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Thread: Swarm Question

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Millersville, Maryland
    Posts
    56

    Default Swarm Question

    I have a swarm question. I installed three SMRT Carniolan nucs in late May of this year. I missed the peak pollen season so the bees have been working hard. I've been feeding and they take about a quart of syrup per day.

    At this point two the three hives have filled out nearly all of a ten frame deep hive body and are just beginning to build comb in the second hive body.

    However, the third hive has exploded. I've never seen anything like this. This is my first experience with Carniolans so perhaps some of you Carniolan experts have some thoughts. The two deep hive bodies are literally filled to the brim with bees. Every void is packed. When I pull frames they aren't just covered with bees, but there are bees on top of bees. They form long stings holding on to one another between the frames when I pick them up. The upper hive body is loaded with brood larve and I could see bees hatching and leaving the cells right before my eyes. It's as if the queen is in super production mode and can't stop. I didn't see a lot of honey, it's there but not nearly like the other two hives.
    I also didn't seen any swarm cells. But I did see a small cluster of capped cells (about 6 or 7) low on one comb (not the frame) which were protuding out longer than the other brood cells. But, they didn't appear to be as large as a traditional queen cell. The top frames aren't completely filled yet but with all the bees, that can't be too far off. During the warm part of the day, I'm seeing the front of the hive bodies being completely covered with bees during the day. I'm talking a two deep box beard, the entire front. Also, the bees seem to fly away from the hive, then fly up in spirals then back down.

    This seems like a swarm situation but a swarm after only two months? Are those slightly protruding brood cells actually queen cells?

    Should I try to split the hive this late in the year? or just add another hive body and hope for the best?

    I'm guessing there isn't much honey due to the overpopulation situation. What's going on?

    Any thoughts?

    By the way, I'm using screened bottom boards and with the SMRT bees, a recent test of the hives only turned up a single mite.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, N.C.
    Posts
    5,080

    Default

    Why didn't you add a box to it two weeks ago? They can't make honey if they don't have a place to put it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    2,516

    Default

    Stop feeding and get a super on.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,985

    Default

    if I was feeding a quart a day (that's a lot of sugar) at this time of year I would definitely be getting some serious foundation pulled.

    of course they can make honey if they have no place to place it, up until they decide to swarm.

    sounds like you may have a very odd circumstance here. with little to no resources in the hive and a large and growing population what do you think the outcome suggest?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,985

    Default

    oh yea possible solution to your problem.

    I would definitely be trying to remove some population from the hive in question. I would do this by either splitting or shifting frames of soon to emerge brood (I would bump or brush off the live bees) to the less populated hive. hive like you describe are excellent subject for splitting although I would think the season and time remaining in the season might not favor such an idea.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Millersville, Maryland
    Posts
    56

    Default

    Thanks for the responses they're much appreciated.

    What I find so perplexing and perhaps I wasn't clear in communicating it, is the following.

    1) Massive bee population

    2) Significant brood production despite massive population.

    3) Very little stored food

    4) No apparent queen cells to indicate swarming

    5) Drawn but empty comb in over half of the top hive body, the rest is all productive brood with LOTS of visible larve.

    It seems all the hive's energy is being put into producing more bees, there appears to little or no effort to store food, despite my efforts to feed them. I haven't fed them this week due to the bearding behavior.

    I have to admit, I'm not a savvy beekeeper my experience is with Italians years ago and I've never seen anything remotely resembling this. Normally, I place another box on top of the hive when the top box becomes 60-70% full but that has yet to occur.

    The transfer of brood sounds like a great idea. I think I'll do that. I can't imagine that this hive, especially a split, would be ready for the cool weather in 10 weeks. But I'm not sure how to deal with the overpopulation. They've got to be eating everything and leaving nothing to store.

    I have thought about swapping the position of the hive with the less populated hive hoping the populated workers would go in to build it up. However, they don't seem to be building up their current hive. Thoughts?

    Thanks again

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