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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It was from one of the hives I removed a nuc from about a month ago. I had also added a super of drawn comb, and then moved some of that comb into the brood nest while moving capped brood frames above the excluder.

Note to self: Remove *2* nucs from each hive before ~April 15. I don't want increase, but don't know how else to get more drastic.
 

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Sounds like you made the right moves, but maybe a little late. If you don't want to increase, read up on the use of snelgrove boards and OSBN (opening sides of brood nest). J
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks. Yeah, I've read those, but haven't gotten good at putting them into practice. I tend to do a fairly haphazard mix of checkerboarding (lots of drawn empty frames above the brood nest, not necessarily perfectly alternating) and OSBN (lots of space around the sides of the brood nest, but I don't cut holes in frames).

I'm surprised that this early in the year 3 deep 10-frame boxes of drawn frames isn't enough space, even after removing a nuc in early April. I can try doing things earlier but that means March when the average high is 45 degrees and we get over a foot of snow.

When I started beekeeping I thought varroa would be the big issue, followed by nosema, EFB, AFB, starvation, and cold/wet winters. Boy was I wrong! Those things are a piece of cake. The big issues are swarms and queens.

People say queen cups (not cells) aren't a sign of swarming, but I've never had a hive build cups and then not turn them into cells. People say drones are good, and not a sign of impending swarm, but I've never had a hive create a lot of drones and then not swarm. People say bearding isn't a sign of impending swarm, but again, I've never seen a big beard hanging off a hive not lead to a swarm within a month. The only hives I've had not swarm only had enough bees to cover 10 or fewer frames. Past that, they always swarm, no matter how many empty drawn combs they have all over the place. (Ok, my one Olivarez queen covered 20 or 30 frames before swarming, but that's just one exception out of ten or twenty colonies.)

I know most other people's experiences are different, so I must be doing something wrong, but I haven't figured out what yet.

I also don't understand beekeepers who regularly buy bees (other than queens). I could sell twice as many nucs as I have hives every year, no problem. It's all I can do to *prevent* increase. Honestly, if I put in the work to sell all those nucs I'd probably end up with more honey because I wouldn't have all these darn swarms. How do people end up with fewer bees than they started with? Mine grow like kudzu! I've already got twice as many hives as I overwintered this year, not even counting the ones in the trees.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Second swarm just now.

Next year I'll try splitting and requeening in late February, before the snow melts.

I suspect genetics may be part of my issue but it's hard to find a window of time when I can requeen. They're always either building queen cells (on otherwise empty drawn comb), or they've just swarmed and have virgins running around.
 

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I am still struggling in preventing swarms and it happens to experienced beekeepers. I agree, it it by far the most challenging aspect of beekeeping. I would suggest you try cutting the foundation to open the brood nest. Splitting in Feb/March is way too early where you are located. If you want to try requeening, do it in the Fall. J
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
One of the hives that previously swarmed issued another swarm today. So that's one nuc removed and two swarms by May 10! And they had more capped queen cells, presumably preparing for a third swarm.

I inspected my 5 hives and most of them have few or no eggs/larvae, tons of empty drawn comb, and lots of queen cells. With so much space -- way over half of their 3 10-frame deeps of drawn comb is completely empty -- why are they making queen cells? It's not just supercedure because at least one of these colonies has a brand new laying queen that I saw today, and I've got bees in the trees from many of them. I destroyed all the queen cells I could find but I'm guessing I'm going to have a lot more swarms anyway, from 75% empty hives.

I feel like these bees are so swarmy they can't be requeened with less swarmy stock. Any new queen just ends up in the trees, and then they make their own swarmy queen again. How do you requeen a continually swarming hive?

I feel like something is deeply wrong here. In all the videos I see on Youtube (Ian Steppler's, for example) there are hives just packed with bees, very little empty drawn comb, and yet no swarm cells. I've watched and read so much advice but can't figure out what they're doing differently. Giving the bees space has nothing to do with swarming, as far as I can tell. If there's a warm sunny day, they swarm regardless. I can't imagine how they could have more space -- I don't think there are two brood/honey frames touching anywhere. What else causes swarming?
 

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I am also finding many capped queen cells this year. Have 18 hives and about half are in swarm mode. Had one go up on a practice run
and retreated back to the hive. For this time of year there are tons of bees in all the hives. I run 2 deep brood boxes and have already
added 2 medium supers to most hives.

I have 3 snelgrove boards installed on the largest hives. So far so good, even the one doing a practice run. It certainly is a challenge to keep
them out of the trees. Will install more snelgroves this week and see what happens.
 

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I suggest changing your genetics in the hives.
Use queens from a reputable breeder who uses less swarming impulse as one criteria of choosing queen mothers. Requeening is much easier when the hive wants and needs a new queen, so make them hopelessly queenless when introducing new queens.
 
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