them into their own super. I then placed frames, solid with brood, into the bottom brood super, any additional frames of brood I staggered with foundationless frames into the second brood super until it was filled. Finally, I replaced the excluder, entrance rim, super with frames of pollen and honey previously removed from the brood supers, also with foundationless frames making up any openings, then I replaced the supers of ripe honey.

    This is lots of work, doesn't always prevent them from swarming anyways, but at least it can earn you a couple of nice queens.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 06-02-2008 at 11:35 AM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Jenison, MI
    Posts
    1,514

    Default

    You've got less then a few days.
    Two options...
    1. Do a pre-emptive split - take about 3 or 4 frames of capped brood and empty comb and bees on them and the old queen, (and maybe shake off a few more in there) and put them in a different box. You can almost make as many splits up as you have queen cells and equipment. You can always re-combine the splits after the queens are mated.

    2. Keep an eye on them and catch the swarm (or swarms) when they go.

    If you split, make sure that you don't wreck all of the queen cells. The cool thing is that if you do split often the queen cells will be within hours of hatching and you can watch a new queen hatch out.

    The old queen may be hard to find, she stops laying, slims down, and gets quicker before she leaves.

    Rick

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Branford, CT
    Posts
    47

    Default They did not swarmed yet.

    Thank you very much for the advice. The bees didnít swarmed yesterday. On the way home, I picked up couple of pine boards from Home Depot and later made two deep brood boxes. This morning I made a split. Several frames with new queen cells went to the new box, I carefully looked them over and over again to make sure the old queen was not there. The old hive was so loaded with bees that looking on the comb was difficult. I destroyed some queen cells on frames that I left in the old hive hopefully I got them all.
    However I could not find the old queen, I only hope that she was not moved to the new box by mistake. Last time I saw her a week ago.
    There were no eggs this time but tons of bees and lots of nectar and caped honey. It makes me think that if they did not swarmed yesterday, today they would go for sure.
    This was my first experience with queen cells, splits, etc. To say that I was nervous it is an understatement. This is my first hive ever, and I made some rookie mistakes like not getting extra equipment ready just in case. I ordered frames yesterday but it will be a while before they come in.
    Now letís assume that I did all correctly, meaning that old queen is in the old hive and new box will develop a new queen in coming weeks. What are my chances for surplus honey this year? What are my chances for total failure?
    Thanks again for your input guys.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, N.C.
    Posts
    5,080

    Default

    If you made the splits and left the boxes with less frames than full capacity, you are going to have a mess like you cannot imagine. The bees much prefer hanging their comb from the top of the box, to using frames. if they have room to bypass the frames, they will draw there first.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Green Lane, PA
    Posts
    839

    Default

    Now letís assume that I did all correctly, meaning that old queen is in the old hive and new box will develop a new queen in coming weeks. What are my chances for surplus honey this year? What are my chances for total failure?
    I would have left a couple of queen cells in the original hive. You may have made them queenless. There is a good chance your hive has already swarmed.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Jenison, MI
    Posts
    1,514

    Default

    You really should have the old queen in the new box. She's the one who will by flying off with the swarm. Even a split won't always stop them.

    Sometimes, however, the just the brood nest disturbance will stop them.

    Will you get honey? That depends...depends on if they still swarm, if it rains, how good of a honey flow you get...but I think you still should be able to get honey.

    Rick

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Branford, CT
    Posts
    47

    Default

    I donít think they swarmed already, there were too many bees in the old hive. At least that is what it looks like, I can be wrong. But you would not be able to fit more bees in this hive. Every piece of comb was totally covered with bees to the point that it was hard to see anything under them. After the swarm there should be a lot less bees - I had never seen one so I can be wrong again, also there were eggs on Sunday. Today I did not see any eggs.
    I left both hives partially filled with frames from deep boxes and a shallow super full of frames with foundation strips on each hive. That should give something to do until my new frames arrive.
    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    owensboro,ky
    Posts
    2,240

    Smile room

    "if they have room to bypass the frames, they will draw there first."
    IDDEE is right on. leaving some frames with foundation you would think that would be where they would start-but you would bee wrong(dont ask how i know!) when your frames come in don't waste a sec getting them in. better would be to ask around and borrow some and replace them by giving them your new ones, plus you get to talk bees! good luck,mike
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Cedar Bluff, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    141

    Default

    You really need to find your old queen and make sure she is still laying and not just drone laying.

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