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Discussion Starter #1
Two weeks ago I removed my overwintered queen from a booming hive and set her up in a nuc. I left the parent colony to raise some queen cells from the larvae that stayed behind. I then took the cells that were produced and split them into five nucs with nurse bees, capped brood and stores. All of the nucs are doing well; the new queens are emerging (watched one emerge today, heard piping too) and stores are built up nicely. I left a few cells (four) in the parent hive.

It turns out that even a blind squirrel can find an acorn, and this squirrel has come to realize that he somehow managed to perform a rather successful cutdown split. Our spring flow was strong, and the parent hive is absolutely full of honey (2 deeps, 2 mediums), bees and a few queen cells that have not yet emerged (but will soon, I believe).

Am I right in assuming that, once the new queens emerge in this honeybound hive, that they are likely to leave with a swarm?

If that is so, am I also correct in assuming that getting some empty drawn comb into the brood box ASAP might be the best thing I can do to prevent a swarm? If there's nothing to be done, I'll chalk it up to experience, but I sure would like to gain some more hive management skills as a result of this situation.

Thanks in advance.

-Pete

P.S. I do try to follow the edict in my signature line, but when you don't know what it is that you don't know, then things get a little dicey.;)
 

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Thanks, Ray. I've added a medium of drawn/partially drawn comb and foundation from a winter deadout. That's all I had left after making the splits. Hopefully that will at least give the queen somewhere to lay once she's mated, and dissuade the colony from deciding to make its own split before then. If the hive doesn't fill it with honey, that is. I think that we're nearing the end of the spring flow.
 

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Many times, once the virgin is mated and starts laying, the bees will move the honey up do give her room to lay down under the honey. Not all at once mind you, but as she lays, they'll start moving honey up and to the sides of where she's laying. As brood emerges, they'll move more honey up, the queen will move down. This depends some on the flows and organizations in the hive too. Adding that partially drawn super was a good choice, Good Luck!
 

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I am not sure if your hive consist of two deeps and two mediums or there is another brood chamber involved but if you just keep adding space and you don't use a QE the queen will find it and be happy. If you have a QE then you must add the space to the brood chamber assuming it is full.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks, Brian. They've filled up two deeps and two mediums completely, the whole hive, from the bottom of the hive to the top. Every frame. Where I left a gap between frames to avoid breaking queen cells open, they doubled the depth of the cells and filled them with honey. This is not a situation I wanted or planned for (I am aiming for more bees this year, not honey), but it is pretty impressive to see. I do not have an excluder on the hive so if what I've added is attractive, then she'll find the space. We're in for rain over the next 2 days, so there shouldn't be too much nectar coming in. And, she also will need to mate first. So I am basically buying time. In the meanwhile, I am trying to also rustle up an extractor to empty some frames.
 

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Ouch, I think you are too late if the whole hive is filled with honey / nectar. The decision to swarm has been made. If I found this I would shake all the bees into another empty hive with a frame of brood. If there are a lot of bees I would make two hives. Maybe this is bad advice but it is what I would do.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yes, ouch indeed! It happened very, very quickly....from one deep of drying nectar to jam packed with capped honey within 10 days. I do figure they are more likely to swarm than not, but figure that I'd rather try something and have them go than do nothing and see them go. Of course, there is always the possibility that they will stay. I'll hold out some hope, and have several swarm traps around the immediate area that might provide a small amount of insurance. If I had extra queens I would probably shake bees out, like you said. This is only the start of my second year; last year at this time the flow was lousy and the bees were busy building up from packages. What a difference a year makes.
 

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You got queen cells... Those are your queens. You don't have to buy anything. I think your goal is to keep the bees, not try to catch them when they are in route.
 

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Could you extract honey from the frames in one of the deeps then add it back shortly before the queen starts laying so they can clean it up and she'll have a place to lay? Just wondering "outloud" as I don't have a clue. But without this forum to ask I think that's what I'd do?
 

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Hi: It may be infeasible, but would it be possible to set yourself up to extract and then remove (sequentially) and extract as many frames or supers as you felt necessary (all in one day)? If you extracted three of the four supers, you'd be set with drawn comb all ready for your boomer hive and your nucs to clean up and re-fill with brood or honey. By doing it super by super, you wouldn't leave them with nowhere to hang out while you did this task. Just trying to think (after a bit of study).
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Extracting is one of the approaches I am thinking about taking. All I need is an extractor :) My wife had ordered one as a surprise for our anniversary, on the very day I spotted the issue, and when I told her about it she spilled the beans. As you might guess, the extractor is not yet here. Unless I can round one up ASAP, I'll have to be patient and try other approaches.

Like Brian said, it is quite likely that they have already made the decision to swarm. The queens are hatching out now, and my addition of a partially drawn super was intended to buy a little time so that they wouldn't take off with the virgin or a queen that somehow mated quickly. Even extracting might not make a difference (in this case it is pretty much the same as adding a drawn super). I am thinking that removing bees will also be a good idea, and will have to see if that can be pulled off in a way that won't leave a now broodless hive queenless. I'll have to think through that one to ensure that I have the resources; they are stretched a bit due to the five splits I made out of the hive.

As a big positive, I'll have honey this year and my wife still likes me enough despite the bee obsession. WooHoo!
 

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So I am basically buying time. In the meanwhile, I am trying to also rustle up an extractor to empty some frames.
Thats what I was thinking..
All my hives are loaded with honey. I'll extract this weekend, By July 4th they will be full again.

Good luck
 

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You could take honey without an extractor. Crush and strain might be a bit messy if you have foundation but I would just scrape as much as I could off into a colander ideally lined with cheesecloth and let it drain, then give them back the mess to clean up. They still might swarm, but...
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I managed to extract today, and the extracted frames went back into the hive. I did manage to get them down to 2 deeps and a medium. No swarm (yet?). I did see the queen, she isn't mated yet and is slightly larger than her attendants. Oddly, it has been only with virgins that I have seen the 'starburst' of attendants surrounding the queen. As I get more experience, I am sure that this could change. Thanks for your comments and advice, everyone. I am looking forward to the day when I can remove supers and extract on a less frenetic timetable. Maybe this Fall...who knows? :)
 
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