Post-Swarm measures, splitting?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Default Post-Swarm measures, splitting?

    Good day!

    Part of my hive has swarmed today. Not too many bees left though. One of my acquaintances a commercial beekeeper helped me to do the following:
    1. Go through the hive frame by frame and find frames with capped queen cells
    2. Found 3 queen cells and split the colony into 3; The main hive left with 2 bodies of brood and honey with an extra body (new frames) on top, 2 more hives of 1 body with brood/honey frames mixed;

    Is this a good strategy? I was thinking that trying to keep one single family as strong as possible would be a better idea if I want to harvest some honey this year. But my friend said that there is very little chance of making these bees stay together and work.

    I don't like this approach for (a) I do not need 2 more families. (b) my main hive is not likely to have enough workers to produce enough extra honey.


    What are my alternatives?

    Thanks

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Post-Swarm measures, splitting?

    I would go through the hive and find all the queen cells and reduce the number to two, or at most three, queens cells. Choose nice large fat ones, on one or two frames. Do this in the next couple of days, absolutely no later than the end of the weekend.

    There is no reason to make more colonies than you want to care for. The bees left behind, providing they don't have a lot of queens hatching and causing them to keep swarming should do just fine. Reducing the developing queen cells to just two will do the trick. There is no reason the bees left behind will not work together just fine, even if they don't make a lot of honey this summer because they have swarmed.

    Protection of their potential honey crop (among other things) is why people go to so much effort to prevent swarming.

    Enj.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Post-Swarm measures, splitting?

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    I would go through the hive and find all the queen cells and reduce the number to two, or at most three, queens cells. Choose nice large fat ones, on one or two frames. Do this in the next couple of days, absolutely no later than the end of the weekend.
    Thank you for responding.

    I have 1 emergency cell (upper middle section of the frame) and 2 swarming cells (bottom closer ot the side) on different frames. What we did is to put those 2 swarms cell frames into two diffeent "new hives" along with a couple of frames with brood and honey.

    My quesitons are:

    - since I do not need any more colonies, should I put them all back into the main hive?
    - How do I control which (and when) the new queen hatches? Or should I control that?
    - Won't they swarm again if I put back swarm cells?
    - When is it too late to put them all back together? I mean, when will they consider themselves separate colonies?

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Post-Swarm measures, splitting?

    Yes, you could put them back together again before the cells hatch. But don't waste any more time.

    Hatching will happen about 8.5 days after cell was capped, which may have occurred before the swarm departed. There's nothing you can do about that, and nothing you need to do.

    Swarm cells, emergency cells, supercedure cells are identical - they are all queen cells. Swarm cells don't cause swarms, they happen as a result of a swarm. But having too many of them will result in secondary swarms which will further deplete your hive population.

    Don't get hung up on the differing names (or placement) of the cells - all the ones you saw are swarm cells because they were made as part of the swarm. Placement is only one clue as to what is happening.

    They will consider themselves separate colonies when they have a queen emerged. If you look in the splits and if any of the queen cells are open - they likely have a queen, even if you can't spot her.

    Since it's been a couple of days they may feel a bit antsy, but if you really don't want more colonies then I would try a combine, set the boxes on top of each other on one stand and let them work it out. If you want to make it a bit easier on them stick a sheet of newspaper between them with a couple of slashes cut in it (just slashes, no holes). This is called a newspaper combine and it is useful technique to know about. They will sort themselves out. After you do this stay out of the hive for two weeks, then check for eggs/larvae. Congratulations, you'll likely have got a new queen!

    Although three cells is one too many for "conventional" good practice, because you will have manipulated the frames more than normal making the split and, now checking on them to see if they are still combine-able (no open queen cells, etc.) there's the risk that one or more cells has been slightly damaged so i wouldn't cut any of those three off. Let the bees - and the queens - work it out. Although two cells is the usual recommendation I often leave three with no bad results. Leaving five, six or a dozen or more, however, is much more likely to lead to more swarms. Culling queens cells simply means using your hive tool to scrape the whole cell off and removing it from the hive. Not a pleasant thing to do, IMO. But a necessary one.

    Enj.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Default Re: Post-Swarm measures, splitting?

    Thank you for your recommendations.

    I did put one of them on top of the main give. They didn't seem to mind at all.
    The second one i didn't do anything to yet because I am still in doubt. Some say, that they will swarm again if I put them back together? Is this likely?

    Thanks.

    What if the queen emerges?

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