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  1. #1
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    Default what happens to queen laying activity when hive is prepping for swarm?

    Does a hive that's on the verge of swarming sometimes have no eggs or uncapped brood? Somewhere I heard that before the hive throws off a swarm, and in preparation for swarming, the queen tapers off her laying. I'm trying to figure out what's up with a booming hive of mine, that has a huge population and appears to be thriving and extremely productive. I saw some frames with great patterns of capped brood, but no eggs or larvae. Didn't notice any swarm cells either, but I could have missed them. The hive is pretty full of honey but isn't completely honey bound. So I'm hoping they're not queenless, but wondering if they could possibly just be getting ready to swarm.

    I'm thinking that I need to watch for pollen being brought in as a sign that brood is being fed (and that maybe I just missed seeing brood - sometimes I have a frighteningly large blind spot .)

  2. #2
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    Default Re: what happens to queen laying activity when hive is prepping for swarm?

    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  3. #3
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    Default Re: what happens to queen laying activity when hive is prepping for swarm?

    If you didn't see any queen cells it's possible that they may be superseding the queen. There can be as little as one queen cell when superseding, which could have been missed.

    In terms of swarm preparation, the brood nest is backfilled with nectar and pollen so that the queen has little space to lay eggs, and so her ovaries shrink. Have a look at:
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...arm-Prevention

    Matthew Davey

  4. #4
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    Default Re: what happens to queen laying activity when hive is prepping for swarm?

    karen,
    If your forage/bee season has been advanced by about 3 weeks like most eastern areas, you have been in main flow (capping honey) since at least mid May. You should be out of the woods on swarming. A strong colony that does not swarm often goes into supersedure about the beginning of main flow. That would explain your lack of brood/eggs. With just a few SS cells anywhere, you might not have seen them. Brood nest reduction by backfilling starts before main flow and continues through main flow.
    You are likely OK. Relax and enjoy.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: what happens to queen laying activity when hive is prepping for swarm?

    This is all very interesting. wcubed, is brood nest backfilling is the same as reduction? I observed a lot of frames through the four (out of five ) hives that had been capped brood until recently and those newly opened cells were filled with honey. I think truly that I just got behind and let the hives get too crowded. So time will tell if they swarm. I did actually take honey about a month ago, some of which was from last year. So the honey flow this year has been quite good - I think largely from the incredibly abundant white clover.

    The hive that I described as booming yet having no visible eggs/larvae is an unlimited brood nest, and had three deeps and three/four mediums stacked, so it's REALLY hard to inspect the hive. It's up on blocks too, because of skunks in the area, and so I have to be on a ladder to look into the hive.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: what happens to queen laying activity when hive is prepping for swarm?

    Another question: wondering if , at this time of year when population is at its peak and laying of eggs has diminished, that it wouldn't be good to take a frame with eggs from another hive to help a struggling colony that appears queenless (my fifth hive , the one that is not doing so well and is diminishing in size and has not brought in much honey - I suspect that they swarmed and the new queen didn't make it back from the mating flight) - maybe I won't find eggs in the other hives, or maybe there just aren't enough to justify stealing some from a hive?

    This is a new line of thought for me, so I may not be making the right connection just yet...

  7. #7
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    Default Re: what happens to queen laying activity when hive is prepping for swarm?

    This thread is perfect timing for my friend's bees! Does anyone know how long it takes to prepare a queen for swarming?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: what happens to queen laying activity when hive is prepping for swarm?

    Backfilling is their technique for broodnest reduction. As brood emerges, they clean the cell and put nectar there, starting at the top of the brood and working downward. Some say it is forced by more nectar than they have room to store, but I see it as a deliberate means to control population.

    Your lagging hive that you suspect may have swarmed could have indeed lost their replacement queen in the mating process. If they don't have young brood by now, do give them a frame with eggs to rear another. The boomer should have extra eggs within a couple weeks. A replacement queen is geared to pour it on, playing catch up on an empty brood nest. But you should find eggs in one of the others.

    S.R.
    It takes generally less than two weeks from the "commit to swarm" timing to swarm issue. In that time they can trim her down enough to maintain altitude in flight.
    But in your area, you should be more than a month past the swarm preparation period. maybe 2 months in this advanced season.

    Walt

  9. #9
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    Default Re: what happens to queen laying activity when hive is prepping for swarm?

    wcubed
    Just posted a question regarding how long it takes the old queen that came with a swarm to start laying again .after a swarm is hived. Do you know the answer to that too?

    Interesting. The Java update I received yesterday appears to have disabled my ability to respond to posts in IE. Still works OK in chrome.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: what happens to queen laying activity when hive is prepping for swarm?

    Thanks Walt,

    That's good to know, the hive I'm concerned about is a nuc, it had LOADS of queen cells but still had eggs and larvae. Maybe they weren't planning to swarm at all, probably just supercedure.

    For ongoing education: there would not be any eggs or larvae in the hive if a hive was ready to swarm, correct?
    Last edited by suburbanrancher; 06-14-2012 at 12:29 PM. Reason: Added question

  11. #11
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    Default Re: what happens to queen laying activity when hive is prepping for swarm?

    Walt, I so appreciate your sharing from your observations of the hive. That kind of information is invaluable. You speak with authority so I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are correct (meant in jest.) -Karen

  12. #12
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    Default Re: what happens to queen laying activity when hive is prepping for swarm?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter View Post
    Interesting. The Java update I received yesterday appears to have disabled my ability to respond to posts in IE. Still works OK in chrome.
    Did you sign in with SN and password? Sometimes updates wipe out the cookie.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  13. #13
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    Default Re: what happens to queen laying activity when hive is prepping for swarm?

    S.R.
    Didn't know we were talking about a nuc. and don't have much nuc experience. A nuc can get crowded and swarm any time. My answer was relevant to reproductive swarms of an overwintered colony. Overcrowding is a different motivation. If LOADS of cells is more than 6, they may well be planning to swarm. 3 or 4 is more normal, and one is enough for supersedure.

    There generally would not be any expanse of eggs by the time the first swarm cells are capped, but we have seen some eggs in the capped period. The back-up, just-started Q cells must have an egg close to issue timing. It seems that trimming down for flight does not completely shut down her capacity for laying a few eggs. In the new location, she can lay in cells with barely started sidewalls, like an eighth inch, in just a couple days.

    Keep in mind that she doesn't decide when or where to lay. The court/retinue makes that call, and escorts her to where they want eggs. It's their job to take her there and encourage her to lay. (Not a popular opinion)

    Walt

  14. #14

    Default Re: what happens to queen laying activity when hive is prepping for swarm?

    Quote Originally Posted by RayMarler View Post
    Good post.

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