I recently discovered swarm cells in one of my hives and went with the Snelgrove swarm control method 2 as documented by Wally Shaw. The initial manipulation was done on May 7 using a Snelgrove board and placing the queen with (most) brood frames on top and leaving the other two boxes plus honey super below.
I went in today and discovered LOTS of capped queen cells in the lower colony. I obviously didn't get the brood separation done correctly. I run 8 frame medium so the brood was spread across three boxes so it was challenging to identify and separate all of the brood during the initial manipulation.
So now what's the best move? Do I tear down all of the queen cells in the lower colony and stay on course - moving the queen back downstairs on May 16? Or does it make sense to leave it be and let the new queen emerge in the lower box, get mated, and continue on their way? I'd estimate a dozen queen cells across 3 frames so I wonder if I let it ride if I'd end up with after swarms?
You should have queen cells started in the bottom boxes. They would be emergency cells created because you moved the queen to above the division board. I would reduce them to one or two cells in the bottom.
I am following Snelgrove original instructions so perhaps Shaw gives different numbers to the manouvers in his rendition so I may be missing something in the translation but I dont see a problem in what you describe.
Edit; It is difficult to do the sorts; a couple of spare hive bodies to sort into helps. To be sure the bottom box does not stay in swarm mode it is best to leave them only one frame with brood. The majority of the young bees should separated off to go above the division board. This should leave the bees in the bottom with an age group bees and lack of brood that would be abnormal for swarm conditions.
I usually set them up pre-emptively; Enjambres has a lot more experience doing it when swarm preps are well under way. Maybe she will chime in.
The next step should be done now if no virgin has hatched. The second step of method two is to move the brood frames you left in the bottom to the top and to find the top queen and move her down to the bottom where your three frames were. From there it depends what you want to do.
Do you want lots more bees? You could put two of the frames with cells in thier own split and one in the top of the hive so that the top part can become queenrite. Or you could just cull the cells down to two good ones and just put the queen cells in the top and the queen to the bottom.
I am not experianced but what I would do in your place is move the origional queen down. I would at minimum move the three brood frames up after culling down the cells to two and I would set the whole top part on its own bottom board and let it become a hive. I would probly go ahead and use a few of the queen cells in very small splits just incase one does not make it back from the mating flight. I would super the bottom part that now has the queen and no brood cause it has all the foragers and no brood yet and should go to town.
I hope this is not confusing.
It is time to do this now cause if you let a queen cell hatch in the bottom, it changes everything.
To stop a colony that's getting ready to swarm - one that already has charged cells with larvae and royal jelly.
Here's how to do the Mthod II (modified) in the Wally Shaw paper:
Move the whole shebang off the stand, on to multiple temporary bases, if necessary, for quick access to a variety of frames to make up the new stack.
Pace a new base on the old site.
Put a an empty brood box on the base.
Fill this box: a frame of honey and pollen (or 2 if it's a 10-frame hive), fill all but two of the remaining spots with frames of empty drawn comb (foundation OK on one or two, if needed). Plus, select two frames of eggs or very young larvae from the about-to-swarm hive and put them in the center of the new brood box surrounded with the above. It is critically important that the queen is not on either of the two brood frames. You don't really care which other frame she's on, just definitely NOT on either of these two.
Super up generously as you will have a lot of bees with little to do except gather nectar.
Above that place boxes that contain all the other brood, some frames of stores, and all the other bees including the queen. Make sure (even if you have to remove some frames to do it) that there is some empty drawn comb so the queen can start laying immediately.
Cover the hive in whatever way is normal for you.
Open one of the doors - to the top section only -along one of the long sides.
You're done with the first step! Count this as Day 1, in reference to the timings below.
Four days later, as the brood upstairs starts to hatch out, you can close the original door in the S/B and open the one just below it. Then open another door to the top section on either the other side of the hive, or if you think that there are starting to be just the right amount of adult bees in the upper section, then open the one on the back end.
Four days later (i.e. day 8 from the manipulation) do another door change-up (unless you have already opened the back end door, see above). This will leave you with entrance to the S/B on the back end of the hive. After this DO NOT MAKE ANY MORE DOOR CHANGES.
On any day after Day 7 but absolutely by the 11th day, you do the final part of the manipulation. This is the swapping of the queen out of the top section and moving the frames with the queen cells in the bottom section up to the top section.
And this time you really do have to find the queen.
I do the queen finding, first. It will be easier because all the oriented foragers have long since left the hive, and you also have moved more of the adult bees down into the bottom sections when you did the one (or two) door change-ups. So the upper section will have many fewer bees, and hopefully the queen is back in lay, and not indulging any runny, pre-swarm hide-and-seek dramas. So, you find her and then stash her on the frame she's on in a nuc box. Then pick another nice brood frame to go along with her and place it in the brood box, too.
Now set the box (or boxes) of the upper section aside on a temp stack.
Pry up the Snelgrove board.
Remove the supers. Do an assessment to see if additional frames or boxes are needed in the supers because you won't want to come back for another couple of weeks.
Remove the two frames left behind to have queen cells on them. I stash theses two frames in another nuc bxs for the time being.
Get the queen's frame and the other brood comb out of her nuc box and put them in place of the two frames with the queen cells that you've taken from the lower section.
Install a queen excluder, if you use them.
Super up with whatever you think will be needed.
Now put the box (or boxes) of the upper section back on the stack placing one of the frames with queen cells where you took out the queen and her spare frame. At this point you can use the second frame to make up a nuc, if you want another chance at getting a mated queen out and laying, and if you have the resources (queen cells, bees and stores) to make up a nuc box.) Whether you use both frames in the upper section, or only one (reserving the other one for a nuc), you want to leave only two, or three intact queen cells in the upper section. You'll have the slightly grim task of culling the excess cells by cutting or scraping them off.
Then when all is set, you close up the box, and settle down to wait. And make no entry into the boxes, or any changes, however slight.
The queen will hatch a few days after the queen-swap, harden her wings for a few days, and go out mating. Then she''ll fiddle around getting her egg-laying skills perfected for a further few days. And then about two weeks later you can check for eggs (if you regularly can see them) or wait a further few days until any eggs have turned into fat white grubs that you can't miss.
Once the hive is confirmed queenright, all that remains is getting the upper section off the Snelgrove board and on to a base of it's own. If for some reason you don't have a laying queen, you can combine the two parts, again. While you won't get a new colony out of the deal, you will have, at least, stopped the hive from swarming. And that is no small victory.
You can also use a Snelgrove to make splits, but the technique (who and what goes where in the initial division). There is no queen swapping, but you have to find the queen as a first step. If you fail to get a queen from the swarm-stopping effort, you can still make a split and get a queen out of that.
Thanks for that thorough explanation, Nancy. That helped tremendously and I got my second manipulation done yesterday (day 7 for me).
One question... how about the drones that are redirected from above to below on the Snelgrove (with a queen excluder in place)? I’d still like to do a door change on the Snelgrove (from front door to back door) and thus more foragers below. But I have a queen excluder between brood boxes and honey supers. I know they’ll get in/out of the “upper” entrance ok while that Snelgrove door is open but when I remove the Snelgrove - what then? I don’t want them trapped above the QEx. I can shake/brush all bees off the honey supers (into the brood boxes) in 2 weeks when I remove the Snelgrove - that’s about my only option, right?
I use a snelgrove board to make splits and raise queens from my strongest colonies.
I put the queen in the lower box with empty comb below and excluder and all the brood in the upper box above the snelgrove board with some boxes in between. I look for a queen on a frame, then shake the bees in lower box. After I find the queen, no more shaking. Sometimes I never find her but I only go through the hive once. If I have to shake most of the bees, then I don't put on the snelgrove board till the following day allowing the nurse bees to repopulate the upper box. I manipulate entrances so all the forages go to the top box and provide lots of food for the brood and queen cells started. After they are capped, I start diverting them back down. If you let a queen mate in the upper boxes, then be careful about when you manipulate the entrances. Today I am placing 20 cells from this method.
While the Snelgrove board is place, after the door manipulation, just leave the "receiving" door open, at least enough for drones to exit. Stay alert for robbing, but this is unlikely since the doors can be narrowed down quite well, and this is also a low-robbing pressure time of year.
If you have a lot of drones above the qu ex after you take the SB off, a night with a bee escape board on instead of the qu ex will solve your problem. Once all the bees are out of the supers, re-install qu ex and carry on.
What you are describing is the method used for simple splitting, which is an excellent use of a Snelgrove board. I do all my splits above a S/B because it works so well for that.
However, what I was describing above was the use of the board in the very special situation when you have a colony that is well on its way to swarming and already has charged queen cells. The technique is quite different in that situation from what works when your goal is just splitting the hive.
How can we get a Moderator to make a pin for Nancy's post in #4? We make Nancy retype this about once every 2 months. (I know I have worn her out with my own questions) What would be a better idea is to have Nancy do a pinned thread with a walk through of both Method I and Method II and then she could just link it when trying to answer our many questions about some oddball development or situation we have. It is not that it is all that complicated, it is just very detailed with multiple steps and some variations in facts that will make you do A verse B. I find myself needing to refer back to it often and I am only assuming others here do as well. The search features are less than excellent and it is difficult to weed through all of the volume to get that nugget you remembered.
Any other votes for a pin? Or maybe we can impose on Nancy to start a new thread that gets pinned with Methods I and II. She can just copy #4 for the Method II at this point.