I've got 4 hives this year that made it through the winter. Had 5, one died out, bought 3 new packages, 2 hives swarmed but I was able to catch 2 swarms so now I have 9 hives in total. Of the 4 old hives (2 10 frame deeps), I put on a QE, then a 3/4" x 3/4" spacer with a 3/8" x 1" groove (Imrie spacer?) and a super of drawn comb super and a super of empty foundation as I didn't have enough drawn comb from last year to put on 2 boxes of drawn comb on each hive. I don't think the honey flow has started here yet; probably about 2 weeks off maybe. Zone 7b, Eastern Shore, MD.
A) How do I get the bees to start using the top entrance? I was going to wait until night, block off the entrance and get them to find their way out the top entrance and after a day or two, open up the bottom entrance again. So far, I only see about 20-50 bees guarding the top entrance above the QE. These hive a jam packed with bees and brood; I've also rotated the brood nest as well.
B) For the supers, should I just split up the drawn comb I have between the hives that I don't think have swarmed and put on empty foundation on the hives that I know swarmed or should I leave them they way I have them, one box drawn comb, one box empty foundation?
C) Should I use one or two of the caught swarm hives to build more super comb and then combine them at the end of the year for a strong hive next year.
I want about 10 hives in total and I see that doing splits and other swarm control methods, one can have a LOT of hive quickly!!!
One hive I know swarmed, it was the only hive in that location and the swarm was ~60' from the hive...the bee inspector also noted it would swarm when he inspected. The second hive I actually SAW swarm. The day I got my 3 packages and went to hive them, I entered the bee yard just as a massive amount of bees were hovering in front of one hive...they went to a tree about 40' away and I was able to get a box and catch them. I hived them in a box that I had put in the drawn brood frames from the dead hive. They are building up FAST.
Thanks to all!