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Thread: TBH Swarmed?

  1. #1
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    Default TBH Swarmed?

    Hi All,

    This is my first year keeping bee's (located in central New Hampshire) and we started off with two hives of Italians. One hive doing great and one hive seeming to be a little slower.

    My questions and the advice I'm seeking is about the one doing "great."

    I've been going into the two hives each Saturday or Sunday to inspect and see what each hive is doing. This past Wednesday 06/26 I went into the hives since I had a day off from work and I added two top bars (to the hive doing great) since they were filling each bar out nicely. I looked at each bar (in the strong hive; about 12 in all) and there were no swarm cells. Fast forward to today 06/30 and I have about 10+ capped swarm cells in my strong hive.

    I've inspected the hive the best I can and haven't located the queen, but my guess is she's left since I was only able to spot larve on one frame that didn't have the appearance of being drone comb. I could be wrong here. Also, I'm not sure how much this matters, but the hive doesn't look like it's lost any bees. Compared to our weaker colony, it has a very high population. Could the queen of left by herself? Or could she have left with only a few thousand other bees?

    My questions are how to go about dealing with the 10+ capped cells? Would it be smart to split the hive? I have two nuc boxes and it doesn't look like I've lost any bees but the thing I'd hate is to watch half a dozen after swarms take place and be left back at the starting gate (which wouldn't be terrible since they've already drawn lots of comb).

    Would putting 2-3 frames in a nuc box with 2-4 capped queen cells be worth trying inorder to prevent the hive from completely swarming?

    Thanks in advance for any and all advice!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: TBH Swarmed?

    Yes. I would split them if you he 10+ swarm cells and they are crowded. Just make sure each split has a queen cell.

    http://bushfarms.com/beesswarmcontrol.htm
    http://bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
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    Default Re: TBH Swarmed?

    @ Michael Bush -

    Thanks for your response! When I posted this yesterday I went to work building a few nuc boxes. My top bars from my TBH actually fit with the dimensions I found online for a Langthroth nuc box.

    Yesterday after noon I split the hive. I put three full top bars into a two different nuc boxes (removed 6 bars total). Was splitting it this much bad?

    The main hive has about 6-7 full bars after pulling out the other 6. I made sure the main hive and each nuc had the following:

    -3 Full top bars loaded with bees
    -A small section of drone comb
    -Larve that doesn't appear to be drone larve (it was in smaller cells, but I could be wrong)
    -Capped swarm cells (2-3)

    The bees clustered the swarm cells in groups of 2-4 on the bottom section of the bars.

    Then I drove the two nucs about 15 miles away to my sisters property, a neighbor has a massive farm about a 1,000 feet away, so hopefully some great foraging there.

    Can any one point out the pros / cons of this split. I tried reading as much as I could before splitting but realize I probably did a few things wrong.

    Thanks for your feedback.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: TBH Swarmed?

    >Yesterday after noon I split the hive. I put three full top bars into a two different nuc boxes (removed 6 bars total). Was splitting it this much bad?

    It depends on what you want for an outcome. When I split a hive intent on swarming, I put every frame that has at least one queen cell in a nuc with one frame of honey. I like free queens...

    >Then I drove the two nucs about 15 miles away to my sisters property, a neighbor has a massive farm about a 1,000 feet away, so hopefully some great foraging there.

    I have never moved a split out of the yard I made it in. But I suppose if you have a place you can and don't mind the drive...

    >Can any one point out the pros / cons of this split. I tried reading as much as I could before splitting but realize I probably did a few things wrong.

    Sounds great.

    http://bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
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    Default Re: TBH Swarmed?

    @ Michael Bush -

    Thanks for the reply. It's good to know I'm not completely messing things up. But I realize things can change over the next few weeks.

    I would have loved to kept the nucs with the main hives, but was told by a local experienced beek that if I had the ability to move them away that would help keep the bees in the nucs from going back to the main hive (if on same property as the main hive).

    My intentions with the splits, I'd love to gain a few more hives. Packages or nucs aren't cheap and if I can increase my chances of not losing bees and growing the number of hives I have that'd be great.

    Thanks for the link, I'll make sure to give it a good read tonight. You've got some great stuff on your website!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: TBH Swarmed?

    Back with a few more questions.

    The local apiary has queens in stock (both my two hives are currently queenless) and the apiary has queens that are a Carniolan-Russian mix. My bees are both Italians.

    1) Is it hard to get the hive to accept a queen of a different breed and is it even alright to do? (My weaker hive just lost a queen due to my poor decision making when attempting to split it since they were making queen cells, there are no capped queen cells and no eggs or larve to use; at least from what I can notice)

    I've read the bee math on Michael Bush's website. According to the math my queens should be hatching from the hive (my stronger hive)

    2) How long do mating flights take? I think I have 1 or 2 queens on a mating flight since I inspected the hive this morning and noticed all queen cells have been de-capped and one contains a whiteish (earlier stage queen?) queen that is dead. I'm guessing the first-to-hatch queen killed this one?

    I'm just debating on where to purchase two queens or one because neither hive has eggs or larve that are in right time frame to be used for making a queen.

    It's been a great learning experience but I feel like I've been getting my butt kicked a lot.

    Thanks for the response and insights!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: TBH Swarmed?

    >1) Is it hard to get the hive to accept a queen of a different breed and is it even alright to do?

    Pure Russians can be difficult. My guess is your crosses won't be an issue.

    >2) How long do mating flights take? I think I have 1 or 2 queens on a mating flight since I inspected the hive this morning and noticed all queen cells have been de-capped and one contains a whiteish (earlier stage queen?) queen that is dead. I'm guessing the first-to-hatch queen killed this one?

    First one out kills the rest, yes. Mating flights take place between 4 days and 21 days after emergence. I expect to find eggs most of the time at 14 days.

    >I'm just debating on where to purchase two queens or one because neither hive has eggs or larve that are in right time frame to be used for making a queen.

    But one probably has a virgin queen who will kill your purchased queen.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
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    Default Re: TBH Swarmed?

    @ Michael Bush -

    Thanks so much for all the insight and feedback. Thanks for taking the time to respond each time Michael, it's been a huge help!

    To make sure the bees accept the new queen, would it be smart to use a requeening frame?

    Like this one? http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com...oductinfo/274/

    I've got all my own woodworking equipment so making one isn't a problem. Just wanted to see if they are a smart idea. Would you also allow some attendant bees (maybe 2-5) to look after her?

    So it sounds like with my hive that has de-capped queen cells I should continue to be patient.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: TBH Swarmed?

    Back yet again!

    So I've gone into my nucs that I made back when I split my strong hive.

    I found the queen in one of them, she was clearly different looking than the rest with her over all shape and color of her. That and her behavior was clearly different than every other bee. She was constantly going to the other side of the frame and trying to get away from me where as the other bees didn't display this behavior, nor did she look like she was doing anything, so I'm guessing she's a virgin queen?

    Does size of the queen matter? She was no larger / longer than a regular worker. Being that this is my first time going through the splitting process, should I replace her with a purchased queen that is of the right size / quality? The quantity of bees in the hive is good, I just not sure of what to look for in a queen.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by Jared.Downs; 07-13-2013 at 07:04 PM. Reason: Adding description.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: TBH Swarmed?

    So yesterday 06/13 I requeened my weak hive (not my strong hive that I initially split and am trying to get the splits to rear their own queens).

    I observed the hive from the outside today and it's the busiest I've ever seen that hive (granted the weather was high 80's low 90's, not humid or rainy like it has been).

    Every 20th or 30th bee was carrying in pollen (I think this was a good sign; please correct me if I'm wrong).

    So hopefully they accepted their new queen and that hive will thrive.

    How long should I wait to go into the hive that I just requeened? And is there a need to feed a hive that was requeen or is that just for hives / nucs that are rearing their own?

  11. #11
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    Default Re: TBH Swarmed?

    "Does size of the queen matter? She was no larger / longer than a regular worker."

    There will of course be individual variations; but in this case you're probably looking at a virgin queen that can still fly. Her ovaries won't grow in size until such time as she's ready to start laying. The queen's abdomen will shrink during the winter months when she is not laying, and prior to swarming, so that she can fly.

    BTW, I wouldn't replace her. Once she's mated she'll likely be every bit as good as any queen you could buy; maybe even better, since she's the daughter of a (presumably) successful hive adapted to your local conditions, mated to local drones.
    Last edited by DrWeevil; 07-15-2013 at 09:52 PM. Reason: Adding more to the message

  12. #12
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    Default Re: TBH Swarmed?

    @drweevil-

    Thank you for your response and insight!

    I went into the nucs today (07/19) and found both nucs had a queen that was good size or atleast bigger than the one I saw on 07/13.

    The queen in one of the nucs was laying eggs! I was super excited to see a frame full of eggs that had just been recently laid.

    And I spotted the new queen in the original hive (the first queen swarmed which resulted in 10-14 queen cells that I split between the main hive and 2 nucs).

    Now to wait and see for the other queens to start laying eggs. If the non-laying queen in the other nuc doesn't start laying, should I consider adding the two nucs together. A local very experience beekeeper said that with our weather, doing a 3-4 frame nuc at this time of year wont build up to be a strong hive going into winter. He said a minimum of 7-8 frames. Any other thoughts?

  13. #13
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    Default Re: TBH Swarmed?

    If I notice that there is a heavy drone population in my nucs, is there anything I can or should do about that?


    I went into them today and my concern is that the nucs (2-3 frames) already don't have a large group of foragers and that the drones are consuming anything that they are able to store. Am I being foolish?


    Also, if a nuc starts drawing fresh comb is that a sign that the queen is laying or that they're able to forage and eat enough?

    Thanks!

  14. #14
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    Default Re: TBH Swarmed?

    >If I notice that there is a heavy drone population in my nucs, is there anything I can or should do about that?

    Drone populations max out at about 25% during some times of the year and drop off in dearths and winter.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
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    Default Re: TBH Swarmed?

    @Michael Bush-

    Thanks for the info! I've been letting the do their thing.

    I noticed one hive that I recently requeened is far more active but doesn't seem to be expanding towards the back of the hive. The brood nest is exploding with bees, but I'm concerned they do not want to move backwards. I've been taking frames from the brood nest / front of the hive and moving them back a space at a time to increase comb production / increase the brood chamber and spread out the bees.

    Any advice because it looks like some of the new comb their making is drone comb and I would hate for my newly requeened hive to swarm.

    Thanks.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: TBH Swarmed?

    >Any advice because it looks like some of the new comb their making is drone comb and I would hate for my newly requeened hive to swarm.

    Keep the brood nest open with empty bars if they are at all crowded. If you put the empty bars between really straight comb you will get more really straight comb...

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesswarmcontrol.htm#opening
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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