Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.
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  1. #1
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    Mar 2017
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    Plumas County, California, USA
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    Default Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.

    One of my strongest hives, which I hope will be a good honey producer, has been making lots of swarm cells. I want to try to keep this colony strong and large but am having some difficulty. Here's the chain of events:

    8 days ago I checked the hive and found swarm cells for the first time this season. hive is packed with bees. I removed two frames of brood with swarm cells and one of honey/pollen and made a nuc split. I replaced the removed frames with frames with foundation. Split is nearby and foragers fly back

    Yesterday I checked again (7 days after the split) and found more swarm cells in the big hive. I made another nuc split. The bees are drawing out the new frames. But since the hive would be weakened at this point, I decided to replace these removed frames with one frame of foundation and two frames from a double nuc set up which I intend to use to supply other hives (Thanks you, Michael Palmer). One frame had brood in all stages, the other had a lot of empty cells and some brood. I shook the bees off these frames before moving them.

    I did not see the queen but there were lots of eggs, so I'm half assuming she was still there. I destroyed any remaining queen cells. I will need to check in 5 days for fresh eggs.

    Now, I'm the first to admit that this is probably a pretty lame procedure. At the moment I didn't have proper equipment to do anything else, and didn't see any other immediate solutions to keeping the hive string but preventing swarming. What's a good idea?

    I thought maybe use something like the Demaree method--that is, make sure the queen is in lower box, add QE, then a super and QE, then the deep with the swarm cells, and then another QE and more supers if needed. That would be a two queen hive.

    But I've never done this. Seems like a pain in the butt, but maybe the best solution? What are the pros and cons?

    Any other solutions?

    Let me note that I'm happy to have the increase and will be aggressively splitting hives that aren't for honey. But I want to keep this hive as a honey producer.

    Thanks.
    Year 3
    Zone 7b 3500 ft.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Scott county, Arkansas, Usa
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    Default Re: Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.

    SWARMING
    ITS CONTROL AND PREVENTION By L.E. Snelgrove. This is the method I used for the first time this year. It has worked so far. My colonies are very strong and I have new Queens in all of them as of today. They are packing in the nectar.

    Good Luck
    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.

    Quote Originally Posted by AHudd View Post
    SWARMING
    ITS CONTROL AND PREVENTION By L.E. Snelgrove. This is the method I used for the first time this year. It has worked so far. My colonies are very strong and I have new Queens in all of them as of today. They are packing in the nectar.

    Good Luck
    Alex
    I am certainly pleased with my experience using the Snelgrove board for swarm control, requeening, and producing no hassle splits.
    Frank

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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    2,138

    Default Re: Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.

    Ditto. Its also known as a double screen board. Your bee supply house will have one, but you better act fast. The instructions are intimidating, but the actual procedure really isn't. Enjambres, a member here, wrote up a fantastic how-to guide: https://www.betterbee.com/instructio...84b5-190662833

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    Scott county, Arkansas, Usa
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    Default Re: Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.

    After reading some of Enjambres writings on the Snelgrove board I was inspired to try it. I'm sure I will keep using them.

    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Plumas County, California, USA
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    Default Re: Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.

    Yes,the Snelgrove board is an option. I made a split using one for the first time a couple of weeks ago, on another strong hive in the same situation. Both parent hive and new hive are doing well. In this case I didn't follow thee rules exactly, putting a few frames and drawn comb in the top unit. But so far so good. The nice thing about the Snelgrove, I guess, is that you can keep directing foragers down to the parent hive. I didn't have a Snelgrove board with me on this latest outing. I almost packed it, too, but forgot.

    Both of these hives were two deeps with 10 frames each, brood top and bottom, and packed with bees. I'm not complaining! However, I wonder if I split the hive more equally if the parent unit would make adequate honey; or if it would get swarmy again. Perhaps I'm worrying too much.

    I'm still interested in other ideas, and any experience with Demaree and a 2 queen hive. I'm sure this hive will develop more cells again, so I will probably have to take full measures next time, whatever they are.
    Year 3
    Zone 7b 3500 ft.

  8. #7
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.

    Snelgrove board build 001.jpgSnelgrove board build 006.jpgBee Equip + 001.jpgBee Equip + 003.jpg

    Here is some pics of a Mann Lake double screen division board also known as a Snelgrove Board, and some that I have made. They dont have to be fancy. If you do not want to do the diversion of bees back to the producing colony primarily for swarm control but rather just to start cells and splits, you can forget about making all the doors. That is the time consuming part.
    Frank

  9. #8
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    Mar 2017
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    Plumas County, California, USA
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    Default Re: Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.

    Thanks for the pics, Crofter. I like the simple design in these without much wastage of plywood. I actually made one a little while ago. It gave me the perfect excuse to buy a dado blade for my table saw and practice a little joinery. I was too elaborate with it, though, and have to use a simpler (quicker to make) design. Here's a pic:
    snelgrove.jpg

    I guess I'm going to have to make a few more soon, so I'd better get on it.
    Year 3
    Zone 7b 3500 ft.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.

    Each time I make them I discover simpler construction and get less fancy. You can play around with how much resources you leave in the bottom box. Depends on your flow patterns. I left too much brood on the first ones I set and they got back up to swarm preps about a month later. Throw in 4 or 5 frames of only foundation to keep young bees occupied and the foragers have nothing else to do but make honey. That usually keeps them out of the trees till key swarm time is past and you get extra frames drawn.
    Frank

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    washington, vermont, USA
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    Default Re: Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.

    Going to throw in another idea that I don't think has been put forth. Have you considered requeening it with a freshly mated queen? Not fool proof but might throw them off the impulse to swarm. The snelgroove board is a good idea though as well.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    Scott county, Arkansas, Usa
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    Default Re: Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.

    Here is a picture of the ones I made. I noticed the ones for sale and the ones you guys made have a much larger screen than I do. I went with what Snelgrove suggested. Do you think I should enlarge the screen area?
    Snelgrove Board.jpg

    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  13. #12
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    Apr 2016
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    Cincinnati, OH
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    Default

    I ran into similar trouble on one hive this spring. I think I have that one settled down. Another option is to take the queen out and let them requeen with a swarm cell. The queen can be used elsewhere. This usually results in a big crop as the bees have noting to do for a while but make honey.
    Mistakes are the best taechers

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.

    AHudd, wow that's a pretty simple cut. I really don't know if the hole needs to be larger. I followed the design of the ones that come from suppliers, so what do I know? One thing for me in my climate, though, was to supply adequate warmth for the colony above in weather than can be cold and snowy well into spring.

    Also, using stock from the lumber yard was cheap as I had it on hand.
    Year 3
    Zone 7b 3500 ft.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.

    VT and Beebeard, either replacing or removing the queen is also a possibly good solution. If they make more swarm cells, perhaps next time I'll but the queen in her own nuc, like a cut-down split. The weird thing is this year it's hard to tell when the flow is or will be. It was such a cold, wet spring or long winter, that now everything seems to be blooming out of its normal pattern. Thanks for the suggestions.
    Year 3
    Zone 7b 3500 ft.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.

    Quote Originally Posted by cconnell View Post
    AHudd, wow that's a pretty simple cut. I really don't know if the hole needs to be larger. I followed the design of the ones that come from suppliers, so what do I know? One thing for me in my climate, though, was to supply adequate warmth for the colony above in weather than can be cold and snowy well into spring.

    Also, using stock from the lumber yard was cheap as I had it on hand.
    As far as heat transfer goes I think that the warm floor will provide a lot more than the common use of a separate hive entirely. I think the idea is to have the same colony "smell" that makes it easy to trick the bees into the lower box when the diversion doors are switched; sending bees down to the lower box as foragers as soon as they get the notion to orient.

    Round holes with a cut out saw would be a lot easier than using a jig saw. If you think only one is pushing the envelope you could easily put in more, close together so they could easily be covered with a single piece of screen top and bottom. I will keep that in mind if I have to make more.
    Frank

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.

    Does the OP use all of the same sized equipment?

    Crazy Roland

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
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    Hopkins, MI USA
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    Default Re: Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.

    I'm using the DSB this year for the first time, so far it is going well, have a laying queen in the bottom, queen cells in the top and a LOT of bees. Keeping my fingers crossed.
    zone 5b
    Back in 2019!

  19. #18
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.

    How many cells are you finding at a time?

  20. #19
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    Mar 2017
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    Plumas County, California, USA
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    Default Re: Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.

    I've been finding about four at a time. The first time, there were two queen cells on each frame, so I put both frames in a nuc split. The second time there were two queen cells on each frame (only about 7 days later); I put one frame in another split and removed the other two cells.

    Tomorrow I have to check and make sure there is still a queen. The hive seemed as populous as ever, and I'm hoping the queen had not already left. I know that sometimes they leave about the time the cells are capped. However, when I found the second set of cells, there were still plenty of ggs and young larvae, so I'm hoping she was till there.

    This hive was one of my strongest last year and I hope it can be a honey producer, but if I have to keep splitting, then that's problematic. I gave them an empty super, which they are drawing out and filling with nectar.

    If I find more cells, I think I will do a Demaree type of thing and see if I can run a double queen hive. That should still produce plenty of honey, in theory. I've never done that before, so it will be an interesting experiment.
    Year 3
    Zone 7b 3500 ft.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Honey producer keeps making swarm cells--looking a for a better solution.

    Once they are building swarm cells, it is too late to stop "swarm mentality" - they're just going to keep on trying. Don't waste time with a Snelgrove board - that was a good idea a few weeks ago.

    I'd just keep on making the best possible nuc' splits as you have been and learn to spot the early signs of swarming for next year. The first indication is that the hive population goes up in the Spring, next the drone-sized cells get made, then the drones get eggs laid in them, they are capped, then they start back-filling the brood nest with nectar. This causes the nurse bees start emitting a warbling sound because there is nothing to do, then swarm cells appear.

    You can still evade a swarm when the back-filling of the brood nest with nectar is first detected, especially if you remove drone brood and split yup the hive and add foundation frames right then. Once the swarm queen cells are being built, it's usually better to just break them up into new nuc' colonies - 2 queen cells and a 64 oz cup of bees apiece. It is a good idea to move the nuc's 10 miles away for a month or 2 until they can defend themselves from robbing bees.

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