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Thread: swarm cell nucs

  1. #1
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    Default swarm cell nucs

    Would like to know who waits till swarm season to do their colony increases by using the swarm cells produced and dividing colonies up into nucs and giving them a ripe cell. Normally, swarm cells are nice and large, well fed, and there are a good number of them in the hive, so making use of them for increase makes sense to me. Only thing I would worry about is getting a swarm out of the hive about the time the first cells are capped, is there a way to prevent this from happening such as removing her or confining her, and what would be the timing of doing that? John

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    Default Re: swarm cell nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by jmgi View Post
    Only thing I would worry about is getting a swarm out of the hive about the time the first cells are capped, is there a way to prevent this from happening such as removing her or confining her, and what would be the timing of doing that? John
    This is the issue, timing is everything and you more or less have to get it down to the day, or you lose the swarm, or put cells in splits that are too young.

    You'll see certain schedules written about exctlay which day after the first cell is started that the bees will swarm, sometimes they'll say day 10. But actually I've seen hives swarm before any queen cells are even capped, and also seen virgins hatch and the hive still hasn't swarmed.

    So while at face value this seems an easy method, it's risky if you are trying to plan it. It can best be used when you happen upon a hive with swarm cells and you can then make splits. But trying to induce a hive to make cells and then split requires a lot of monitoring.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  3. #3

    Default Re: swarm cell nucs

    Oldtimer is right, in my opinion. In addition once those swarm cells have been capped....many hives are committed to swarming and if you've robbed their queen cells...they'll swarm all the same and leave the parent colony will be hopelessly queenless.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  4. #4

    Default Re: swarm cell nucs

    A lot of time I will move them to a nuc and let them hatch. If I get lucky a new nuc or a couple of nucs. And If it becomes queenless I still have a queen to put back in it.
    David
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    http://www.davidspaintingandwallpapering.com"

  5. #5
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    Default Re: swarm cell nucs

    I agree with timing being so critical, and you may still lose a swarm if they decide to leave before a cell is capped, but couldn't you improve the odds of everything going your way by at least removing the queen to a nuc just before the cells are capped, no queen, no swarm. Then after the cells are capped make up your splits. What do they say is the best day (number of days old) to transfer cells? Thanks, John.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: swarm cell nucs

    Why not do an artificial swarm as soon as you see them building swarm cells? Take the queen and some resources and make a split. Then after the swarm cells are capped you can make some more splits, just leave some in the old hive to requeen it.

  7. #7

    Default Re: swarm cell nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by rweakley View Post
    Why not do an artificial swarm as soon as you see them building swarm cells?
    This is where it can get real tricky. Ok...you have open swarm cells with larvae and royal jelly...so you remove momma queen. Now what happens is they realize they are queenless and start making emergency cells. Your swarm cells emerge...then a week later your emergency cells emerge.....and voila!
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

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    Default Re: swarm cell nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    This is where it can get real tricky. Ok...you have open swarm cells with larvae and royal jelly...so you remove momma queen. Now what happens is they realize they are queenless and start making emergency cells. Your swarm cells emerge...then a week later your emergency cells emerge.....and voila!
    UMmmm, How is that a problem? Did you read my entire post? Sorry I didn't go into minutiae about the process but I thought looking for emergency cells when you go back into the hive when the original cells are capped and make more splits was pretty well understood. Those you can destroy. Best way to avoid losing a swarm is to go ahead and do the swarm, this way you pick where they go.

  9. #9

    Default Re: swarm cell nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by rweakley View Post
    Did you read my entire post?
    Read it but it didn't connect. Sorry about that.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  10. #10
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    Default Re: swarm cell nucs

    I didn't think about them making emergency cells after the swarm cells had already been started, seemed to me that the swarm cells would have been a sufficient number of queens in the pipeline as is, but what do I know. John

  11. #11
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    Default Re: swarm cell nucs

    Like rweakley said, When i happen on a hive with swarm cells i will break it down to the bottom box,(looking for the queen) workers will drive the queen down and slim her down so she can fly. I'll put her in a nuc(if i find her) with one frame of brood and 4 drawn frames of comb, i leave 2 queen cells in the old hive and make nucs out of how ever many nice fat queen cells left by putting one queen cell in each nuc. I then take all the nucs to outyards several miles away,it doesn't bother me to tear that hive apart to make more hives, because you were going to lose half or more of the bees when they swarmed and what was left wouldn't make you a honey crop anyway. What nucs that don't take i combine with another nuc. If you want more hives this is one way to do it.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: swarm cell nucs

    Yea, I think if I'm going to work hard, I may as well make it worthwhile, every year I spend lots of time keeping them from swarming by reversing, opening the broodnest with empty combs, cutting out cells, etc., and they still end up swarming up into the tallest trees around, so because I want to increase my hive numbers anyways this year, I think I will use these swarm cells to make as many nucs as I can. John

  13. #13
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    Default Re: swarm cell nucs

    I don't do it on purpose, but I often do it. Whenever I find swarm cells.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
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    Default Re: swarm cell nucs

    oldtimer..beemandan...others....What you say is totally true, but there are lots of things you can do, if you want to do what jmgi asked in starting the thread.

    I do basically what jmgi asked each year. I feed heavily in March (two deep brood hives) to stimulate the queen to expand to the point where they become crowded and swarming is likely. As I go through the brood stock, I look for increased brood and queen cells. If I find them, I take the queen and three or four frames plus a frame of foundation, put in a nuc and relocate to another yard. The queen is not likely, (Never say Never), to swarm, due to reduced bees she has available, and a new location. The bees may very well attempt to replace her, since they may already be in swarming mode, however, they may make queen cells in the new nuc, and then it is a matter of whether she will servive or they will supercede her.

    If I find multiple capped queen cells on a frame, I will take that frame and a couple more and one frame foundation and place it in a nuc, move to an outyard where I keep queen cell nucs, set it aside, mark it as queen cells. If by day 15 - 20, I don't have a queen in that nuc, and if the queen cells have in fact emerged, I give that nuc a new queen, let it build as a normal nuc.

    If I find additional frames with at least one good capped queen cell on a frame, I will put a couple of those with three frames, place in a nuc, move to an outyard, and do the same as above.

    The parent colony has no queen, or queen cells so, I give it a new queen. It has been so reduced and without a swarm it will not likely (again, Never say Never), swarm. In my little operation of selling 100 nucs each year, and keeping my broodstock up, I normally get 20-40 of these queen cell splits, of which perhaps 65% maybe a little more will be successful in raising their own queen. Those that don't will get a new queen.

    So, to answer jmgi, yes, it can be done. It all depends on how rapidly the brood hives build up, how many queen cells are produced, whether you catch them at the right time, how much nectar and pollen is available, your personal management objectives (honey production vrs nucs produced), and how much time you want (can afford) to spend in your brood stock.

    cchoganjr
    Last edited by Cleo C. Hogan Jr; 01-14-2013 at 10:19 AM. Reason: spelling grammar

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