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Discussion Starter #1
Darn... just when I though all was good and hives doing well.

I have 3 hives- 2 started from nucs in April and 1 was a walkaway split from one of the hives that was booming. That booming hive kept booming. And booming. And then swarmed. It's rebounding now- they made a new queen and she's laying. I am feeding them to help with stores replenishment, but all seems ok. The other hive (the other original nuc hive) kept slowly doing well all summer. I inspected last week- good brood, stores, plenty of space for laying. I didn't note any QC's, but did notice it was just a massive amount of bees and even closing up the hive they were jkust spilling out. Had to smoke bigtime to get them down enough to close.

So, this morning (amazingly a day after I chimed in on the other post about swarms), I look out to see a cloud of bees in the back. They were just pouring out of the 2nd hive that was doing so well last week. They've collected on a poplar branch about 80 feet above the hive, and now seems mass exodus is over and foragers are returning to hive with pollen, business back to (half) normal.

What the heck am I doing wrong to have 2/3 hives swarm on me? This hive that swarmed today had space to lay, stores, etc. Only thing I can think is that I overfed? I started feeding them last week, and while they didn't take the pollen they def took the syrup. I had treated with apivar in mid July/August, removed the strips last week. Thought all was good.

Now I'm faced with: do I let them raise a new queen (assuming they have QC's/eggs), or am I pushing it drone-wise and even if I get a good emerged queen by then will I not have good mating drones around? My other options are buying a mated queen, or combining this hive with the split (now in 5 frame hive x 3 deeps) that has a great queen.

Frustrated that I wasn't able to hold on to my bees that seemed to be doing so well.
 

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Suggest moving frames of brood up into new boxes to get them to view added space as theirs. Everything is easier with drawn comb.
 

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Darn...
......did notice it was just a massive amount of bees and even closing up the hive they were jkust spilling out................
Frustrated that I wasn't able to hold on to my bees that seemed to be doing so well.
And so they were spilling out and you did not expand them.
IF they are spilling out either 1)give them more space or 2)split them.
Good idea to always have some buffer space to accommodate the excessive workforce (slatted racks and some buffer downstairs if vertical; another box above if vertical; space behind the follower board if horizontal).
If no more holding buffer left - split.

Notice, there maybe laying space and stuff, BUT, the foraging force does not care of the laying space.
They don't even go to the laying space, they avoid it.
The idle/resting foragers need space to rest and hang out when idle for any reason.
You give them space or they will make that decision for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Last week when I was inspecting, the bottom deep had some brood, stores and honey caps, but open cells for sure. Top deep was more densely packed with brood, stores on outside of frames, some outer frames of capped honey. The bottom super was about 80% full of honey and top super about 30% drawn, little nectar. So, I figured there was still space-- should I have added another deep on top of bottom deep? Being the first season I'm just not good at determining that they need more room if there's open comb, and I figured the spilling over was just because I was upsetting the hive/bees everywhere and not going down into deeps. But I guess like you say the there was just too much workforce, not enough room. ?Do folks just keep adding on deeps?

I don't really understand what you mean with " excessive workforce (slatted racks and some buffer downstairs if vertical; another box above if vertical; space behind the follower board if horizontal).
If no more holding buffer left - split."

Thanks for responding
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Yes, late in the season, you just keep adding boxes. I inspected a hive Monday that the bees were spilling out of a two deep and a medium setup. We added another deep and another medium. There were that many bees. Hopefully got them the extra drawn comb before they got the idea to swarm.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm kicking myself! I feel like this first season I've accomplished by goal of learning to do basic inspections, find queen, eggs, determine if they have good brood pattern etc. But I seem to not have that next level of how to manage the hive and when to add. I was under the impression that they just kind of reached a steady state, and that once they filled those deeps and started putting honey in the supers that it was more about adding more room for stores than keep adding room for more brood. So- I've got supers on and there's still plenty of room there but I guess the key was the brood chambers. I am definitely learning the hard way this first season!

Another factor is SHB's- all my hives have loads of them. I tried to use the traps but seemed more trouble than worth considering the numbers, and I didn't want to risk spilling oil all over the frames. But maybe that's another stress to them.

Isn't this late for them to swarm? I thought that swarming from more spring/early summer and not so much first season hives?

I can't imagine that the swarmed bees/queen will be able to set up shop enough to survive winter-- shame.

Ok- so lesson learned. When I think "wow- this is a lot of bees," time for more brood boxes (seems counterintuitive to me- last thing I'd think I need is more bees..)
 

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Isn't this late for them to swarm? I thought that swarming from more spring/early summer and not so much first season hives?
not always but it seems that many cases of swarming earlier or later than 'expected' is associated with providing syrup.

the idea is that the colony gets 'confused' into thinking that there is a very strong nectar flow and that it is a good time to swarm.

it may have been better to wait until the very end of the season (before it gets too cold to feed), weigh the hives, and then provide syrup only as necessary to achieve winter weight.

if you can find michael palmer's posts about how he does that at his northern location that should work nicely for you as well.

jmho, but i think it would have been unlikely that you would have gotten foundation drawn out this late in the season. if that were the case they would be pulling new comb in your top super. it would be the same if you would have tried putting a deep of foundation on the bottom.

without feeding the broodnest would have likely gotten closed out from the top down and those cells filled with fall honey. i think you'll find what open cells you saw at your last inspection are now crammed full of syrup.
 

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I'm kicking myself! ...
Well, don't.
This is just beekeeping reality.
Many (most?) keepers just have no time to be continuously on top of those things.
As well, it is hard OR a bad idea to do things properly in anticipation of swarming.
Then bees just make those decisions for us.

This season I botched are very strong a productive swarm exactly this way (which I myself caught just a couple of months prior, of all things).
I did not expand them in time and they exploded, plugged the hive with honey, and swarmed away while I was busy elsewhere.
Lost a very large chunk of useful workforce, lost some potential honey harvest, and a decent queen gone with them.
Totally my fault.

Well, in my defense, I just did not have the time to run about and keep checking on them because "life happens".
Then 2 week vacation out of town.
By the time I got around to check on them, the bees got tired of limited quarters and took off.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
not always but it seems that many cases of swarming earlier or later than 'expected' is associated with providing syrup.
Ok.. this makes sense time-wise to me. So- that first hive that swarmed on me was 2 weeks after starting apivar- when I started feeding them. And this hive that swarmed today has been fed syrup now x past 2-3 weeks.

I was under the impression that "bulking them up" for fall was a good idea. It totally makes sense now that my overfeeding them likely caused the swarming behavior. Darn-- they were all doing so great, but I fiddled too much.

Ok- so, should I remove remaining feed, hold off on additional syrup until late fall like you mentioned? My concern is that they won't have enough stores- especially the swarmed hive.

And, do you think I still have enough time for that hive to raise a new queen, get her mated and have enough bees by winter? Or, should I get a mated queen now (or combine with that split I did late spring)?

I realize there are no "answers," just advice born from experience. And, I see how I'm learning by every "screw up" experience!

Thanks for the helpful info folks

By the way-- is there anything I can do to attract that swarm now 80 feet above the hive? I put the nuc box with some frames/beeswax up in the same tree about 6' off ground- but I'm guessing without any attractant etc the chances of getting bees to set up there is next to zilch?
 

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Pre swarming indicators and how to react to them are the hardest things to learn in be keeping in my opinion. I have read tons of things on it and haven't got much better at it I think it just takes a lot more experience. J
 

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Some bees will jump right onto a new box or new frames. Other bees you have to keep inserting empty frames between drawn frames and keep moving frames up into new boxes. When they have slowed drawing frames it is hard to get them restarted. Much to do with the flow.
Cold weather, guarding empty space and SHBs are the reasons to expand only when they fill 3/4 of the hive and have capped brood in the pipeline. Fall does not feel as crucial with adding extra boxes ( that may be a here thing).

Why, ask the bees not me.
 

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And, do you think I still have enough time for that hive to raise a new queen, get her mated and have enough bees by winter? Or, should I get a mated queen now (or combine with that split I did late spring)?
good questions. an interruption in brooding at this critical time when the final rounds prior to winter are being reared is unfortunate but it may work out ok, time will tell.

i usually wait 3 - 4 weeks post swarm and look for evidence of a mated laying queen. tough call on what to do in your situation. does the split look like its going to make it to wintering strength? can you get mated queens this late?



By the way-- is there anything I can do to attract that swarm now 80 feet above the hive? I put the nuc box with some frames/beeswax up in the same tree about 6' off ground- but I'm guessing without any attractant etc the chances of getting bees to set up there is next to zilch?
sounds like you are doing the best you can with what you have to work with. lemongrass oil can be purchased at some of the health food/herb shop type stores. are there any scouts checking out the nuc?
 

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Thisoldfish, Welcome to beekeeping! You are doing great for a first year of beekeeping and don't let the swarming get to you. If you are lucky, and I have no reason to believe you won't be, your new queens will mate and you will have excellent bees going into the winter. Next year will be great because you will have a young healthy queen in each hive and by the end of March, you will have totally full boxes of bees. In my area, we had a once in a decade maple flow in April and May. Most of the people who bought nucs lost them to the trees early in the year and in many cases, within weeks of buying the nuc. The bees could not draw comb fast enough to keep up with the nectar coming in. In my opinion, it is far better to have a swarm after the main flow than just before the main flow of the year. As Fivej stated, learning the signs of swarming is difficult, especially for a new beekeeper. It takes experience, lots of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
thanks all-- appreciate it. So- the swarm is gone. Didn't see anyone checking out the box I had in the tree- they're gone. I actually drove around looking to see if I saw them in any low limbs-- nada.

I did have to get into the 2 main hives to get the feeders OFF. While I was in the swarmed hive I gave a good look. Well, it's interesting-- WAY more bees still there than I had expected. In fact, with all the eggs, uncapped/capped brood and stores with that number of bees I'm not sure I would have known something was off had I not seen them swarm this morning. They definitely did backfill empty brood cells with nectar. However- they were way mellower than last week, and of course I didn't see a queen. I only saw 3 QC's in entire hive- 2 uncapped and 1 capped.

I'm thinking best move is to requeen with locally mated queen, if I can find. I'll let those QC's sit until (if) I find a new queen, then I'll dispatch those cells when I replace the queen. Maybe thre are still enough bees (with all those eggs/young brood) to not have so much of a hickup in population if I can get someone laying within a week or two.

That nuc I have is a big colony now- 3 deeps- so I'm thinking it would not be a good move to combine with the swarmed hive-- I'm guessing would be too many bees and back to square one?

Icing on the cake: I'm learning. Now I now the pitfalls, firsthand, of overfeeding!

Thanks again- what a great forum

brad
 

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Brad, my advice is to take the frame of queen cells and a frame of capped brood and start a nuc when you introduce the new queen. If she mates and starts laying eggs, you can add resources from your other hives to quickly bring it to wintering strength. If not, you simply recombine the remaining bees. I have two of these cooking right now with qc's I found last week.
 

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It's not you as much as the weather this year. I didn't talk to anyone that caught spring swarms or lost them. Within the past few weeks lots of people are catching swarms. BIG ones.

I suspect it has something to do with being locked in because of the month of rain and now Goldenrod is going crazy.

I made 2 late nucs in July. Both are booming. I had moved them to a 5-over-5 configuration thinking that would last into winter. Last night I moved one of them into an 8-over-8 deep box, The 5-over-5 was stuffed with bees! I'd move the other but I'm out of drawn deep combs now.

I don't buy queens so in your case I'd take the 3rd deep and the recent swarm and make 2 new hives. I still have lots of drones here so I'm guessing you do too. If they don't make it through winter you have a great jump on spring. If they do make it you're in great shape.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks for that advice JW- only problem is I'm running out of equipment! I suppose I could put them into the cardboard nuc box for time being. And Steve-- I also want to move my 5 frame (3 deeps) into 8 frame deeps. . Do you simply take the 5 frame boxes off and put the new 8 frame boxes in same spot and then move the deep frames over? That easy?
 

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Yep, that easy. That is why I assumed you had a few nucs laying around. At least one complete after you move the bees over to the eight frame boxes. When moving frames to the 8, I like to put the undrawn frames in the top box.
 

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Yep, that easy. That is why I assumed you had a few nucs laying around. At least one complete after you move the bees over to the eight frame boxes. When moving frames to the 8, I like to put the undrawn frames in the top box.
Yes. What he said, except I do it a little different. When it is warm I put one undrawn in the middle and the other two the 2nd frame in from the edges. I don't worry about splitting the broodnest when it is warm and think they draw it faster in the middle. But, all of that is just personal preference.

I add 3 frames to each box rather than rearranging everything and putting all the new frames on top.
 
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