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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'll describe what I've been doing. You tell me how to change it. Upstate NY.

Winter: double deeps

March 15: reverse hive bodies, make sure there's empty space above brood area

April 1: reverse hive bodies again if needed, make sure there's empty space above brood area

April 15: take a 5-frame nuc with queen out of every colony, replace with empty drawn frames, cut queen cells if necessary, install a new queen in the original colony

May 1: check for queen acceptance (eggs), cut out lots of queen cells in pretty much every colony

May 7: discover that I must have missed a cell because my bees are in the trees

My flow starts in early May.

The only thing I can think of is to do all of this earlier. I need to reverse in February and take a nuc out in March I think. By April they are dead set on swarming and I'll never stop it. But it's hard to find queens that early, and most days in March it's too cold to do much bee work.

I just did the May 1 step and yup, capped queen cells everywhere. My new queens were accepted but will be in the trees any day now. Even if I got every cell, there will be more cells.

Might I be able to stop them by taking yet another 5 frames of brood out to make more nucs? Seems crazy to take two splits by May 1 but I'm at wits end.

Other ideas?
 

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I'll describe what I've been doing. You tell me how to change it. Upstate NY.

Winter: double deeps

March 15: reverse hive bodies, make sure there's empty space above brood area

April 1: reverse hive bodies again if needed, make sure there's empty space above brood area

April 15: take a 5-frame nuc with queen out of every colony, replace with empty drawn frames, cut queen cells if necessary, install a new queen in the original colony

May 1: check for queen acceptance (eggs), cut out lots of queen cells in pretty much every colony

May 7: discover that I must have missed a cell because my bees are in the trees

My flow starts in early May.

The only thing I can think of is to do all of this earlier. I need to reverse in February and take a nuc out in March I think. By April they are dead set on swarming and I'll never stop it. But it's hard to find queens that early, and most days in March it's too cold to do much bee work.

I just did the May 1 step and yup, capped queen cells everywhere. My new queens were accepted but will be in the trees any day now. Even if I got every cell, there will be more cells.

Might I be able to stop them by taking yet another 5 frames of brood out to make more nucs? Seems crazy to take two splits by May 1 but I'm at wits end.

Other ideas?
MTC
Super at the start of maple bloom with drawn comb. If the colony has a large population put on 2 drawn medium supers.
(I use queen excluders so I'd put those early super(s) over a QE. Check during the late winter when maple is blooming that the bees are moving through the QE, If not bait them up.)
Then perform your regular spring management, but I'd bet you wont have to reverse more than once if at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Maples start mid-March. It's true that I haven't been supering that early, figuring that what mattered was space around and above the broodnest. I'll definitely try that next year.

But ouch. That means spring mite treatments will need to start in late January to be out by the time supers are on. I've been doing everything way too late.
 

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Maples start mid-March. It's true that I haven't been supering that early, figuring that what mattered was space around and above the broodnest. I'll definitely try that next year.

But ouch. That means spring mite treatments will need to start in late January to be out by the time supers are on. I've been doing everything way too late.
When you said 'upstate' I was thinking that you were a lot further north than you are, and that your weather would be more like mine...but I see that you are hundreds of miles south of me.

But still...mite treatments in Jan? Is it warm enough at that time of year for you? What are you using?

Other thoughts, as previously noted, too much reversing, I think.

I don't try to cull swarm cells- if they have got that far then I force the swarm on my terms- split the queen out into a new box, and depending on how many swarm cells there are I'll leave 2-3 in the original hive, and any frames with extras go in nuc boxes with bees and 1 or 2 frames of honey. That way I get extra queens to have on-hand if I need them.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
No, it is not warm enough in Jan to put in mite treatments. That's why supering in mid-March would be challenging for me.

Sounds like your suggestion is basically to make another round of splits in the colonies with cells. Is it common to remove two nucs by May 1?
 

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Sounds like you need to rethink your treatment routines and product choices.
BTW, How do you determine they need a treatment in late winter?

As a stationary honey producer I could not make a crop by pulling nucs as my swarm control method. I need large healthy bees coming out of winter and into spring to collect the crop. Pulling bees as a regular control method defeats that purpose.
Sure I need to keep them in the boxes but there are lots of methods to do so and it starts early and includes treatments as well as the hives' wooden ware configuration as well as what is in the boxes, where it is and when. Pre bloom in the late winter the nest could be constricted due to left over winter feed for example and the bees could be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In my apiaries I manage them to be healthy in the fall time frame as I believe it's the fall that determines the health of the colony in late winter and spring.
Your goals may be different than mine are, but unless it is to make nucs every spring the method you're using to control swarming is setting the bees back for pretty much everything else.

There are previous discussions you can search for that describe other ways to keep them in the boxes in spring and how to prepare them in fall to come out in the spring without the need for a lengthy late winter mite treatment. I'll see if I can dig some up and post the threads.
 

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Wow. I can't believe you do all that, including requeening every year and still have early swarms. Are you raising your own queens? If so, you have swarmy stock and are perpetuating it. If you purchase queens, look for non-swarmy stock from a different supplier.
You might want to try the OSBN method of swarm control. There is a sticky about it. Super earlier. J
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Fivej -- I requeen with purchased queens in the spring, but many end up in the trees, some before they've hardly laid an egg, so by the next spring maybe I have swarmy genetics again, I don't know. I'm familiar with OSBN but I'm not excited about cutting holes in frames, and also I think many commercial beekeepers are successful without it, so I suspect my mistake is more basic somehow. Whatever I do -- OSBN, splits, supering, whatever -- it needs to happen before the cells are started in early April, but at that point it's too cold most days.

clyderoad -- I do not want increase, as I have approximately no losses and limited space. The creation of nucs is just a desperation move to try to prevent swarming.

Swarming is my only beekeeping issue. There's so much talk about diseases and ventilation and starvation and insulation and blah blah. As far as I can tell, all that stuff is almost trivially easy. Swarm prevention, on the other hand, is impossible. I do what various resources suggest, and it just doesn't work.

Next year I'm thinking I'll try something earlier and more drastic -- splitting and supering and requeening in March, then splitting again in April, that kind of thing. It seems like no one else has to do that, but for some reason I do.
 

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I feel your pain. I have a good handle on things, except swarming. But, it is usually my negligence, comes much later, and I am not half as vigilant as you are. One additional thought are you feeding pollen in late winter? Also, is there a benefit to requeening in the fall rather than Spring? I have no idea, but know it is more common to do in the fall. Just thinking out loud that maybe you are misinterpreting what is happening. Could the requeening be triggering this. Something isn't right, but not sure what. Not enough experience to put my finger on it. Almost like you are triggering supercedure and cast swarms. J
 

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"I requeen with purchased queens in the spring, but many end up in the trees, some before they've hardly laid an egg,"
The swarms contain the purchased queen? if not what happens to the purchased queen?
Either way, any attempt to control swarming has long past by the sounds of it.

I replace weak queens during the early part of the flow, others get replaced just after it ends for me late July before dearth.

The timing of your procedures seems to be off and causing the issue.
 

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5 ,8 ,10 frame, and long Lang
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your process seems odd to me.
why put the "$$" queen in with the potential swarm 1/2

I would pull 1/2 the brood and give a new queen to them, on a new location. verify you do not have the old queen.
then your new queen you bought is not in the trees and your old one in a NUC.

just before the flow, pull some more brood from the old queen maybe 3 frames, and add it to the new Queen for the flow.
or sell a NUC from the old queen and add the rest back for the second deep on the new queen.

HOW long do you wait, to intro the queen? if they start the QCs and then you offer a queen they rarely tear them down on their own.

try different bees?

GG
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
clyderoad -- Yeah sometimes the swarm has the purchased queen. You think requeening mid-April is the issue and I should switch to summer? I feel like I've heard the opposite, that young queens are less likely to swarm? Plus a few hives have cells before I do my requeening. I try not to give them queens and just let them do their thing.

Gray Goose -- I guess every year I'm optimistic that I can prevent swarming by giving space and requeening well before the flow. Plus, nucs can swarm too. The queens I'm buying are italian and used by many commercial operations without issue. I left them queenless for about 18 hours before installing the cages.
 

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I reverse boxes very seldom because heat rises and I want my bees population to build up. I see the first blooming fruit tree today and I will start putting supers on over an excluder before a honey rim forms at the top of brood frames. Any colony of bees will swarm if they run out of room. Remember that a colony needs two boxes of cells to dehydrate the honey to fill one box of capped honey. When they run out of that room in the supers they start backfilling the brood box and then guess what going to happen! Second year queens are almost automatically going to swarm unless you take her and a couple frames of brood as a swarm or pinch her and requeen. I am not big on pinching a success story to introduce an untested stranger to my hive.
 

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Reversing didn't help for me either. That's one of reasons I started doing OSBN.

With OSBN, put the Inner Cover in-between the Brood Box and the new Super, so as to maintain the same volume for the bees to heat. They will rob out the frames above the Inner Cover during the day when it is warmer. They don't consider those frames above it as part of the Brood Nest. Once the temperatures warm up and the bees start using the Super, you can then move the Inner Cover back to the top.

You can also do OSBN with only empty drawn comb.
Or initially just start with one partial frame of foundation.
 

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clyderoad -- Yeah sometimes the swarm has the purchased queen. You think requeening mid-April is the issue and I should switch to summer? I feel like I've heard the opposite, that young queens are less likely to swarm? Plus a few hives have cells before I do my requeening. I try not to give them queens and just let them do their thing.

Gray Goose -- I guess every year I'm optimistic that I can prevent swarming by giving space and requeening well before the flow. Plus, nucs can swarm too. The queens I'm buying are italian and used by many commercial operations without issue. I left them queenless for about 18 hours before installing the cages.
Young queens IMO are less likely to swarm, more queen pheromones on average than older queens. A colony requeened in July has a queen that is not yet 9 months old the next March, which is when your colonies are getting the idea to swarm, so called impulse. That California or Florida queen is over a year old at that point. But I think the queen issue is a minor one in this case. Many good queens with proper management don't swarm their second year. The cause lies elsewhere. I'd look more closely at management and particularly timing.
I mentioned "timing" a couple of times during our discussion so far and I need to expand on what I mean by that. It seems to me that the calendar schedule of management for swarm control that you keep does not address the needs of the bees.
Swarm control is complicated and I don't profess to be the expert. It involves a few variables though that can be manipulated by the beekeeper to avoid the colony getting the impulse to swarm. These manipulations need to be done early, some the fall before (like not having so much winter feed in the hive come spring that the bees start off with a plugged out brood nest), others in early spring with a eye towards the conditions that just past (like a mild winter, or abnormally early warm start to spring).
Some things I pay attention to year round- like queen performance and age.
In the spring I concentrate on things with an eye towards working with the bees and using manipulations that serve my purposes also, like successful swarm control. All done well before the flow and any spring expansion has started in earnest. Done just before the flow is to late.
I look at age of comb and condition, like excess drone comb or old brood comb gets pulled and a few undrawn frames get inserted yearly for the bees to work on - bees like to work. I look to see where the bees are nesting in the brood box and what is open above and around them, yeah I reverse those that need it between near end of maple bloom and right at start of dandelion. I make sure the brood nest does not get honey bound or void of empty comb in spring, remove honey bound frames in the brood box early replace with drawn or undrawn frames placed between two frames of brood- not unlike spreading the brood nest. As I mention earlier I need strong colonies for my honey production but those same strong colonies do things within the hive that weak colonies do not, namely expand rapidly and easily, up through the queen excluder and into the super to start working on them early which keeps the brood nest open. That leads to early supering, on maple bloom.
My treatment schedule is worked into my management routine that is determined by the bees, not the other way around. I rarely treat in spring other than a 1 or 2 shot of OA vapor in February so rarely apivar unless absolutely necessary and if a colony has a mite issue that calls for a treatment that requires a long treatment time frame to use, hive gets pulled out of honey production and used for resources.
So many manipulations are intertwined that it's nearly impossible to choose one and expect it to remedy any issue alone. Even hive placement, full sun or shade, or air flow come into pay. As do ill timed manipulations or predator pressure.
Hope I helped some.
 

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clyderoad -- Yeah sometimes the swarm has the purchased queen. You think requeening mid-April is the issue and I should switch to summer? I feel like I've heard the opposite, that young queens are less likely to swarm? Plus a few hives have cells before I do my requeening. I try not to give them queens and just let them do their thing.
I don't think the 'young queen' thing always holds true, as last year I had three nucs with brand new queens go from nuc to swarm in under six weeks.

Gray Goose -- I guess every year I'm optimistic that I can prevent swarming by giving space and requeening well before the flow. Plus, nucs can swarm too. The queens I'm buying are italian and used by many commercial operations without issue. I left them queenless for about 18 hours before installing the cages.
Maybe Carni queens would work out better for you?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Clyde -- Yeah, I think my issue is something along the lines of things someone would have to look at my colony to help me with. You want colonies big but not too big. You want them to go into winter with some honey stores but not too much. It's like those plastic doodads that ask you to press "firmly but gently" on something -- how hard is that exactly?

Possible mistakes:
  • I did feed half a pound of pollen in late March.
  • I also fed something like 1/4 to 1/2 a gallon of syrup to aid in queen acceptance (but I thought there was space).
  • I'm just getting supers on today.

Whatever my mistakes were, they were mostly made in February and March I think, because some colonies had queen cells on April 15.

Today I'll be supering, cutting cells, moving some capped brood frames above the excluder, maybe pulling out another nuc here or there -- who knows what kind of shenanigans. But realistically I already blew it for this year.

That being said, despite pretty much every colony swarming on me at least once every year, I still get a decent honey crop, about one deep super per colony. I just don't like the swarms.
 

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Clyde -- Yeah, I think my issue is something along the lines of things someone would have to look at my colony to help me with. You want colonies big but not too big. You want them to go into winter with some honey stores but not too much. It's like those plastic doodads that ask you to press "firmly but gently" on something -- how hard is that exactly?

Possible mistakes:
  • I did feed half a pound of pollen in late March.
  • I also fed something like 1/4 to 1/2 a gallon of syrup to aid in queen acceptance (but I thought there was space).
  • I'm just getting supers on today.

Whatever my mistakes were, they were mostly made in February and March I think, because some colonies had queen cells on April 15.

Today I'll be supering, cutting cells, moving some capped brood frames above the excluder, maybe pulling out another nuc here or there -- who knows what kind of shenanigans. But realistically I already blew it for this year.

That being said, despite pretty much every colony swarming on me at least once every year, I still get a decent honey crop, about one deep super per colony. I just don't like the swarms.
No, you haven't blown it for this year. The year is young and just starting.

Take a look a what VanceG wrote in another thread. It is a very good split/swarm prevention method that may help you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I've done similar things in the past.

One of my nucs had made queen cells even though they're a 5-frame nuc made two weeks ago in a 10-frame box with empty drawn comb taking up the remaining 5 frames. I don't understand. Many of those empty drawn frames we're still empty. Queen was laying a good pattern and there were lots of bees.

Something must be wrong. If a colony like that wants to swarm I have no hope.
 

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I've done similar things in the past.

One of my nucs had made queen cells even though they're a 5-frame nuc made two weeks ago in a 10-frame box with empty drawn comb taking up the remaining 5 frames. I don't understand. Many of those empty drawn frames we're still empty. Queen was laying a good pattern and there were lots of bees.

Something must be wrong. If a colony like that wants to swarm I have no hope.
I assume it is one of the purchased queens sent to you via mail.
The bees think something is wrong with the queen and proceed to replace her. Most times nothing is wrong except the fact that she is off lay, skinny, due to shipping and caged time and the bees sense that. The bees to populate the nuc may come from a pheromone filled hive taken to prevent a swarm. Quite a change in environment.

I've noticed that if the bees start replacement queen cells early on in the introduction of the new queen, and then the queen comes into laying regularly and up to speed, the bees will finish the earlier started cells anyway. Check the pattern of the new queen after 10 days and if satisfactory cut out all the capped or nearly capped queen cells. This is not out of the ordinary.

These are not swarm cells as was the original topic.
 
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