So last year was my first year and I started out with two nucs. One I chopped and cropped into a TBH. The other I worked down into a Warre. The TBH swarmed this time last year. I suspect what happened was that our heavy June flow back filled their brood nest and caused them to swarm. My Warre chugged along and filled about 3 boxes. As far as I know it didn't swarm.
Now this spring my TBH swarmed again in early spring despite me giving it plenty of empty bars. Bummer. I also started 4 additional hives. 2 Lang and 2 Warre all from nucs. One of the Lang nucs took off and has 2 deeps and 1 medium filled. The other has a deep filled and is working on a medium. It's lagging a little behind the other. One of my Warres got mauled by a bear, but seems to be coming through ok. The other swarmed...arg. I suspect the issue with that hive was my mistake. In early June I checked on them and they had completely filled a box. So I had two empty combs that I put in a supered box above and left an empty box below. Well they filled the supered box and didn't touch the nadired box. So I should have put a comb above and below. It's at an out apiary that I couldn't get to until the end of June. So they swarmed instead of move down.
So I would like to break down each swarm to see what can be gotten out of each situation and maybe find something that I can do differently.
First off lets start with the TBH. Maybe it's a design flaw and the thing will swarm each spring. This spring I added 4 empty bars between the brood nest and the end entrance. Thinking that they would expand the brood nest with those 4 bars. Then once the dandelions started really blooming I added a couple of empty bars into the brood nest. By the time I went back in to see if they needed more bars I found dozens of queen cups. So it was at that time that I split them. So I didn't lose any bees in this situation. My strategy for next year is to be more aggressive with the bees and adding empty bars. I plan on adding 6-8 empties at the front. Once I see that comb building is starting I will add more empties in the brood nest itself. Hopefully this will be enough to keep them from swarming.
The other swarm is the swarm from my new Warre. Again this was at an out apiary. If I had checked in on them even just 3 times in June instead of two they probably would not have swarmed. If I originally had put an empty comb in the empty box above and below they would be in three boxes and working on the fourth. So my mistake...live and learn.
What I don't understand is that today I found that one of my Langs swarmed. This was started from a nuc in very early May. They quickly filled out the first deep and then even quicker filled the second. I then put on a medium super. I am running foundationless (and 8 frame) so I put a medium seed comb in the medium. Most of the comb in this medium has been drawn out. I would say the box as a whole is about 1/2 filled with honey and about 2/3rds filled with comb. So they still had space to expand. Today I opened up the entire hive. I found that the top deep is mostly honey with two frames of capped brood, two of spotty drone/honey, and the rest honey. I also saw a ton of capped brood and no eggs in the bottom deep. There seemed to be less bees than there has been in the past and a fair number of drones. Then I saw queen cells...great. So at first I just thought that no matter what I will just always fail at preventing bees from swarming.
But then I started to think about it. My TBH last year swarmed and I think it swarmed for the same reason. They simply did not have enough comb to place all of the nectar. We have a fairly intense flow in June. So they filled every inch of space they had available to them and took off as they had likely decided that their hive was setup nicely. Is there any merit to this? Is there any way of preventing this? Other than waiting until I have enough drawn comb sitting around? I could probably understand if somebody told me that the TBH swarms because that's what TBHs do, but my Lang swarmed while still having space to draw comb. So there must be a deeper reason for this. I know that some of the swarms are my mistakes, but just looking for maybe a little insight. If I can prevent something in the future I'd like to.
Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.