Hello All, one of my TBH swarmed. I caught it and installed it into another hive body. My question is that the original colony has several more swarm cells and I want to prevent a secondary swarm. I do not have enough hives to make nucs. The colony is quite large. Can I split the remaining colony keeping 1-2 queen cells intact to create two new colonies or should I pinch out all but two swarm cells and hope that a secondary swarm will not take place? Our weather here in the PNW has been unseasonably warm. My bees are Carnies and they have built up fast and furious. In February one colony already had 8 frames of brood along with plenty of stores!
One of the first years we had bees we had a strong hive swarm itself to death. When they quit casting secondary swarms there were not enough bees left to support the hive. Since then I remove all but 2 cells. If your hive has already swarmed I would remove all but one queen cell. Splitting the hive will work too if you have at least one cell on two different frames. Remember honey production is keyed to the size of the colony. If you split in half you will not get as much honey as you would if you left the hive on the stronger side. New queens usually will not swarm. Splitting will double your chances of getting a mated queen. If one does not succeed in mating a queen just recombine them. I hope I have not confused you, but with bees it is not common to only have one option.
Thank You! Funny thing, as i got up from writing this I noticed the yard filled with bees - lots of them. I went out to see another swarm! I checked the newly captured swarm and they were still in the hive box. So I then checked the suspected swarming colony only to find the same amount of bees. I'm pretty sure this swarm is from somewhere else. Crazy bee season here in Bellevue!
I am now going out to inspect the suspected swarming colony and decide what to do. I would like more honey but I don't sell so honey production is not my top priority. Basically I'm just trying to keep enough colonies alive through the winter/wet Springs to get some honey for my own use - the past three years has been pretty rough. This year only two made it through. I did an artificial swarm on one because by February they had 8 frames of brood - including one bar of drones plus plenty of stores! Crazy year! So only one hive was viable for swarms - I went on a short vaca and while I was gone (Easter) I got the call. My son captured the swarm for me via FaceTime thankful for technology!
You advice is very helpful and let's me know I'm thinking in the right direction. Thank You!
I don't have a tbh, so unsure if this is practical. Can you place a follower board in the middle of a tbh, make another entrance at the other end, and create 2 hives out of each tbh you have (or even just the swarming hive) while another is constructed? Split the frames up to each half with Qn. cells in each? Worst case all the bees go back to the original side/entrance.
Thank you all for your thoughts and input. Today was CRAZY in my yard. I will respond to your questions and comments then I will tell you the incredible story of today.
Ruth - Yes, I have had bait hives for three years. Never caught a swarm in them even though I've followed every instruction to the tee. Although, I have never seen a swarm here for the 13 years I've lived here. Generally I perform artificial swarms on my hives - which I did with one of the two hives I currently have. That gave me three colonies, two which I new would not swarm and one of the original colonies, which I assumed swarmed on Easter. After today's experience though I'm not sure it was my colony that swarmed. All my hives are from Bee Thinking.
KGB - I should have been more specific about "resources". I have plenty of equipment but only two colonies - one which I recently performed an artificial swarm and one which I assumed swarmed. So I only had one colony to divide up which was not enough bees to create multiple nucs to make use of all the swarm cell queens. But, yes, you are correct about housing two colonies in one TBH which all of mine are set up to do. The one hive already was filling the entire TBH so I decided to just split it. Read about this experience below.
Like I said, today was crazy. I was in the yard from 10 to 6 dealing with bees (and I only have three hives.). So on Easter, while I was vacationing in Santa Barbara, I got a call from my son that there was a basket ball sized ball of bees in my bush. Because I hadn't gotten to an artificial swarm on this particular colony I assumed they had swarmed. I FaceTimed him through capturing the swarm. I returned home the following evening and while it was still pleasant outside I installed the swarm into a hive body. Next day everything was great and calm. This morning I had plans to inspect the colony that swarmed and possibly split it, hence the posted question. When I went to the sink to rinse my coffee cup I saw thousands of bees filling the air. I went out to investigate. They all started landing on my gutter, window sill, and BBQ on the deck. Another swarm. So again, I captured and installed it. I finally got to the original plan of inspecting the swarming hive when to my surprise, when I opened it up it was filled to the gills with bees. So I went through it and decided to split it leaving two swarm cells per split following Dave Burrup's suggestion on this thread. One was a lovely size and already iced. I did not find the old queen. She was on her third year so, because I am a natural beekeeper, I'll let the bees do what bees do. BUT, as I was getting the last stragglers of the morning swarm out of the bait hive again, the air filled with loud buzzing and I looked up to see my neighbors backyard filled with thousands of bees. I watched as they alighted in a bush. I rushed to the newly split colonies - all were present, just as plentiful as when I split them. Each of the two swarms I caught were all present as well. All I can think of is that, because we live on a greenbelt, the feral bees wintered through just as well as mine and it was they that were swarming. I bagged another basketball size swarm. So since Easter Sunday I have gone from three to SEVEN hives! Holy HoneyBees Batman!
Lydia, Where in Bellevue are you? I have lived in Bridal Trails for 20 years and have never seen a single swarm. I am sure at least one of mine has swarmed since starting beekeeping but I have never seen it. That is what I get for having a full time job that keeps me away from my hives all day. I have also had bait hives set up for the last three years but never caught anything. Congrats on getting the free bees!
I'm in the Somerset area. Since I got Carnies I've had to pre-empt swarming because they build up so darn fast. It's funny cause I could hardly get my Italians to get out of bed I'm not always here either. Just lucked out as I'm taking some time off this April. Keeping my eye out today for more Is that greedy?
No I am not that guy. There are a few of us in the area though. I have a huge family and I supply all of them as well as my co-workers. I have yet to sell to the general public and probably never will. I did bring some to a food bank last year. And, no, you are not being greedy. If the neighbors bees would fly my way, I would gladly give them a happy home, food, and medical benefits in trade for some honey!
Hi Lydia, as someone else mentioned I think... Get those bait hives out. You could get another 2-4 after swarms from the same colonies that have already swarmed into your yard. Looks like we have some amazing weather coming up this week. Regarding your original colony did you split it 2 ways? Sometimes they can be split 3 or 4 ways depending on how much worker brood and bees you have in there. sounds like you are having great fun.