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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have two hives that were started last spring. Both wintered good with stores still remaining. I live in central Arkansas. One hive has a deep and two medium supers. The other hive one deep and one medium.
Temps this week will see highs of 55-65 degrees with no flowers, only dandelions starting to emerge. I have been open air feeding for a couple weeks now with alot of bee activity in and out of the hives.
At what point do I need to worry about the hives swarming? I plan on splitting both hives this spring to increase my numbers. Since this will be my first year coming out of winter, I don't have a clue what to expect. Are these hives likely to swarm before April 1st?
 

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They could, especially with all that feeding. How congested is the brood area? Is there still room for the queen to lay? Just keep checking for swarm cells and if you see any, make your split (old queen in new hive w/ frames of capped brood, eggs and honey). It's the same thing as a swarm, only you don't need to go chasing down any bees.
 

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During an ordinary spring swarming will begin between March 22 and the middle of April. What effect your feeding will have on the swarming urge I can't say but usually it increases it. Those dates are for the Mountain View area.

If you don't belong to a beekeeping association, there is one that meets the third Thursday of each month at the community center building in Damascus. Starting time is 7 pm.
 

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Splitting strong hives in early spring is excellent swarm control but one should not wait for queen cells to appear otherwise swarm fever has already started and just like a broody hen, there seems to be no way you can stop them. I would follow the dates mentioned above by AR Beekeeper and do the splits before those dates. Then there would be no swarms, you would still get the splits and some honey. You could just as well "equalize" your hives with the removed frames if you didn't want to make splits. OMTCW
 

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Keep an eye on their brood production. If they have filled out one brood deep and working on the second then think about splitting them at that point. The more brood the harder you need to split. Make sure you take a mix of sealed, emerging and eggs. And like mentioned by Ceder split BEFORE you start to see queen cells.
 

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Didn't mean to imply that you should wait until you see Q cells. That's why I asked about space in the brood nest. If there's space, then you have time. However, they could decide to preempt all your careful planning, so keep an eye out for Q cells too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
During an ordinary spring swarming will begin between March 22 and the middle of April. What effect your feeding will have on the swarming urge I can't say but usually it increases it. Those dates are for the Mountain View area.

You know of course this hasn't been an ordinary winter, so let's hope it is an ordinary spring. Sounds like I need to keep a close eye on them for the next 2-3 weeks. I have not been into the center of the hives yet because of the cool weather, but I will do an inspection this week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Did an inspection on one hive this afternoon. Bottom deep has lots of capped honey, some capped brood and some uncapped brood. 2nd medium super the same. Lots of capped honey and good patterns of capped and uncapped brood. Top super some capped honey about the middle four frames. I am afraid the hive is honey bound. I've been feeding some old nasty tasting honey left over from last falls crop. I'm afraid I may be honeybound. Not much space for queen to lay.
Since I don't have any extra drawn comb seems like I may me in a perdicament. I could pull some of the full frames of honey and replace with frames of foundation, but that wouldn't help the queen find a place to lay very quickly. She may go ahead and move on up to the 3rd super and start laying.
What if I pulled out some of the empty frames of the 3rd super and exchanged with the full honey frames out of the 2nd super?
It seems I may be headed for some learning experience and very soon.:scratch:
 

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Do you have an extractor? If you do just extract the honey out of the middle frames leaving the end ones with honey. They will clean them out and start laying in them right away.
 

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An inspector found my hive honeybound which was also the first time I heard the term. They swarmed shortly thereafter.

I've tried a couple methods of swarm control with little sucess. Some think when they're set on swarming, there's no changing the girls' minds. Others suspect genetics and since all my hives are from swarms that may be so. Swarm is what they do to propagate and I'm starting to think that fighting it is not working with bees.

Last year I made queenless splits that seemed to help, but my yield was embaressing. May have been our wet spring. A couple hives still swarmed, but later.

The easiest solution I found is to keep some extra gear handy. Let's you grab a swarm, use spare time to order stuff, wait for ground shipping and leasurely assemble. Also let's you experiment or play with other configurations like top bars and get a colony on the cheap to put in your neighbor's yard. This year I may try bait hives with lemon grass oil and hope that I won't force myself up a tree again.

I'm also rigging up a 5 gal bucket on a paint stick with a cord to pull the lid closed. Mike Bush suggests shaking a swarm into such a rig from below. Keeps your feet on the ground.
 
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