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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Marshall, MN
    Posts
    11

    Default Swarm Prevention: too late?

    Noob here needing advice on what to do with a hive that wants to swarm (in July!). Queen was vigorous, but in past week has stopped laying eggs and we've been killing 5-10 queen cells per week for the past 3-4 weeks. (Not sure - some may be supercedure but pretty sure some are swarm)

    A little more background:
    -Bought two 8-frame nucs Mid-may. Both seemed pretty vigorous. Since they were 8 frames fully drawn out with lots of brood we immediately added an upper deep for them to work on, and gave board feeders with sugar syrup to feed them.
    -By mid-June both hives were doing well and had pretty drawn out all frames in the upper deep with lots of new brood and lots of capped honey. We noticed (and removed) our first queen cells at this time though. At this time we also removed the board feeders, and added a super on each to give 'em more room.
    -Surprisingly, after this both hives STOPPED drawing out new comb. In the three weeks since neither super has had any comb drawn out, despite it being nectar flow time. Instead, each week we've removed 5-10 queen cells per hive.
    -This weekend, one of the hives swarmed (we must've missed removing a cell?). Luckily we caught the swarm, so we'll be focusing the rest of the year on building up those two hives for the winter.

    BUT - we'd like to salvage the other hive if we can (our only hope for honey this year!). Problem is - it obviously has the same or a similar problem as the hive that swarmed. And what's more, the queen has stopped laying eggs (I can't find her but I think she's still in there - the "buzz" doesn't sound any different from normal and I don't see any eggs from workers - yet, anyway). Is this likely because they were getting ready to swarm? Or a sign of something else? Anything we can do to salvage this hive?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Panama City, Florida, USA
    Posts
    554

    Default Re: Swarm Prevention: too late?

    Let them build some more cells. When they are close to being capped, remove the queen and three to 4 frames of open brood, sealed brood, honey & pollen and put them in a nuc or a 10 frames single. Then you will have 2 hives instead of one. Sometimes you have to sacrifice the honey. If they are not drawing wax, they are not going to produce the surplus anyway.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,848

    Default Re: Swarm Prevention: too late?

    Being a nuc you don't know the age of the queen unless the seller put a new queen in there. They may be wanting to supercede her so you need to let them or your hive is going to crash at some point. Also, you say she's not laying but you can't be squashing queencells for 3-4 weeks without new eggs. Only thing I can see is both hives got honey bound since you said lots of capped honey in the upper deeps?? What does each box have in it? How much brood, how much honey? It triggered swarming and now they don't want to work the upper super. You probably should've checkerboarded the new super (if it's a deep, but I'm assuming medium) so that wasn't an option, but it seems like you added space too late maybe and did not open up the brood nest for them to eliminate the swarm trigger. See it a lot since people add smaller sized supers and can't open up the brood nest when they add the new box and the bees will swarm if there's a lot of stored nectar or honey in the brood nests instead of moving up.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Marshall, MN
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Swarm Prevention: too late?

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    Also, you say she's not laying but you can't be squashing queencells for 3-4 weeks without new eggs.
    The queen was laying eggs really well until about a week ago. This weekend when I checked was the first time I didn't see eggs. (There's brood but no eggs)

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    Only thing I can see is both hives got honey bound since you said lots of capped honey in the upper deeps?? What does each box have in it? How much brood, how much honey?
    You may be on to something here..... At the point when we put the supers on, I would say the upper deep was 35% honey, 30% brood, and the rest was jelly or pollen. Is that too much honey? We did remove the board feeder at the same time so that immediately freed up a little space, but maybe the swarm impulse had already been triggered?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
    Posts
    2,025

    Default Re: Swarm Prevention: too late?

    Quote Originally Posted by silverleaf View Post
    ...we've been killing 5-10 queen cells per week for the past 3-4 weeks.
    In my experience, removing queen cells is not effective in preventing swarms, but is effective in becoming queenless. Once they start building swarm cells they're already in swarm mode, and splitting the colony is usually the best course of action (lots of queen cells indicates swarming, very few queen cells indicate supercedure).

    Surprisingly, after this both hives STOPPED drawing out new comb.
    Bees only draw comb when they think they need to. If they had already decided to swarm, they would stop building. If they felt that the nectar flow had diminished - because you stopped feeding - they would stop building.

    This weekend, one of the hives swarmed (we must've missed removing a cell?).
    Because they had decided to swarm. Removing cells doesn't prevent swarming.

    And what's more, the queen has stopped laying eggs. Is this likely because they were getting ready to swarm?
    Could be. Are you seeing swarm cells? Also, what's your weather? Much of my area here in Indiana is in drought, and queens are slowing down since there's little nectar.

    Lastly, don't beat yourself up over swarming. If you read many threads here on the forum, you'll see that this year has been exceptional for swarms. In the big picture, swarms are the product of strong, healthy hives, and that's a far better problem than having your bees dwindle and die.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Marshall, MN
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Swarm Prevention: too late?

    Quote Originally Posted by indypartridge View Post
    Could be. Are you seeing swarm cells? Also, what's your weather? Much of my area here in Indiana is in drought, and queens are slowing down since there's little nectar.

    Lastly, don't beat yourself up over swarming. If you read many threads here on the forum, you'll see that this year has been exceptional for swarms. In the big picture, swarms are the product of strong, healthy hives, and that's a far better problem than having your bees dwindle and die.
    Thanks! I'm feeling a little better. Here in MN it has been hot (above 90 most days for the past couple weeks) and for the past month dry too.

    So - If I do split this hive, do I have any chance at all of getting honey out of it this year? The thought of getting nil for my first year beekeeping is a little on the depressing side (even if it would mean next year is a good year...).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Dunlap, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Swarm Prevention: too late?

    On the topic of swarms, I recently had a colony swarm. I did manage to catch it and install it in another hive. My question is: what should I do about the sealed queen cells left behind??? I have read much about destroying all but two capped queen cells to prevent a cast swarm, but I have also read that I need to split this colony with some of the queen cells to prevent a cast swarm. This colony contains at least ten capped queen cells at this point. It is in a 2 deep hive with 3 supers on it ,and Imrie shims, as the flow here in west central Iowa was filling boxes like crazy till they swarmed. So, once again, should I split the colony? destroy a portion of the queen cells? Any advice for a first year beekeeper would be appreciated.

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