snelgrove board qs again
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  1. #1
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    Default snelgrove board qs again

    Quick question. I have used SB in the past with good success in terms of getting a new mated queen in the top box.
    Im curious what to do if you find queen cells before you separate the colony. In other words lets say i go out to do my spring inspection and find capped/uncapped but with larvae queen cells in the bottom box...ie they are getting ready to swarm.
    Do i remove the frames with the queen cells and put em in the queen castle to start off a new nuc? or do i put them above the SB in the top box with the brood frames?

    Thanks in advance.
    Aran

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: snelgrove board qs again

    aran: I think that crofter (Frank) and enjambres (Nancy) are the BS resident experts on snelgrove boards, so hopefully they will chime in. L. E. Snelgrove wrote about splitting with queen cells already formed in Method II of his book. However, you will poke your eyes out and burn your Snelgrove book trying to follow him. A MUCH better summation (and adaptation) of Snelgrove's Method II is Wally Shaw's paper that I am linking below. I seem to remember Nancy saying that she has had great success with Method II (sorry if I am misquoting you Nancy). In any event, I have not tried Method II, but am very interested in your experience if you attempt it. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

    http://www.wbka.com/wp-content/uploa...Wally-Shaw.pdf

  4. #3
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    Default Re: snelgrove board qs again

    ill take a read thanks mate.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: snelgrove board qs again

    My answer is it depends on how many splits you want or do you want to maximize your honey crop. If you want increase and you have cells, divide your bees among them and catch your queen and put her with three frames of brood to build a new colony for next year.

    If you want honey production, move all your wet brood and the best two cells on the same side of the same frame above the board and kill the rest. Have your queen and the capped brood and added empty combs below the board. If this is a monster hive, I would put an excluder over the bottom box and put on a super underneath the board.

    When your queen starts laying in the top box, move the excluder to the top and add your super/s on top. take out the division and let the new queen supercede the old one in the bottom.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: snelgrove board qs again

    i have a few overwintered nucs to put into 10 F equipment and will probably make most of my splits off them.
    The 3 larger hives i was going to try and have produce honey so will use the SBs on them like i did last year. They are def large hives and last year it was a real challenge to find the queens.
    May have to try a shaker box perhaps.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: snelgrove board qs again

    Answer depends on whether you find those charged cells during swarm season.

    If yes, then the procedure for using a snelgrove board is COMPLETELY different than when you;re just making increase.

    google: the many uses of a snelgrove board, welsh beekeeper's assoc. You want the technique described last ion the document

    Bad computer issues today. will answer mpore another day.

    N

  8. #7
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    Default Re: snelgrove board qs again

    This is not the Welch Beekeepers, but it is from the UK http://barnsleybeekeepers.org.uk/snelgrove.html

  9. #8
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    Default Re: snelgrove board qs again

    just read the whole wbka article-> phew ...had to re-read and re-read to get the ideas in my head.
    -> still not 100% sure that i have the whole what to do with queen cells thing.

    Guess ill just keep doing weekly inspections starting early April and try and just follow the pre-emptive artificial swarm idea with the SB.
    If i find capped qcs then i suppose ill put that frame into a queen castle perhaps and go from there.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: snelgrove board qs again

    Quote Originally Posted by aran View Post
    Quick question. I have used SB in the past with good success in terms of getting a new mated queen in the top box.
    Im curious what to do if you find queen cells before you separate the colony. In other words lets say i go out to do my spring inspection and find capped/uncapped but with larvae queen cells in the bottom box...ie they are getting ready to swarm.
    Do i remove the frames with the queen cells and put em in the queen castle to start off a new nuc? or do i put them above the SB in the top box with the brood frames?

    Thanks in advance.
    Aran
    I only did that method of moving the queen and all the brood and capped cells above the board. It was an unplanned near dark happening and only once so dont read too much into my experience. Anyways, the cells got torn down and the queen went back to laying and the bottom box raised a new queen and did not swarm. This swarm preps were after a long rainy period and carniolan bees, so not the usual swarm preps scenario. I usually split them with the division board before I have cells started so this caught me by surprise.

    I cant remember at the moment Snelgroves reasoning of why it works. Enjambres will be back with more explanation as she has often used that method to quench swarming when preparations are well advanced when discovered.
    Frank

  11. #10
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    Default Re: snelgrove board qs again

    Quote Originally Posted by aran View Post
    i have a few overwintered nucs to put into 10 F equipment and will probably make most of my splits off them.
    The 3 larger hives i was going to try and have produce honey so will use the SBs on them like i did last year. They are def large hives and last year it was a real challenge to find the queens.
    May have to try a shaker box perhaps.
    I dont even try to find the queens anymore when I am setting up the division boards. I just shake off most of the bees into what will be the lower box and the queen is the first to dislodge. The nurse bees hang on for dear life because they have not tested their wings yet! You only have to shake off the frames that will be going into the box above the queen excluder. I only use the shaker box when I actually want the queen in hand like when wanting to be 100% sure it is the new young queen taking over rather than just pulling the division board and assuming that the younger queen will be the winner.

    Whether you shake or not will depend on whether you want queens from already capped cells or are mainly interested in heading off a swarm. Whether or not you raise new queens from the exercise is optional.
    Frank

  12. #11
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    Default Re: snelgrove board qs again

    OK, Computer squared away, now. (whew!)

    This is the reference material I use most often: http://www.wbka.com/wp-content/uploa...Wally-Shaw.pdf It goes far beyond the Barnsley Beekeepers document

    Anyway, I want to answer the OP's question about what to do when you find charged queen cells on inspection and want to forestall a swarm.

    First of all, you have to know whether they already have swarmed. If not, then you're in time, but maybe just barely so time may of the essence. Don't put this off until a more-convenient time.

    In a "regular" Snelgrove usage, it's a one step-process in which you leave the queen downstairs and (in a general way) put the doings for the bees to make themselves a new queen upstairs and then leave them alone to get on with it. Which in my experience they usually do quite well. It's not terribly critical as far as which,, and how many frames go where sense, beyond the basics of "queen down" and "frame(s) with eggs or or very young larvae up", along with sufficient bees and food and pollen resources in each part to carry on. And if you screw up the divvying up of the age-classes of the bees, the little doors allow to you easily move foraging and oriented bees between the sections to get it all sorted out.

    But when you are faced with a colony that has already decided to swarm (or else they wouldn't have charged queen cells in place), the Snelgrove board is used for different purpose. And that is to significantly interfere with their plans.

    The hive won't swarm unless they have things in the hive arranged so that the colony left behind has a good chance of surviving (swarming is a form of whole-colony reproduction, albeit a non-sexual one.) And a prime swarm, by definition, means the existing queen leaves taking with her a good whack of the colony's younger bees.

    So the imminent-swarm usage of a Snelgrove board has to separate the queen from the resources she needs to carry out the swarm. It's an attempt to severely alter the distribution (between the two sections) of young and old bees, and thoroughly interrupt the sequence of maturing brood.

    You need to read the instructions in the document linked above, Part III is what you want if you already have queen cells.

    But in brief, the bottom box is stocked with empty drawn combs (with some stores as a back up), not with foundation, and two specially-chosen frames (with their attendant nurse bees) that have the proper-aged resources to make a new queen, i.e. eggs and very young larvae. And this is most important thing: Make sure the queen is not on either of these two frames. No need to find her among all the bees the whole hive, just make sure she is not on these two frame. I just look these two frames over very, very carefully, particularly if I have not seen - and temporarily isolated the queen in a nuc box.

    (As a practical matter, if the weather is quite warm and well-settled, you could shake all the bees gently off of these two frames and install them above a queen excluder. Leave them for an hour or so and they will become covered with nurse bees, and not the queen. I almost never do this however, because of the risk the colony might truly be on the verge of swarming and that even an hour might make the difference between keeping them at home, or losing them. I do swarm checks with Snelgrove board stacked on my work cart, and if I find that I have failed to head off a swarm and they've made queen cells, I immediately deploy the SB.)

    Anyway, the bottom part has the two queenless, but well-supplied with eggs and young larvae frames; lots of empty drawn combs, and all the oriented bees which will be returning through their familiar entrance points. This part should also be well supplied with supers as the bees will have little else to do, and there is often a good flow on during swarm periods.

    Meanwhile, upstairs there are all the other brood frames, both capped and open, all thoroughly examined and relieved of any queen cells you can find; herself, the queen (though you needn't try to go to the trouble of finding her at this point); several empty drawn brood frames; and a liberal supply of nectar, honey and pollen frames since it will shortly become forager-free as those bees will go downstairs. Depending on the weather, and the number of brood frames I sometimes even have a two deep boxes, at the outset.

    What's going on here is this: the bottom section, finding themselves queenless will make emergency cells, The foragers and the younger oriented bees from both sections will usually end up here by the end of the day. If there is flow they may do very well gathering it.

    In the upper section there is the queen, but she will be without the huge number of younger number of bees she needs to go swarming off with. There are far fewer young oriented bees in the upper section (if they are oriented they've flown out and returned downstairs) and the remaining bees are all needed to tend the brood frames. The queen finding herself suddenly in possession of a lots of empty drawn comb real estate gets back in the egg-laying business, again.

    At this point, you may think you needn't do anything more, just like when making a simple division, but you are wrong in this special instance. If you simply left things alone the queen and her colony may simply build back up to the critical mass needed for swarming. And then you'd have a late swarm, which is even more of a problem than a May/June swarm. So there are two more things you need to do: first, bleed off some of the original bunch of nurse bees that were transferred upstairs, using the paired doors. You do this about day 4 or 5.

    And then, and this is the most the most time-critical and important part: you've got to move the queen back downstairs again. You do this on day 7 through 8 (preferred time period) and not later than day 10 after the Snelgrove was deployed. Of course, this means you have to find her, but she will be easier to see in the by-then much-smaller colony and not so runny like she probably was just before a swarm. So you take the frame you find her on, plus one other frame of mixed-age brood (the characteristics of the second frame aren't terribly critical, so don't stress) and stick them temporarily in a nuc box.

    Then you lift off the box(es) above the Snelgrove board, and the Snelgrove board itself. Find the two frames of brood that you put down below at the start and move them to the top box. If you have too many queen cells, I would reduce them to a smaller number. (It you have notched the frame a la OTS splitting you may have dozens of cells, which is why I generally don't notch in this instance. With notching, you can get a huge number of cells because the section is so overstocked with bees, like a cell-builder might be. At this time of year it's usually easy to find a frame with eggs and young larvae, so)

    After moving the two frames to the upper box, take the queen and her frames out of the nuc and place them in the lower box in the middle. Install the Snelgrove board, again and plunk the upper section's box(es) back down on it.

    Now, finally after more than a week, the swarm emergency is over and you're done! The queen, back in her old lair on the bottom should should settle down and get busy laying in all of that empty drawn brood comb. For a several weeks the colony will not have either the sequential capped brood resources, nor the requisite number of younger bees to make a swarm successful, so it will most likely just decide to give it a pass for the year. Upstairs, the bees with the capped queen cells which were moved up on the frames from below should carry on to select and a get a likely candidate out and mated.

    This is jut the Cliff's Notes version of what Wally Shaw recommends, so please read what he wrote (Part 3 is the section dealing with interrupting an imminent swarm, you want the Snelgrove II - Modified version, which is what I am basing my abbreviated description here on.) I keep a laminated copy of the whole document on my bee cart during swarm season so I can refer to it without having to back to the house and hunt it up on the computer. I found Shaw far easier to wrap my head around than Snelgrove's own writings.

    If you have still have questions, fire away. This is not hard to do, but it also is pretty demanding to get each detail - and the timing - exactly right. Since you are fighting the innate biology of the bees, this is not the right place for doing it in a half-hearted way. Do it right, or don't attempt it, for it will most likely not be successful and you will lose you one-and-only shot at keeping the bees.

    Nancy

  13. #12
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    Default Re: snelgrove board qs again

    i have 1 question:
    So the two frames of brood into bottom box in step one makes sense and the queen and the rest of the hive above with remaining brood i understand.
    Where then is the room in the top box for the:" several empty drawn brood frames; and a liberal supply of nectar, honey and pollen frames"
    -> if only two frames were removed initially to put into the bottom box does this mean i also have to remove other brood frames out into nucs ( with the queen cells) in order to have room to put in empty comb/nectar,pollen and honey frames? ( presumably there would be some food resources in the box already but would only be two empty slots for empty built comb frames).


    Perhaps that is what you meant by "relieved of any queen cells"==> does this indicate that those frames are removed out into nucs with empty built comb frames being put back in their place?

    Thansk again for the help i dont want to screw this up.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: snelgrove board qs again

    Aron
    I am not nearly as smart as nancy and I am sure she will correct me if I tell you wrong. You add a box to put those two frames in and use extra comb (if you have it for some more frames to fill the box with the two frames.

    The bees here are going to start queen cells. If you are in a flow, you add some more supers on top of the box with the two frames so all the foragers there can store what is coming in cause they don't have a lot of brood to take care of cause they have no queen, they have to make one. You then put a double screen board on the box and supers and set the whole rest of the hive on top of that board. You destroy all the queen cell up there cause if you didn't the virgins would hatch and kill you queen or they may even still swarm. The bottom with the two frames is making more queens.

    In 8 to ten days, those queens in the bottom will be capped and so you trade them with the queen from the hive sitting on top of the board. Two or three weeks later but after you know the virgins are mated, you can move the top hive any where you want and most of the foragers from it will strengthen the bottom part with the queen in it even more then it was.
    If you wanted to make splits with brood frames from your other hives, you can use some of the extra queen cells that are on those two frames from the bottom that you are trading back for the queen that was in the top.
    Clear as mud, right.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

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    Default Re: snelgrove board qs again

    aran: My only disagreement with Nancy's post is the need to read Wally Shaw's summary of Method II again. Nancy covers it better than Wally does. I have clipped Nancy's post and put it in my Snelgrove folder on Dropbox. Thanks Nancy.

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    Default Re: snelgrove board qs again

    psm
    aran: My only disagreement with Nancy's post is the need to read Wally Shaw's summary of Method II again. Nancy covers it better than Wally does. I have clipped Nancy's post and put it in my Snelgrove folder on Dropbox. Thanks Nancy.

    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  17. #16
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    Default Re: snelgrove board qs again

    GWW is absolutely correct - you add a box to the stack when doing this, it's not simply a division of what was there beforehand. This will require enough additional drawn frames - not foundation - to fill up the newly enlarged stack, as well. You can get away with using a frame or two of just foundation in the outer positions if you are really short.

    But you need mostly drawn empty comb in the lower box for when the newly back-in-lay queen is put back down there. You need a modest amount of stores below to cover any bad weather during the first week because you want the new queen to be well-fed, as well as the larvae on those two frames.

    Upstairs you want a good amount of stores because that part will shortly be losing all of its foragers for the duration, and there may be a lot of open brood that needs food. You also need empty drawn comb (a couple of frames, at least) upstairs because you want the bees and the queen to feel like they've got space to start more brood, as opposed to simply feeling crowded.

    In my post I was focused on just the rough mechanics, and the why-does-it-work aspect. That's why I urged you to read the link I posted because that's where you would see details such as that the first step after you've got the hive apart is to place an empty box - with mostly drawn frames - on the base. I have found that adding a frame or two of stores to the lower box works well in my on-again/off-again upstate NY climate as insurance against that weather that's too-cold for the foragers to get fresh supplies for the uncapped brood on the frames they will be making queen cells in. And because this manipulation is done on an emergency basis, I sometimes can't pick a day with nice settled period afterward. I also think that leaving bees - especially a whole lot 'o bees - with a completely bare pantry can make them cranky. I value a quiet, unstressed yard, so I make sure they've got a nice meal or two to get them started on.

    When I first used the Snelgrove board, I distilled the instructions down to a flow chart/checklist that I could use in the field. You may find that useful, too.

    "Relieved of any queen cells" means you cut them off, or out, after a pretty thorough search. Shaw (and Snelgrove) describe culling only the mature ones. I figure I may miss some queen cups, but I remove every one that's definitely a queen cell, capped or not. If you have a lot to deal of them, and wanted to use a few of the cells for other purposes rather than cull them, that's OK too. But I would not start making up a lot of nucs with these frames and moving them around. At least some of those are likely to become cast swarms.

    If your primary goal is to stop a late-stage swarm in its tracks (as opposed to making multiple splits) then at this point I would just focus on that. If you want to bust a hive down into nucs either get that done before they get swarmy, or do it later after they've settled back down. But in the context of a well-developed swarm plan, put your effort into stopping it.

    Also, of course, if you don't want even one additional colony you can recombine the two parts again, later. The safest way is to kill one of the queens and then do a newspaper combine. But you can get away with culling the new queen cell at the very last minute, or even as a virgin, and then let the upper section languish - as long as you dare - in a queenless state before combining them. You want the most amount of time you can risk to elapse before you add them back together so as to make sure that the reunited colony really has got over its desire to swarm. You don't usually get laying worker problems for 2 to 3 weeks after the last brood hatches, so you could have as long as a month. But it bears close watching before, and after, a recombine to make sure what you want to happen is what's actually happening.

    Although this method works I regard it as an emergency-fix, not as the first-line way to prevent swarms. That I accomplish with a lot of attention to discouraging them from starting the swarm preps in the first place. I start as early as the first time I go into the hive after winter. I reverse and checkerboard and, later on, open the sides of the brood nest, etc., from April through May.

    Happy to answer any more questions as this is a process that works very well when done exactly as described, and not so much when you cut corners. It's a fair bit of work, and often at an inconvenient moment not of your choosing, to deploy the SB to stop a swarm. From my point of view if you're going to all this effort then invest your time in something that is likely to get the results you want. When people tell me they've used a SB and failed to stop a swarm it has invariably been a situation where they figured that some step or detail "didn't really matter", so they skipped it. After you've done this a few times and if you see ways that might improve things and are willing to risk failure, then try those options.

    Nancy

  18. #17
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    Default Re: snelgrove board qs again

    Nancy
    Yes, drawn comb is always my problim and until something dies or I have a good productive year that gives a few extra supers of comb, I can not follow the rules religiously. I am glad somebody can communicate the rules as simply as you do though. Simple english for a simple guy.
    Thanks
    gww
    zone 5b

  19. #18
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    Default Re: snelgrove board qs again

    Gosh, all my typos and run-on sentences enshrined in your drop box! If I have time in the next month I will try to make a cleaner, easier to follow, version. Feel free to save that.

    Nancy

  20. #19
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    Default Re: snelgrove board qs again

    thanks a bunch Nancy. I have a ton of spare supers with empty built comb so i should be ok to pull this off. Im also in upstate NY ( Rochester and i have a new property in Skaneateles im planning on putting bees at this year too).
    ->planning on post winter inspections as soon as its closer to 50deg. Hoping that will be late March early april. Weekly inspections and start the SB method 1 pre-emptively when?

  21. #20
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    Default Re: snelgrove board qs again

    aran
    If you are using the board to pre-empt before the bees decide on thier own they want to swarm, you would probly use it differrent (and easier) then what Nancy posted for after you see queen cells. I am very new and so take it with a grain of salt, but if you are going to do a pre-emptive split, you want to see drones in the hive. I am guessing that will be somewhere around two weeks into the first dandilion bloom. This is what I would look for with my knowlage so far for my area. Even that early drones would need to be seen in the hives.
    I am new.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

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