We have had a lot of rainy weather. I found 4 hives with q cells on 6/26. I left a single Q.cell on each site and moved the brood and other q cells , in their boxes, within my apiary. I calculate that queens should emerge 7/1 to 7/5. Mating should occur by 7/12. In the meantime I'll move the parts that contain multiple queen cells and the original queens a couple of times to shed the flying bees.
I am not looking to increase the number of hives I have, I'm looking to recombine to catch the honey flow.
What is the earliest I can recombine? If I combine after 7/12 when I believe mating will be complete, but laying hasn't started, will swarming be prevented? In other words what is likely to occur if a mated unlaying queen is combined with another laying unit? Will a swarm issue or will they duke it out?
I could wait until there are eggs in both parts, but that may mean missing out on the flow.
Good question but I don't know if I have the answer..... What I do when I find a hive with swarm cells is I think what you did. I remove the queen along with enough frames and bees to support a 5 frame nuc. I add frames of foundation or foundationless frames and whatever else is needed (extra super?) to provide the bees with more space. I leave all the queen cells in the original colony. If they are great bees and the population will support it I might create a second nuc with one or more of the queen cells. Making the space and removing the queen MAY prevent the original colony from swarming. The bees in the originial colony will continue to collect nectar and in fact more bees may take to the task as there isn't any brood to tend to until the new queen is mated and laying. You must check on this to make sure the brood area isn't becoming honey bound or they may still swarm with the first queen that emerges. Once you know you have a good laying queen and the pattern is solid then you could dispatch the old queen and do a newspaper combine of those bees and the original colony.
My experience is that often when the swarm urge is developed in a hive, it is difficult to reverse the process unless you promote the process by making splits, using the queen cell(s) in the new splits. I did just that with one hive in late May here - it had 12 queen cells on one frame, and so I made ten splits from three booming hives, and gave the other two cells to a neighbor. The splits are doing well, will be in a double deep in two weeks, and the parent hives are at about 90% as the rest of the hives in my home yard. I'm always on the lookout for a way to make increases...
I am still on a learning curve. My bees are making bees, but I am getting better at keeping them here.
When I have some stocks of drawn comb I think it will be easier to keep them from swarming.
I have followed the method outlined in "Practical Beekeeping" for hanging onto the bees. It seems to be working; Leaving only a single queen cell on the original site they don't swarm, by moving the split around several times around emergence the flying bees are not available to depart as a swarm.
Yet my goal is not to make increase I want to make some honey and draw out some supers. Hence I would rather recombine the original and the split and am wondering about the timing for doing so. If it were earlier in the season I wouldn't be as concerned, but we are coming up to the mother of all flows and I would rather have one big hive than two little ones, or in my case for the ones I split - 4 big hives instead of 8 little ones.
If I just wait until I have a laying queen in each of the parts before combining them the flow will be over.
I have been using Mr. Bush's "Bee Math" to estimate emergence and mating. The thing I am unclear of is if the timing and dynamics of reuniting a box with a queen that has not started laying with a box with a queen that has. There should be only one queen in each box after a given amount of time for emergence and mating. Yet my understanding is it can be two weeks or more before a queen starts laying. So what will happen on a combine of mated but not laying and a laying queen. Will one or the other depart with half my bees, or will they stay and fight? Adrian.