Late summer swarm management
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  1. #1
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    Default Late summer swarm management

    I have a bee hive that looks like it's about to swarm. It has one deep body and three supers. I found swarm cells on the next super over the brood box. One is capped. It is late August and I'm worried about splitting at this point because I don't believe the hives will recover enough before winter. Someone suggested I do a Taranov split to stop the swarm then recombine the hive before winter. There is some young larvae, some capped brood, lots of drone brood and minimal stores. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Late summer swarm management

    >I found swarm cells on the next super over the brood box.

    Shortly after the first q cells are capped the hive will swarm. With q cells of different ages there is a good chance your hive will have after swarms.

    > It is late August and I'm worried about splitting at this point because I don't believe the hives will recover enough before winter.

    It's not about making splits as much as saving your original queen and several pounds of bees. Make a cut down split if it's not too late. Let the original hive try to make a new queen, if they fail recombine the cutdown split back to the hive. You can also continued removing all the q cells in the original hive, making them hopelessly queenless then recombine the cutdown split back (make sure your cutdown has the queen and she is laying; sometimes swarms can't be stopped even with a cutdown).

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Late summer swarm management

    This is the toughest time of the year in the north if I find a hive that I think has swarmed I break the hive into as many hives I can with the cells I find then I will combine the failures with the ones that succeed in making their queens.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Late summer swarm management

    Where in Maine are you? One deep is not a usual configuration for Maine - though singles have been known to overwinter. What's your experience?

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Late summer swarm management

    I'm from vt and having a similar issue. I have been taking frames of capped brood and moving them to a weaker hive and replacing them with empty combs. Not sure how effective it is but no swarms yet.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Late summer swarm management

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Dewey View Post
    Where in Maine are you? One deep is not a usual configuration for Maine - though singles have been known to overwinter. What's your experience?
    I presume the original poster means a deep and three mediums...not necessarily supers above a queen excluder. I've actually got a couple hives I'm taking into winter with one bottom deep and one medium above. That's how the boxes went together this spring, and I think it should be fine. If it turns out to be a problem, next year I'll do two mediums over the deep. It does handicap me a bit when I want to move queen cells or brood around, but I have one deep nuc and two mediums, so it creates flexibility when I want to take a nuc up to full size.

    Original: if I were you, I'd pull the queen and 5-10 frames onto new hive setup and watch what happens with the queen cells in the old location. You can always recombine in 3 weeks if the hatch falls flat on its face. Feed the queen right colony in the meantime, and you may end up with a good split.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Late summer swarm management

    I do what FlowerPlanter said. Put the queen and four frames of bees into a nuc and let the rest make a new queen. (make sure you have no cells in the nuc)

    It weakens the main colony enough to where it won't swarm and then you either get a second mated queen or re-combine later after it's obvious they failed. So far have not had to do the re-combining part tho. Now having said this I have had the queenless part make a new queen that laid the whole thing full and they still swarmed but about 3-4 weeks later. (Lucky me) Probably won't happen in Maine tho.

    Could even treat the queenless broodless colony with OAD or OAV when it's right.
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Late summer swarm management

    Quote Originally Posted by Original Cookie View Post
    There is some young larvae, some capped brood, lots of drone brood and minimal stores. Does anyone have any suggestions?
    Does this really sound like swarming conditions? Could it be possible that they are simply superceding the queen? Just something to think about before tearing the hive apart.
    To everything there is a season....

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Late summer swarm management

    What Mike says rings true with me. But we need more information. And with minimal stores you're going to be heavily feeding. I'm about 3 weeks away from the first killing frost (and the end of nectar foraging) - we don't know where you are within the state but at most you have about three weeks beyond that. I would for sure not do a walk away type split and if you find you need to do a split plan on buying a mated queen. GZB is as far South as you can get in the state - is six weeks about right until first frost for you?

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Late summer swarm management

    I've been away all day so just reading all the answers. Thank you to everyone. I live in Woolwich Maine a little north from GZB. The bottom is a deep hive body with three mediums on top. I wondered about the cells being supersedure but guessed it was swarm due to the fact that it is on the bottom of a medium frame and there are about 3 or 4 of them. The deep has very little in the cells and honey stores are really minimal. There are a huge amount of bees in there and they're a bit testy. I have had a queen excluder on the front entrance and stil see bees going in and out with pollen. I took the hive down again yesterday but couldn't find the queen. I did see some very small larvae. I have some pictures of the queen cells but don't know how to post them. They are on one frame. One is capped and the others have larvae in them. I like the idea of a cut down split or getting the queen into a nuc but I'm really having difficulty finding her, So far they haven't swarmed and that may be because of the entrance queen excluder. I work out of town and am off on Saturday so I'm really hoping they won't do anything before I can get to them but the problem is finding the queen,

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Late summer swarm management

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Gillmore View Post
    Does this really sound like swarming conditions? Could it be possible that they are simply superceding the queen? Just something to think about before tearing the hive apart.
    Mike, what would swarming conditions be? I'm wondering if you might be right.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Late summer swarm management

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Dewey View Post
    What Mike says rings true with me. But we need more information. And with minimal stores you're going to be heavily feeding. I'm about 3 weeks away from the first killing frost (and the end of nectar foraging) - we don't know where you are within the state but at most you have about three weeks beyond that. I would for sure not do a walk away type split and if you find you need to do a split plan on buying a mated queen. GZB is as far South as you can get in the state - is six weeks about right until first frost for you?
    Should I be heavily feeding now? And are we talking about 2:1 syrup and pollen patties? If they were thinking of swarming would that make matters better or worse?

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Late summer swarm management

    There are two basic types of swarms - 1 is in response to congestion and the 2nd is "we feel like reproducing." There ought to be plenty of pollen available now. If you think the issue is congestion, a split may be in order. You'll need to feed heavily - and at this time of year 2:1 is called for (less for the bees to evaporate) - You might try moving the deep to the top. Are the three mediums part of the brood chamber? The only queen excluder is over the entrance? Is your inner cover notched and the outer cover positioned to allow ventilation through it? If you want to talk this over with someone, there are a bunch of clubs and Master Beekeepers in Southern Maine. You'll find contact information on mainebeekeepers.org.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Late summer swarm management

    Original:

    This time of year what I would expect to see in the hive if they were planning to swarm due to congestion would be a hive packed with bees, frames throughout filled with honey and pollen, and very little room for the queen to be laying in. You describe your deep as having "very little in the cells and honey stores are minimal". This is pretty much the opposite of what I would expect to see if they were planning to swarm right now.

    One frame with just 3-4 queen cells sounds more like supercedure or emergency cells rather than swarm cells. I know they are on the bottom of the frame but that may just be where eggs or young larvae at the correct age happened to be at the time.

    Prior to finding the queen cells, when did you do your last hive inspection? I wonder if the queen may have been accidently injured or killed during an inspection, and they are replacing her. You are not able to find her now, that may be why. Just some thoughts.

    I'm not sure what the queen excluder on the entrance is, maybe your could explain further.
    To everything there is a season....

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Late summer swarm management

    I'm actually going to a bee club meeting tomorrow and will ask. The first medium up is part of the brood chamber. I'm thinking I may put a queen excluder between boxes after smoking heavily then later look to see if I can find her in the bottom box. If they are swarming or supersceeding either way I'm thinking of removing the queen and any cells I find, putting in a new mated queen if there is one available, and getting rid of the queen cells. Then feeding pollen and 2:1 heavily to build up. I don't see queen cells any where else except that one frame and then only about three so I'm leaning toward supersceeding. Hope this will work. The inner cover is notched.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Late summer swarm management

    Someone advised me to do that in case they were planning to swarm. I'm thinking you may be right and I'm going to remove it. I will probably go back in tomorrow (my next day off) and try to find the queen if she is there. My last inspection was several weeks ago and There were eggs then. There were young larvae in there a few days ago, couldn't see eggs, and minimal stores and not a lot of brood. There were a lot of bees, fairly testy. I have access to a newly mated queen so I'm thinking I will try to requeen the hive. The challenge is finding the old one if she is still there.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Late summer swarm management

    Quote Originally Posted by Original Cookie View Post
    Someone advised me to do that in case they were planning to swarm. I'm thinking you may be right and I'm going to remove it. I will probably go back in tomorrow (my next day off) and try to find the queen if she is there. My last inspection was several weeks ago and There were eggs then. There were young larvae in there a few days ago, couldn't see eggs, and minimal stores and not a lot of brood. There were a lot of bees, fairly testy. I have access to a newly mated queen so I'm thinking I will try to requeen the hive. The challenge is finding the old one if she is still there.
    Mike see my post just above this one. I was answering your questions

  19. #18
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    Default

    Reviving this thread bc I have a similar situation but a slightly different question.

    I had a hive that was doing great and so got swarmy so I split it once and moved a box to a hive with a new package to try and keep it from swarming. That seemed to work but it still was making queen cups and I think it swarmed anyway as I couldn't find the queen, less bees and no eggs but I found what looked like a virgin queen. So I waited and still no eggs so I combined it with the split I made which had a laying queen who was doing great using newspaper. Checked it 5 days later to see if they had chewed thru the paper and they sort of did but then I found 3 cc (capped) on the bottom of a frame.

    Thought it was a swarm cell so I split that frame and 2 brood frames into another hive. The queen was actually ON that frame too and looked fine.

    But after reading this, I'm thinking supersedure and not swarm cells. Even though the cells are on the bottom of the frame there were only 3 of them (spaced apart)...and so this thread sounds like that is supersedure not swarm.

    BUT I already split them up. SO my question is:

    Leave it or disturb them again and recombine it back? I just did the split today...The qc were not quite capped but had nice larvae in them. If it is supercedure why if the queen is laying fine w even brood patterns (not that it really matters...the bees know).

    My thought is that what is done is done so just leave it, rather than disrupt them yet again. Then I can see if the qc materialize and if not combine it then and see if the queenright hive does another supersedure attempt.

    Thoughts?

    Karen

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