Post swarms--trying to develop a plan
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Plumas County, California, USA
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    Default Post swarms--trying to develop a plan

    This is my second year. I have two hives that overwintered very well. Last time I checked (10-14 days ago) there was larvae and some eggs. The weather has been crazy so it's been difficult to open hives or manage them or makes splits. I checked yesterday and found no larvae, no eggs, and no queen, as far as I could tell. I guess the queen has been gone for about a week, which seems right.

    Two days ago one hive seemed to have had a failed swarm (or maybe some of the bees returned to the hive).

    A week ago the other hive swarmed and I caught it, and verified it has a queen--mated or virgin I don't know. The swarm is in a deep body with foundation.

    Here's my concern: There is lots of capped brood in both hives, lots of bees in both hives, though plenty of room (now) for a new queen to lay.

    One hive has around 6 supercedure or emergency cells. I'm going to wait for those to emerge. But I'm wondering if I could also use a frame with a supercedure cell to make a nuc split? Would that be wise?

    The other hive had a few swarm cells on the bottom of frames. I was going to make up a nuc. However, after re-inserting the frame, removing the hive body to look at the bottom deep (to verify any laying, queen, etc), I found that two of the swarm cells had been broken. Even though I was being careful I guess I broke them (learned a lesson there). Now they seem to have only one swarm cell (of course others could be hidden.)

    What's a good plan for this hive? They tried and failed to swarm. Just wait for emergence? Can I use a frame with a supercedure cell from the other hive to split this hive?

    I could imagine any of these working, but wondering about the best step.
    Year 3
    Zone 7b 3500 ft.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Plumas County, California, USA
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    Default Re: Post swarms--trying to develop a plan

    I still need a plan. One of my hives (I don't know which one) may have swarmed again, or made a trial swarm. Or maybe a bunch of bees with a virgin queen mating flight? My daughter saw a lot of bees swirling around, though I can't find a swarm anywhere nearby. Maybe they returned to the hive. I have no idea. I just got home from work and both hives look very active and busy from the outside.

    But I have to do something. As I stated in the original post above, there were no eggs, larvae, or queen 5 days ago and I didn't really see how I could make a split. But I guess I could have at least put one of the supercedure cells in a nuc. Though, I don't know if this is a good idea.

    The other hive, with only one visible swarm cell, seemed like the more difficult problem.

    I do have one more small hive--a swarm that I caught from one of my hives. Maybe I could combine, or something.

    I'm feeling fairly dumb at the moment. What would you do?
    Year 3
    Zone 7b 3500 ft.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Yuba County, California, USA
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    6,556

    Default Re: Post swarms--trying to develop a plan

    Quote Originally Posted by cconnell View Post
    ...One hive has around 6 supercedure or emergency cells. I'm going to wait for those to emerge. But I'm wondering if I could also use a frame with a supercedure cell to make a nuc split? Would that be wise?

    ...What's a good plan for this hive? They tried and failed to swarm. Just wait for emergence? Can I use a frame with a supercedure cell from the other hive to split this hive?

    I could imagine any of these working, but wondering about the best step.
    I think any of those plans could work out well. Sometimes leaving them alone to see what they do works fine. Sometimes you can increase by making up nucs or splits when you see cells, And yes you can take a frame with cells from one hive and make up a nuc with it with added frames from a different hive. If you want to increase your hive numbers, a split off nuc could be good. The choice of what to do is yours, all the options you've mentioned can work out just fine. No matter what you do, if they have it in their little minds to swarm, it can be pretty hard to stop it very easily.

    Try not to worry to much over it, they will do what they do, and you can watch and learn from the experience. Do as you wish, every option you've mentioned can work fine. Maybe that's why no one has offered any comment, as there really is no BEST way, it's up to you for what your goals are with having bee hives.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Plumas County, California, USA
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    Default Re: Post swarms--trying to develop a plan

    Ray, Thank you for that! It's good to have confirmation when all possibilities seem equally good...or bad. I more or less opted to wait, but after what ever they did today I realize I probably need to do something.
    Year 3
    Zone 7b 3500 ft.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Rosebud Missouri
    Posts
    4,063

    Default Re: Post swarms--trying to develop a plan

    cc....
    I'm feeling fairly dumb at the moment. What would you do?
    Don't let it get you down. It is how I feel most of the time and like you I still have not made a real plan more then adding space though I have thought about more then one plan. Ray knows this to be true about me and I know Ray helps poor suckers like me once in a while and is usually dead on with common sense advice.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Yuba County, California, USA
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    Default Re: Post swarms--trying to develop a plan

    It's hard to give more advice since I'm not fully sure of what's going on. It's hard, sometimes, depending on the situation, to give advice through the internet. I suspect you know what to do, so do it. You don't need permission from anyone here.
    Just don't stress over it, it'll all work out one way or another.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Louisville, KY
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    3,291

    Default Re: Post swarms--trying to develop a plan

    With only a few hives you should be able to tell what hive swarmed. Within 3 days there will be no eggs and there will be swarm cells and the population will be reduced.

    I usually cull a portion of the swarm cells or use them in a split. I leave a couple of the oldest cells, they will have the most wax or if they are about to emerge the tips of the cells will be thinned down by workers, the wax removed to the cacoon.

    If you make a split just make sure your mother hive can support it. Usually they can. Keep in mind if you make a split the flyers will return to the old hive if you don't move them to another yard. You can make a split with a frame of queen cells or if on wax you can gently cut the cells out. On brood comb it is tougher to cut out. I usually move 2 cells incase I damage 1. If both are damaged just recombine hive.

    Swarm cells are good quality, you don't usually have to worry about duds like what can happen sometimes with emergency cells in a weak hive.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Plumas County, California, USA
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    Default Re: Post swarms--trying to develop a plan

    Thanks gww, Burns and Ray for the input. Yes, I have ideas about what to do, but not having done these steps yet, it's just not knowing yet. 5 days ago both hives were without eggs and larvae, though lots of capped brood. I know one of the hives swarmed because I caught it; the other, don;t know, and maybe because of the supercedure or emergency cells there was a different issue.

    Anyway, I will check the hives tomorrow, see where we are and the make some decisions from there. Thanks.
    Year 3
    Zone 7b 3500 ft.

  10. #9
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    Louisville, KY
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    Default Re: Post swarms--trying to develop a plan

    Swarm is around 8 days from egg in cup, virgin emerge 16 +-2 day, virgin laying eggs 28+-5. The queen can continue to lay eggs up until she swarms. You could have virgins running around. I don't know your timing. If your in southern cal timing is probably accelerated due to high temp. In colder weather add time.

    FYI Virgins can be really hard to find

  11. #10
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    Mar 2017
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    Plumas County, California, USA
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    Default Re: Post swarms--trying to develop a plan

    That's good be math to know.
    Year 3
    Zone 7b 3500 ft.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Huntersville, NC, USA
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    Default Re: Post swarms--trying to develop a plan

    I am in the same position as the OP, second year and had at least one swarm and trying to prevent others. Search on here for a post by specialkayme called checker boarding assistance. One reply helped me to make a plan (probably more effective next year) to open the brood nest, move frames of brood up and possibly prevent the swarm. For this year I am hoping it will prevent any more. Cconnel, you are not dumb, you just don’t have the knowledge but you are seeking it out ( me too). I am enjoying the hell out of having so much to learn.

  13. #12
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    Jun 2013
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    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Post swarms--trying to develop a plan

    In the thread titled "Supersedure v emergency cells" there is a link (on the second page of the the thread, I think) to an extremely useful publication (from the WKBA) by Wally Shaw on swarming stage "diagnosis" and what steps to take at each stage.

    I had read it before, but re-read it yesterday and learned even more from it.

    Nancy

  14. #13
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    Mar 2017
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    Default Re: Post swarms--trying to develop a plan

    Nancy, Thanks for the info, you always have great sources and insights. I will read it.
    Kcnc1, yes this has been the challenge this year.

    I did in fact checkerboard the supers above the brood boxes after reading the articles by Walt Wright, and that may have delayed a bit; but I think I was probably too late. It certainly is a learning process and it's making more sense every day. It's interesting to look back even a few weeks to see what is understood now that wasn't before. I find that though I read a lot, it's really a hands on learning process and about making a good decision and taking action at the right moment. It is, however, coming together and the bees are a real joy.
    Year 3
    Zone 7b 3500 ft.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Yuba County, California, USA
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    Default Re: Post swarms--trying to develop a plan

    Yes, just like any new learning, it's the hands on that makes sense out of the book learning. You get a basis from the books, videos, chats, but it don't make good sense until you see it from hands on work... Hope you have a very productive year with your bees this year.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Huntersville, NC, USA
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    Default

    Amen. You can’t field grounders by just reading a book.

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