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Hi, Very frustrated and discouraged today. Seems no matter how much time I put in my bees, I get the same result

2012: started beekeeping, lost a couple of queens over the season (probably bumped or rolled them), got a little bit of honey. Ended the season with 5 hives total

2013 All made it through the winter, decided to be a little more hands off, and that I had been in my hives too much the year before causing queen losses. Well, this approach didn't work, I added supers, flipped deeps and every hive swarmed except one and swarmed multiple times. I ended the season with 10 hives and about 5 gallons of honey.

2014: Was thrilled I only lost one nuc that was started in August. Thought this was great given the winter. I was now going to get it right this year!!! Because after all, I am a veteran beekeeper now!!!! (ha). I pulled my good queens from the hives around the first of May, erroneously thinking this would prevent swarming, flipped the deeps, added slatted bottom boards. Well, my biggest hive failed to requeen, then failed again and now has laying workers. Most of the other hives returned to swarm mode within a week or two of their new queens starting to lay. So I pulled those new queens. Now I have a mess. I got in two hives today that had not swarmed yet and found a virgin and about 10 qc's hatched out or destroyed. The other hive has capped queen cells and no queen. So of my big hives now I have 1 with laying workers, 1 with a virgin, 1 with queen cells, 4 queen right double deeps, 1 queen right single deep, 2 nucs from queens I pulled, 2 populous nucs I am letting requeen because they both had 3 year old queens in the hives and a retirement queen apartment for my 2, 3 year old queens on one frame of comb.

I know the "big boys" cant be messing with their hives this much, I am spending a TON of time and now feel like I have nothing to show for it. I should have just let them swarm this May. Now I feel like it's too late in the year to get these guys in good shape again. Is this normal learning curve???? Very frustrated. Thanks for any advice. Todd
 

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Dr Todd, I sent you a PM to offer my help, let me know if you want to discuss the topic further.
 

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You had great winter successes. In my limited experience, you have made it if you can pull those types of results. Keep in mind - bees swarm because they are healthy and are able to reproduce. It sucks for us as humans, but a sign that you are doing a lot of things right where they CAN swarm. I hope to have your problems in a couple years.

Only advice I can offer is look to do a couple combines where it makes sense to get things back on track can bring a little sanity back into the equation. Too many hives, too many problems = headaches and more problems. Cut down on the management overhead by removing problematic hives and focus on a couple strong hives.

Good luck - the community is here for ya.
 

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These bugs can make us all doubt ourselves from time to time. Sounds like you've got a handle on making increase and overwintering, now you need to figure out swarm control and honey production. Lots of help available here. Good luck!
 

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Sounds like you have made too much progress to get discouraged now, you're down to learning swarm control and like others have said all in all you're doing great, many new beeks are still in the " how do I keep them alive " stage. Hang in there.
 

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Bees swarm when they have plenty of honey and lots of bees, so you are doing that part right.

Don't feel bad, I lost a swarm this spring, and appear to have lost two last year because I thought I knew what I was doing and didn't. It takes a couple times 'round to figure it all out.

If you have healthy hives coming through winter well, you have the "get them to survive and proper" part right. Next year do some more work on preventing swarming.

And don't forget that you are going to have problem hives no matter what you do, it's part of beekeeping. I'm not so sure removing queens is going to do all that much to prevent swarming, they will have the hive prepped to go and leave as soon as they have a queen. I suspect you need to convince them that they are NOT prepared to swarm to keep them in the hive.

Peter
 

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1. Put the bees in the box.
2. Check to see if they are queen right
3. Feed as necessary
4. Put on boxes as needed (don't be late)
5. Medicate appropriately.

Otherwise:
6. Stay the heck out of the way. Every time you open the lid you throw them off of their current task at hand.
7. Repeat as appropriate. :pinch:

From the calls I have been getting from the upper east coast its been a banner year. I personally would not pass up on an opportunity to trade locations from what I've heard. Not unusual after a hard winter. Had a queen customer from central NY that said he already extracted 36 gallons this year from some of our 2013 queens as of two weeks back.

Sitting here in the California drought with a wildfire of 7000 acres burning just 10 miles away. Sucking smoke that is not from the end of a smoker is not so fun.
 

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Thanks everyone for the kuddos! Just got some good ideas for next year. Got to get past seeing combining as a defeat or spending too much time on a doomed hive when I have a nuc that would be happy to have their real estate_! Thanks again!!p
 

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I'm also interested in your new plan moving forward. Would like to hear your thoughts.

Based on the information in the original post I would guess that you might need more drawn comb to insert into the brood nest during swarm season to slow their swarm preparations, keep the queen laying, and prevent backfilling. Reversing will help, but it can take more than that sometimes to stop them from swarming.
 

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Thanks everyone for the kuddos! Just got some good ideas for next year. Got to get past seeing combining as a defeat or spending too much time on a doomed hive when I have a nuc that would be happy to have their real estate_! Thanks again!!p
It took me awhile to get to this point on the learning curve but once I did it got better I think.
While I have problem hives that don't make surplus honey I don't have to buy bees every year so I must be moving around the curve a little. I still have a long way to go!

I've lost/killed lots of hives. But every time I lose one I try to learn something from it. For one thing I never let one die anymore. If one starts going downhill I combine or shake it out and start a nuc in their equipment.

Bees are easy to get/make. Equipment is expensive!
 

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Drtoddh - You are clearly learning a lot and making good progress. The first couple of springs with overwintered bees are always challenging when it comes to swarm prevention, but even though it gets better as you get more resources to work with I suspect that the ultimate lesson is that no matter what we do swarms happen. The important thing is to have an effective plan to detect and correct any hives that don't requeen. And don't worry about it too much. The honey will come.
 

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One thing I did different and prevented swarming was I did not allow the queenless part of the colony to requeen. all cells where removed.

In my case I attempted to rear all of those queens form the cells.

My numbers where 13 full size hives and 10 nucs in January. These when made queenless or attempting to swarm produced 249 cells we also grafted 32 more cells.

Only two hives swarmed due to us loosing track of where they where in making cells. they where weaker colonies that we did not expect to try and swarm. Lesson learned was do not wait for the bes to start cells before removing the queen.

As for all those cells. we had a poor emergence rate with more than 40% of those virgins never even emerging. Of those that did we lost nearly every virgin introduced to a mating compartment of the first two weeks. in the end we produced somewhere around 60 to 70 queens in all some sold as virgins others sold as mated queens and some sold as nucs. We had also increased for 23 colonies to 52.

As we sold mated queens form nucs those nucs once again made queen cells. they once again have not been left to keep them all cells where slit up among mating compartments. we will start seeing the results of that mating attempt on Wednesday. 82 cells in this case and so far I know 7 of them have been lost. Indications so far look like we will get 60 or more queens from this attempt.

One real neat thing was yesterday I got to see a queen leave on her mating flight and return to the colony. the flight took 26 minutes from the time she left until she returned.

As for you. I suggest just one small correction. do not let the bees requeen themselves. at the very lest split the queenless bees up and give them a number of chances to requeen rather than just one.
 

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There is the information on swarm prevention that came out in march I believe. And other useful information too on the Cookville site. It helped me but I still had a hive swarm though. I also liked the info on raising queens etc.
 

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I am one year behind you. My curve is two slopes up and one back. My bees keep me humble.

you now have more hives, more honey and greater expectations than when you started.

my take is the experienced folk know when and where to expend their energy. The less experienced seem to either remain in ignorant bliss or try to micromanage everything and as a result cause a melt down for themselves and the bees:)

I try to look at it as a learning curve and as I have no mentor or other beeks to guide me I am so grateful to this forum.

hopefully responses will be public so all can benefit.

Hi, Very frustrated and discouraged today. Seems no matter how much time I put in my bees, I get the same result

2012: started beekeeping, lost a couple of queens over the season (probably bumped or rolled them), got a little bit of honey. Ended the season with 5 hives total

2013 All made it through the winter, decided to be a little more hands off, and that I had been in my hives too much the year before causing queen losses. Well, this approach didn't work, I added supers, flipped deeps and every hive swarmed except one and swarmed multiple times. I ended the season with 10 hives and about 5 gallons of honey.

2014: Was thrilled I only lost one nuc that was started in August. Thought this was great given the winter. I was now going to get it right this year!!! Because after all, I am a veteran beekeeper now!!!! (ha). I pulled my good queens from the hives around the first of May, erroneously thinking this would prevent swarming, flipped the deeps, added slatted bottom boards. Well, my biggest hive failed to requeen, then failed again and now has laying workers. Most of the other hives returned to swarm mode within a week or two of their new queens starting to lay. So I pulled those new queens. Now I have a mess. I got in two hives today that had not swarmed yet and found a virgin and about 10 qc's hatched out or destroyed. The other hive has capped queen cells and no queen. So of my big hives now I have 1 with laying workers, 1 with a virgin, 1 with queen cells, 4 queen right double deeps, 1 queen right single deep, 2 nucs from queens I pulled, 2 populous nucs I am letting requeen because they both had 3 year old queens in the hives and a retirement queen apartment for my 2, 3 year old queens on one frame of comb.

I know the "big boys" cant be messing with their hives this much, I am spending a TON of time and now feel like I have nothing to show for it. I should have just let them swarm this May. Now I feel like it's too late in the year to get these guys in good shape again. Is this normal learning curve???? Very frustrated. Thanks for any advice. Todd
 
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