Preparing for the fall flow - preventing late swarms - please help.
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Northeast PA
    Posts
    170

    Default Preparing for the fall flow - preventing late swarms - please help.

    The fall flow hasn't started, but there was a swarm the other day..

    Currently, all hives have most of their 2nd deep completely full of capped honey, and they're all working on drawing out and filling the honey super with honey.

    Unfortunately, it seems that they're more interested in swarming than drawing out their honey supers. I've seen them routinely choose to swarm rather than draw out a honey super.

    We have a long winter, and I'm not quite sure what to do if they swarm this late.

    Here's my 2 options that I can think of:

    1. Harvest most of the 2nd brood box of honey (but this is not preferable, as some hives have apivar, and it can't be eaten.

    2. What if I break the 2 brood boxes with a honey super of undrawn foundation? Will that "force" them to draw out that super instead of focusing on swarming?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    2,561

    Default Re: Preparing for the fall flow - preventing late swarms - please help.

    I would not break them apart during a nectar dearth if I could avoid it, although you may have to and go ahead and feed them if you do.

    If they have back-filled the brood nest with nectar, they are going into swarm mode. This usually starts about 3 weeks before a swarm - 21 days. Once they start making queen cells, they will swarm unless you intervene. Queens take 15-1/2 days average to emerge, but the swarm takes off before that, right about the day the queen cells are being capped (usually 6 or 7 days after the egg is layed in the queen cell cup). So the eggs are layed in the queen cells about 14 or 15 days after the back-filling begins.

    First step is to make sure that there are drones in the hives. If there are none, you'll have to buy a mated queen or a nucleus colony with a laying queen and newspaper combine them.

    If they have started making queen cells, you can separate the brood boxes into 2 colonies. Make sure both colonies get as equal as you can 1) at least 1 queen cell - 2 queen cells are better!, 2) a pollen frame or 2, and 3) capped brood. If there are no queen cells, make sure each gets open brood with eggs or 1-day -old larva (They will make queen cells out of these if they are queenless.) Of course you'll need 2 hive bottom boards, 2 hive tops (either commercial or inner cover + telescoping cover) and a honey box each.

    Find the queen and separate her with a "Super Big Gulp" cup full of bees, a frame of capped brood, a frame of pollen and honey, into a 4-, 5-, or 6-frame nucleus hive box. Move this nuc' colony 10 miles away for a month. I'd give this nuc a pollen substitute patty and a hive top feeder with Bee Sweet or 1:1 sugar water with HBH mixed in. This nucleus colony with the old queen should NOT have any queen cells!

    Best of luck!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Harrisburg, PA
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Preparing for the fall flow - preventing late swarms - please help.

    What are your mite levels? I had lots and lots of swarms last year- turns out my apivar strips were ineffective and the swarms were absconding swarms. OAV saved all my hives last year

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    2,561

    Default Re: Preparing for the fall flow - preventing late swarms - please help.

    I seem to have neglected to mention that the goal for 2-deep box standard U. S. Langstroth hives going into Winter is 130 Avoirdupois pounds. You may end up newspaper-combining them after the Fall nectar flow to reach that weight. Those are your production colonies next Spring.

    You're in Northern Pennsylvania, so I would suggest double nuc's as a minimum for over-Wintering, possibly even triple or 4-way nuc' boxes (minimum 5-frame boxes for over-Wintering). These arrangements all share some heat (the 4-way nuc's especially, as they share 2 walls with other bees). A standard box double (2 x 5-frame nuc') fits nicely over a strong colony for plenty of free heat.

    I've even seen a 2-deep colony on the bottom with 3 sets of 2 x 5-frame nuc's on top, all separated by double screen boards, wrapped for Winter. The beek' reported that it worked quite nicely - all survived.

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