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This is my first year beekeeping. I've been reading about swarming and queen cells, but I only have a few and am not sure if I need to do more than break up the brood nest to give more room.

I have two hives given to me by a nice beekeeper, that are booming with bees. I put the empty second deeps on 2 weeks ago with undrawn duragilt foundation. But, they have only drawn a bit of wax up to the bottom of the new frames in the 2nd box. And there are now a TON more bees in the bottom deep. With no drawn comb above, the queens must both be feeling crowded. Today I found a few scattered empty queen cells (4 or 5) in the carniolan hive, along with a group of 3 queen cells at the bottom of one frame, two of which have fat white uncapped larva in them.

My second hive (the italians) only had 3 or 4 scattered empty queen cells in it -- no larva.

So, I pulled up 4 frames, (2 brood and 2 honey) put them in the top box with a blank foundation frame between each one. I replaced them with blank foundation below. I did this on both hives. I'm hoping this will get the workers to draw out more foundation for their queens.

Do I still need to split the carniolan hive to prevent a swarm, or is the one group of 3 queen cells with larva not enough to worry about?

The two hives are also in my backyard where I can see them every day, and would hopefully be able to catch a swarm, if they do.

Thanks for any help!

Misty
 

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MistyZ sezs:
Today I found a few scattered empty queen cells (4 or 5) in the carniolan hive, along with a group of 3 queen cells at the bottom of one frame, two of which have fat white uncapped larva in them.
tecumseh replies:
It is very common to have queen cell cups (no eggs or larvae) scatter throughout the hive. The presence of queen cell cups + eggs or larvae mean either the hive is fixing to swarm or supersedure of the existing queen is about to take place. So the first and second question are: 1)was the hive crowded for space in the recent past and 2) is the queen laying at an acceptable rate (is there good numbers and all ages of brood)? 1 would indicate swarming and a no to numero twoo would suggest supersedure.
But then MistyZ adds:
So, I pulled up 4 frames, (2 brood and 2 honey) put them in the top box with a blank foundation frame between each one. I replaced them with blank foundation below. I did this on both hives. I'm hoping this will get the workers to draw out more foundation for their queens.
tecumseh replies:
Personally I would never split up brood frames (especially very young brood) with either frames of honey and most certainly not with new foundation. This is something that "can" create the condition where the nurse bees on an isolated frame suddenly believe themselves queenless and begin building queen cells. This is then in fact an exception to number 1 and 2 above.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sigh. I guess now I'm confused. I thought breaking up the brood nest would help prevent swarming, and spacing plain foundation between some of the frames would encourage the workers to draw it out and give the queen more room to lay.

Now I don't know if I should
1. Just leave it and see what happens. The bees aren't going to appreciate all my inexperienced meddling.
2. Pull the empty frames out from between the brood and honey frames and move the empties to the outer positions in both boxes -- but leave the 4 full frames up in the second box, just pushed together in the center.
3. Or try to put it back the way it was in the first place (all full frames back down in the first box).

Any advice?

Misty
 

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"Scattered" queen cells I usually don't worry about...ones on the bottoms of frames I do. I cut all queen cells, but check much closer on the bottoms of frames.

Moving frames as you did, along with cutting queen cells is what I would do in your position.

BubbaBob
 

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>Today I found a few scattered empty queen cells (4 or 5) in the carniolan hive

The empty ones are irelevant.

> along with a group of 3 queen cells at the bottom of one frame, two of which have fat white uncapped larva in them.

These are important.

>My second hive (the italians) only had 3 or 4 scattered empty queen cells in it -- no larva.

I wouldn't worry about that.

>So, I pulled up 4 frames, (2 brood and 2 honey) put them in the top box with a blank foundation frame between each one. I replaced them with blank foundation below. I did this on both hives. I'm hoping this will get the workers to draw out more foundation for their queens.

If the hive is strong this isn't a problem. Capped brood is probably better to move up because it doesn't require as warm of temps and as much car, but they will do fine if there are lots of bees. And now there is some room in the brood nest. But this is unlikely to stop a hive that already has swarm cells built with larvae in them from swarming. Once they've reached this point they are most likely going to swarm.

>Do I still need to split the carniolan hive to prevent a swarm, or is the one group of 3 queen cells with larva not enough to worry about?

ONE swarm cell is all it takes for them to swarm.

>The two hives are also in my backyard where I can see them every day, and would hopefully be able to catch a swarm, if they do.

Most swarms sneak off unseen, unless you are watching them from sun up to sun down.

I would split the one with the swarm cells and combine back later. I wouldn't worry about the one with the empty cups. I've never found it helpful to cut out queen cells. They sometimes swarm anyway and they end up queenless or they build more cells and then swarm.
 

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So Misty, you basically have two different opinions on checkerboarding. Some would never split the brood nest, and some like the way you did it. I'm with you if the weather stays hot and you have a ton of bees. You did say that some of the queen cells are on the bottoms of the frames. Once you see that they're gonna swarm. Sometimes if you split, they'll think they have swarmed. Sometimes they'll do it anyway.

Hawk
 

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>So Misty, you basically have two different opinions on checkerboarding.

I don't want to be picky, and some others are starting to use this term in this way too. But so we are all communicating the same things, I'd prefer not to use the term "checkerboarding" for this manipulation, since Walt Wright has already given that name to putting nectar or empty frames between capped frames in the supers. If we start using it to also describe putting empty frames in a brood nest to open it up, then it becomes an ambigiuous term our meaning gets obscured.

I've always just called it "opening up the brood nest". If anyone has a better suggestions I'd be interested in hearing it.
 

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Misty, just from my experience this spring, I think I'd go ahead and do the split as Michael suggested. I had the same problem and tried the frame gymnastics, but it seemed that once they get the urge to swarm, it's gonna happen. I may just not have enough experience yet, but splitting seems to work better. You can combine them back later, or just enjoy taking care of a third hive.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for all the tips! I just started the overnight split -- 3 frames, including the one with 3 queen cells, in an extra box over the top of a queen excluder, since I can't find the queen in all the bees. I'll pull the box off in the morning and put it on a new bottom board.

If I put it next door to the original hive, will that be a problem?

I'm assuming I'll mostly have nurse bees who haven't flown and oriented much yet, not foragers, so they would be fine. I'm planning on needing to feed them some syrup too.

When I recombine, do I have to find and kill one queen or just put the boxes together and let them fight it out?

I'm hoping I haven't messed this hive up too much by moving the brood everywhere. But that's what my first year is for -- learning.

Thanks a ton for all the advice!!


Misty
 

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I have 3 hives side by side but that being said, there is something different about each. One has a telescoping top, the second has a garden top, and the third is turned about 45 degrees from the other two and on it's own stand. I also used the widest opening on the entrance reducers for the 2 hives side by side, with the opening on the left on one and the opening on the right on the other. The differences seemed to be enough that I had very little drifting.
As far as the combine I did, I didn't kill the queen. After they chewed through the paper, I let the bees take care of it on their own. I don't know if that was the best choice, but it seemed natural.
 

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MistyZ sez:
I'm hoping I haven't messed this hive up too much by moving the brood everywhere. But that's what my first year is for -- learning.

tecumseh replies:
I think you are doing just fine and at least seem to be moving along in a pretty positive direction MistyZ. To moi, you seem to not be to terrible stumped by problems (large or small). And as to learning- even after 4+ decades there is something new to learn almost every day that you spend with the girls. Wish you luck....
 
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