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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Delta, BC Canada
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    111

    Default Uh oh - Is my new hive about to swarm??

    Sorry for the blurry pic ... it was a bit awkard trying to take this with my iPhone.

    I did a very quick inspection today, and I found something completely unexpected. All I wanted to do was see how they were progressing with the 3rd medium brood box I added a week ago ... and I see what looks like swarm cells to me (these are on the bottom of a frame in the top box). This is a brand new hive from a package ... on previously undrawn foundation. I really wasn't expecting to have to deal with swarming until next year, but it looks like that's not the case!

    I'm pretty sure they haven't already swarmed as the numbers look quite high to me (certainly more than last inspection).

    So, a few questions:

    1) Are those indeed swarm cells? (It looks like i managed to "uncap" one when removing the frame and the larvae is shown in the middle of the photo in one of the cells)

    2) How much time do I have before the actually swarm?

    3) I'm a newbie, so what's the recommended split method? I'd like to just do a basic cut-down split or something, but not sure how to do that with 3 mediums all containing brood. Do I need to go and look for the queen instead?


    I'm not great at seeing eggs, but I definitely saw very small larvae ... all sizes of larvae actually (very tiny to larger). argh!

    photo 1.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    542

    Default Re: Uh oh - Is my new hive about to swarm??

    The single thing at the top of the picture is a queen cup, not a swarm cell, at least not yet. Can you see an egg in it?

    Queen cups are natural and not, by themselves, indicative of a swarm. Of course if you see a lot of them (like more than 10) then they could be the precursors to getting swarm cells filled and capped. From the angle of the picture it's hard to tell if there is a slew of queen cups, or just a lot of lumpy burr comb.

    Is your hive crowded for brood laying space or nectar storage space? Do you have some empty frames to add to the sides of the brood nest areas so you might have something like this: brood frames >inserted new frame > honey frame at the outside edges? This is the minimalist iteration of an anti-swarm technique known as "opening the brood nest", sometimes it's mistakenly described as checkerboarding, which is a different tactic. Bees don't like their brood nests monkeyed with, especially when it is still cool. But in my single Spring's experience (evaluate what I say based on that fact) they don't get pissed when a empty frame is inserted on the outer edges of their brood nest. Instead they get busy drawing it so the queen can lay there, too. Keeps their minds off swarming, supposedly. YMMV, of course.

    If you do a cut-down, you'll need a fourth box (plus base, top, etc. for the second hive) and enough frames to fill it up. You would divide the bees, frames of open, mixed and capped brood and nectar, pollen and capped honey, making sure that each box has eggs or very tiny larva to cook up their own queen if left without the queen. The extra frames of the fourth box would be divvied up as well, being salted at the outsides of the other boxes, as appropriate. A cut-down is very disruptive to the bees and won't keep them from making more queen cups, nor I think, is it guaranteed to prevent swarming if they are already far along that path.

    Adding more space to lay eggs (the empty frames inserted as described above) and store nectar (more super space) might do the trick. Good luck.

    Enj.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Delta, BC Canada
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    111

    Default Re: Uh oh - Is my new hive about to swarm??

    I couldn't see an egg in the cup, but I'm pretty sure the other cluster of cells are elongated queen cells ... they sure don't look like screwy burr comb to me, anyway! Anyone else care to offer an opinion?

    They have plenty of space, so I'm not sure why they would be considering swarming already ... unless it's just a characteristic of this queen?

    I'm half wondering if maybe they started feeling crowded before I added the 3rd box ... and thought about swarming. Now that they have the 3rd box with plenty of room, maybe I should cut out those swarm cells? I'm at a bit of a loss what to do here!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Delta, BC Canada
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    111

    Default Re: Uh oh - Is my new hive about to swarm??

    Any insight from experienced beeks here?? I'm floundering around...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Strafford County, NH
    Posts
    720

    Default Re: Uh oh - Is my new hive about to swarm??

    Don't count me in as an experienced beekeeper YET, but I wouldn't cut out a swarm cell because if they do swarm, there goes your future queen.

    From what I hear, if they've already made up their mind to swarm, there's no turning back.

    I'd make sure they have plenty of space - put more supers on, that one looks full, no? - and if you want, split the hive 50/50 but make sure you have a queen cell in each hive.

    That's my limited experience 2 cents worth.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Delta, BC Canada
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    111

    Default Re: Uh oh - Is my new hive about to swarm??

    Thanks NewbeeInNH.

    I got feedback from Michael Bush the those aren't actually necessarily swarm cells - but just funky drone cells (and one empty queen cup). They have plenty of room actually - at least 5 empty frames in the top box, so that shouldn't be a problem. I might just leave well enough alone at this point and keep my fingers crossed.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Lee's Summit, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Uh oh - Is my new hive about to swarm??

    I agree with Michael.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,492

    Default Re: Uh oh - Is my new hive about to swarm??

    Those are drones, not queen cells. One queen cup. No indications they are going to swarm, especially if there is adequate space in the hive and open brood.

    Peter

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Delta, BC Canada
    Posts
    111

    Default Re: Uh oh - Is my new hive about to swarm??

    Thanks y'all. Would anyone recommend removing that funky drone comb/cells on my next inspection?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Lumpkin County, GA
    Posts
    154

    Default Re: Uh oh - Is my new hive about to swarm??

    Quote Originally Posted by dkofoed View Post
    Thanks y'all. Would anyone recommend removing that funky drone comb/cells on my next inspection?
    I would remove them from the frame and then examine the larvae for mites.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,482

    Default Re: Uh oh - Is my new hive about to swarm??

    You could do that or just leave them alone. Because you use worker brood foundation there is no place to raise drones except between the frames. A healthy hive has drones. A lot of them.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Delta, BC Canada
    Posts
    111

    Default Re: Uh oh - Is my new hive about to swarm??

    Fair points - appreciate the feedback!

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