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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Clinton, Mississippi, USA
    Posts
    26

    Default What to do - Honey Bound in the fall?

    I'm a very inexperienced BeeKeeper. I've been "tightning" up my hives in preparation for winter. From the stores collected it looks like my area had a decent flow this fall. I've reduced my hives to two brood boxes each. Most seem to have a heavier top box than bottom. I'm assuming that's because there's more brood in the bottom boxes. However, I'm concerned that several of my hives have become honey bound as there is very little room for the queen to continue laying. Right now it appears she's just laying where there is room. Bees are everywhere but not solid over all frames. I'd estimate 65% - 75% coverage though. The frames are not all capped as there is uncapped cells with nectar/uncapped honey all over the place. I've noticed anywhere between five to ten good queen cells depending on the hive. I destroyed all of them as I didn't want my hives to swarm. I did verify that all queens were alive and well by observing uncapped brood and by putting my eyes on the queen(s). Would a hive actually swarm this late in the year? I'm assuming I can pull a 2-4 frames (2 from the lower brood box and 2 from the upper brood box) from the center of the brood box of each hive in that I think is honey bound and extract the honey so I'm able to put empty comb for the queen to lay in back in the hive(s). Am I right to do this?

    I've got nine hives and four of them are as described above. The Golden Rod is pretty heavy so I won't keep the honey but would like to give it back to the bees. However, if I try to provide an open air feeding setup won't they just fill the comb back up? Should I try to "save" the honey and feed it back to them later in the winter? If I should open feed, how do you keep the bees from drowing in a tray, bin, tuperware container, etc?

    Thanks in advance for all assistance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    648

    Default Re: What to do - Honey Bound in the fall?

    Did the queen cells have a larvae in them and were any capped?
    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,804

    Default Re: What to do - Honey Bound in the fall?

    Don't do anything. Brood rearing will shut down soon and the hives are well prepped storage wise for winter. Relax.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Clinton, Mississippi, USA
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: What to do - Honey Bound in the fall?

    Quote Originally Posted by mgolden View Post
    Did the queen cells have a larvae in them and were any capped?
    Yes. All queen cells had larva and were capped. There were/are additional queen cups but they hadn't been capped yet. A couple had eggs most didn't.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    McClure, OH
    Posts
    1,017

    Default Re: What to do - Honey Bound in the fall?

    Well, sounds like your hive is ready to swarm. It is really hard to stop them once they have it in their heads to swarm - destroying the cells will give you about a week before they have new cells ready to cap.

    If you have extra boxes, grab the queen and the open brood (or just a couple of brood frames) with adhering bees and put them in a new box. Stay on top of the new box by adding foundation as needed to keep them from plugging it up. Destroy all the cells but 2 of the biggest ones in the old box and let the hive(s) try to raise a queen. Give them a new super if the flow is still going.

    Once the new queen gets successfully mated, if you like her, keep her and keep your split. Otherwise, dispatch her and re-unite the hive with its queen. You could also dispatch the old queen if the new queen is good and go through winter with a young queen.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,335

    Default Re: What to do - Honey Bound in the fall?

    Honey bound in early winter is the objective of all colonies - the whole cavity filled with stores provides the optimum configuration for winter survival. Backfilling of the broodnest with nectar is the final step in colony winter preps.

    The way I read this thread and your feeding thread, all of these colonies are this year starters. If that's the case, you are a very aggressive beginner. (Take that as a compliment and not a slam.) But if they are all starters, I doubt that they intended to swarm. The starter colony (1st year) has some unique characteristics. One of them is to supersede their queen when they have developed what they consider to be an adequate broodnest size. In the double deep, that's when the first deep is essentially filled with active comb, and the beek has added a second deep. Often unseen by the new beekeeper who is monitoring growth into the second box, added at the top.

    Now that you have destroyed the queen cells, we will never know whether the intent was supersedure or swarm, but my money is on SS. 10 cells is a low number for a double deep swarm cell count. And I would give odds that the 5 cell count was SS.

    It doesn't matter which option the bees intended, they will likely start over with new cells.
    You will get another chance to guess, and take action. But what ever you decide, you are running out of calendar time.

    Good luck,
    Walt

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,876

    Default Re: What to do - Honey Bound in the fall?

    You done good, they done good. Too late to do them much good, so relax and have a good winter. Spend that winter getting ready to split those bees next spring before they swarm. For now, just stay out until you are approaching the swarm season for your area.

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