Swarm Newbie - At Critical Stage w/ Queen Piping: What do I do??
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  1. #1
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    Exclamation Swarm Newbie - At Critical Stage w/ Queen Piping: What do I do??

    Hi guys, first time poster... Have gone and done as much reading as I can here, but given the time senstive nature of things, I think a personalized answer is the only thing that's going to do the trick here. I've tried to read over the rules, but I am flipping out!

    BLUF: I have a hive that I think is preparing to swarm. The first of four or five queen cells have hatched, and the virgin queen is wandering around the hive piping. I have no idea what to do.

    OK. What the heck to I do?

    This hive swarmed last week... the first swarm of this hive, to my knowledge. Ideally, I don't want them to swarm, and I just want to continue to rear this hive at full strength... I do however have an empty box with some wax frames (and some old honey) prepared that I could use to found a second hive. I built up a bottom board and lid for it last week in a panic when they were swarming. Unfortunately, when they swarmed last week, they did so *way* out of reach, and there was nothing I could do to recover them. I have no queen pheremone to attract them to my empty box, an the branch they swarmed to was far too high to get at. I'm afraid they might do that again.

    What's my best course of action?

    Throw into the mix that I would like to *make* some queen pheremone to help with swarm season in the future, which I understand you can do by smooshing up virgin queens and soaking them in alcohol. I think that sounds like a neat trick, and maybe now is the time to do that, if it aligns with my goals in managing these hives.

    Thanks guys,

    -R

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    Bloomington, IN, USA
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    Default Re: Swarm Newbie - At Critical Stage w/ Queen Piping: What do I do??

    If the hive swarmed last week this may be the queen they've been waiting for.
    " New queens are raised and the hive may swarm as soon as the queen cells are capped and before the new virgin queens emerge from their queen cells." good old wikepedia
    It looks like they are on track but I'm sure others will pipe in
    DsBs.Etsy.com

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Swarm Newbie - At Critical Stage w/ Queen Piping: What do I do??

    I have read something to the effect that the piping is an indicator that another swarm is coming. Is that true? Is there anything I can do to prevent it? (Or should I?)

    What should be done about these other cells? Am I expecting the first queen to go sting the others to death? Or if they emerge, what is likely to happen?

    Edit:
    I have also seen recommendations to the effect that in order to prevent swarming, I can go ahead and move the frame with the unopened queen cells into another hive box and presto! New hive. I would be concerned however that the workers I move to my empty box might return to their old box. Also, if the queen from my original box had intended to swarm, might she do so anyway, even if I had eliminated her competition?

    Edit Again:
    Something else that colors the situation is that all the queen cells I'm talking about are supersedure type cells. They definitely swarmed last week, but the cell types don't indicate that.

    -R
    Last edited by ryansturmer; 05-27-2013 at 10:49 AM.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Swarm Newbie - At Critical Stage w/ Queen Piping: What do I do??

    Quote Originally Posted by ryansturmer View Post
    -snip-I can go ahead and move the frame with the unopened queen cells into another hive box and presto! New hive. I would be concerned however that the workers I move to my empty box might return to their old box. Also, if the queen from my original box had intended to swarm, might she do so anyway, even if I had eliminated her competition?

    -R
    Yes, you can split the hive now. Leave only the two best cells on the frame for the new hive, destroy the others. The nurse bees will stay and the foragers will go back home (that's okay if the new colony has some stores in reserve -like a frame of honey and some pollen). If there are no more queen cells in the original hive, they won't swarm until they make more -hopefully, they will decide not to swarm by that time. The bees decide to swarm, not the queen. HTH
    ...We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are...

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Swarm Newbie - At Critical Stage w/ Queen Piping: What do I do??

    So most of the queen cells in the old hive are on a single frame, and that's the frame where the queen seems to be spending most of her time. Should I pluck her off there and stick her on another frame? And when I move the frame, how many other frames should I take with it? I have a whole extra super with honey and pollen, but I expect I probably want to take a brood frame or two from the old hive (including some drones?) Is it correct that I should leave *no* queen cells in the old hive?

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Swarm Newbie - At Critical Stage w/ Queen Piping: What do I do??

    It is important to know where your queen is and make her location your choice. The more frames you start a hive with the faster they will get to full speed. Of course, the more frames you take, the slower the donor hive will get back to full speed.

    Choose according to your own priorities, there isn't much right or wrong about it. I would leave the queen in the old hive, then take the frame with the cells on it and destroy all but the two best ones. Take care not to disturb the two remaining cells by rough handling. Then, add a frame with honey and pollen with another frame of brood. Then, check the location of the queen again to be sure. Reduce the entrance of both colonies (I like to use hardware cloth so they will still have enough air).
    ...We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are...

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Swarm Newbie - At Critical Stage w/ Queen Piping: What do I do??

    Going to try this today if they haven't swarmed. As of last night, there were two queens out and wandering around. One of them was piping, the other was hanging out above the top-board of the hive (maybe kicked out by her sister?)

    I guess the queen that's piping is probably the one I want to keep. There are still several unhatched (as of last night)

    We'll see how this goes!

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Swarm Newbie - At Critical Stage w/ Queen Piping: What do I do??

    FWIW:

    I reopened the hive today. No swarm, and no more queens have hatched. Moved a frame with two healthy looking queen cells into an empty box. Moved another frame full of brood, and yet another with drone brood, and another with honey and pollen. Had a super from last season with a bunch of honey and pollen, so I gave them that too. Gonna put a feeder jar on tomorrow when I refill the other two hive's jars. Maybe a pollen patty too, though they don't seem to need it. They have, maybe a whole side of one frame full of drone brood cells, and maybe a side and a half of worker brood. Cross your fingers, everyone!

    -R

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