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  1. #1
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    May 2009
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    Garland County, AR
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    Default Bearding = Early swarm?

    I have 2 hives. Yesterday early morning when it was still a bit brisk out, hive 2 had some bearding on it. Popped the lid to peek thru my screened inner board and you could barely see any of the tops of the frames - meaning, no space between bees hardly at all - on tops of the frame. Couldn't see anything down between frames. I had to be at work shortly, so I threw on another medium with all new frames. My thoughts were they've run out space. My other hive (#1) had an extra medium on it from last year, with honey and empty frames alternated. So I know that hive had room to expand, they were not exhibiting this behavior, and there was still some room visible in it.

    I will be able to inspect tomorrow to tell more, but ITMT does this seem "pre-swarm-ish"? Did I make a good decision to expand? When I open tomorrow, should I alternate empty frames with honey, and is now a good time to reverse? Running in the 70s and 80s all week with lows from 40s to 60s. Unusually warm for this period. THANKS!
    Zone 7b ~ Central Arkansas
    8fr medium equipment

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
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    3,027

    Default Re: Bearding = Early swarm?

    Go ahead and reverse, as long as you aren't splitting up the broodnest. Bearding isn't directly a swarm precursor, though it can be indicative of broodnest density and high populations which do drive the swarm impulse. You can reverse more than once through the season; just don't chill brood and it can be a helpful management tool.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  3. #3
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    May 2009
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    Default Re: Bearding = Early swarm?

    Thanks Ben! I'm going in tomorrow...my first spring. Expecting to learn a lot!
    Zone 7b ~ Central Arkansas
    8fr medium equipment

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Bristol,MA,USA
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    710

    Default Re: Bearding = Early swarm?

    How old is the queen? Two years old? You might think of taking about three frames out of this overpopulous hive. One of capped brood, one of open brood and one of honey and pollen and replace those frames with foundation frames or drawn combs. Making a small split early fools the hive into thinking that they have swarmed. You will still get a honey crop and another hive. OMTCW

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    OKC, OK USA
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    2,869

    Default Re: Bearding = Early swarm?

    I would point out here if you are splitting for swarm prevention the old queen should go with the new split, this way the original hive will quickly realize it is queenless and change from swarm mode to requeen mode... not a guarantee but can tip the scale.
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Bristol,MA,USA
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    710

    Question Re: Bearding = Early swarm?

    Being very early in the season, the new nuc can raise it own queen, and the original hive will still refrain from swarming, provided the queen cell cups have not started. The honey crop will still be nearly as great as they would originally have gathered and there is even a likelihood of a very small crop with the nuc. This could very well happen in Arizona where you are located. OMTCW

  7. #7
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    May 2009
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    Default Re: Bearding = Early swarm?

    Cedar Hill, i think she's just a year old - bot the nucs last April.

    So... What if there are queen cells? Would I do anything differently?

    And then a silly question... To move a queen, do you just take her on the frame i see her on? I have seen people catch the queen, but I would not want to attempt that, so I'm thinking there's no other way to get her moved than on the frame.

    BTW, I'm in Arkansas. Not sure if that would matter.

    Thanks all for the feedback!
    Zone 7b ~ Central Arkansas
    8fr medium equipment

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,329

    Default Re: Bearding = Early swarm?

    Bearding does not equal swarming. But some of the things that contribute to bearding, contribute to swarming. So if they are bearding I would make sure they are not overcrowded, and they have plenty of ventilation. If I think they are going to start thinking about swarming, I might also open up the brood nest.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
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    May 2009
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    Default Re: Bearding = Early swarm?

    Michael, a couple of questions about opening up te brood nest. I read on your site about how to do it. You say insert an foundationless frame. All my frames have foundation. Should I tear out my foundation or will it be "nearly" as effective using non-drawn frame, black Plasticel?

    Now, I'm removing brood from the brood nest. I just take that frame of brood, along with some honey and larva, and create a nuc? Or what do I do with that removed frame of brood? (I could have missed that on your page.)

    Have no clue what to expect when I go in today, but I am trying to go in prepared for all options.

    Thanks!!
    Zone 7b ~ Central Arkansas
    8fr medium equipment

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Bristol,MA,USA
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    Default Re: Bearding = Early swarm?

    [QUOTE=Seymore;632319]Cedar Hill, i think she's just a year old - bot the nucs last April.

    So... What if there are queen cells? Would I do anything differently?" If there are cells, then it would be better to do as was previously mentioned, take the old queen out with the new nuc and give the original hive plenty of room. Arkansas, then the hive just probably needs room and you may have already taken care of the problem with the new honey super. OMTCW

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Bearding = Early swarm?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cedar Hill View Post
    You might think of taking about three frames out of this overpopulous hive. One of capped brood, one of open brood and one of honey and pollen and replace those frames with foundation frames or drawn combs.
    Cedar, for the split, do I just put the brood between the other two frames (to keep it warm? - like, OB(CappedBrood)HP? And I don't fill the rest of the box with frames? Is that to control SHB? And I'm guessing I need to be sure there are nurse bees attached. As I understand it, it won't matter if there are older bees, because they will return to the original hive. And I'm just guessing that nurse bees will be the ones not flying off?

    Thanks!
    Zone 7b ~ Central Arkansas
    8fr medium equipment

  12. #12
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    Question Re: Bearding = Early swarm?

    DRATS! This is why I want all mediums! If the bees have started to move back down, my brood MAY be on my lowest box - my deep. If so, if I remove any deep frame, I do not have another deep in which to put it. So, what is the hazard if I stack 2 mediums and then put in the one deep brood frame surrounded by 6-1/4 honey frame and 6-1/4 open brood? Any other options??? I am saw-challenged!

    Maybe i'll get lucky and the brood will all be in he mediums!!
    Zone 7b ~ Central Arkansas
    8fr medium equipment

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Bristol,MA,USA
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    Default Re: Bearding = Early swarm?

    Seymore. You absolutely need to get yourself an experienced beekeeper to help you. You are writing of placing a deep frame into two mediums, etc. There is what is called "bee space" The bees adhere to this 3/8" space (Langstroth) which they allow themselves. Anything larger or smaller within their hive usually get filled with burr comb or propolis and creates a mess. A three frame nuc is a weak nuc and was suggested only if there were no queen cells. Nucs should be made with all adhering bees on the frames and brought about two miles away. Some will suggest leaving it in the apiary,...which makes for a weaker nuc because it must develop a field force over time. The entire super must be filled with frames, preferably drawn out.

  14. #14
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    May 2009
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    Default Re: Bearding = Early swarm?

    Thanks Cedar. Yup, I need help. Little to none available around here. I understand bee space, which is why I thought it strange you didn't mention adding the extra frames. I don't "assume," and that IS mostly because of my inexperience. I ask a lot of questions in hopes that I can be fully prepared when I do go into the hive. And I know mixing frame sizes and boxes is not good, but SOMETIMES you can do the wrong thing in an emergent situation and it can get you through till the right thing can be done. Choosing the lesser of two evils, if you will.

    I ordered all extra my equipment months ago in expectation of spring growth. This dern deep keeps throwing a wrench in the circuit.

    I appreciate your time and wisdom!
    Zone 7b ~ Central Arkansas
    8fr medium equipment

  15. #15
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Bearding = Early swarm?

    Drawn comb can work. Not as well as an empty frame. You can, since it's going in the middle of the brood nest and drawn comb, just cut the comb out. I'd leave a row of cells all around. Do this with either an empty frame that you want drawn or cut out some comb on one you would like to part with, such as a large cell comb if you're trying to regress, or drones if you're trying to limit drone comb, or whatever other reason you have for culling a comb.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Bearding = Early swarm?

    Thanks, Michael!
    Zone 7b ~ Central Arkansas
    8fr medium equipment

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