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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a new beekeeper with a TBH that was started the end of May. The bees have done very well, but appear to have swarmed in the past three days, I'm told probably due to getting honey bound. The hive is half full of comb, but there are 5 bars of honey that are connected and cannot be separated without breaking them. We had a stretch of very hot weather (up to 108-110) and my hive in is partial shade, with no collapsed comb, except sadly what was caused by me. There was a lot of bearding in the hot weather, until the heat wave broke, when I noticed dramatically reduced numbers going in and out of the hive.

My questions: 1. Should I harvest any combs of honey that are connected, or leave them to the bees, and see how the hive is in the spring? I've been advised both ways and am not sure which is the best approach. 2. Given the time of year, should I let the bees rear a new queen, or order another queen right away? There were queen cells and capped drone in the hive.

A bit of info if it helps: I last inspected the hive 3 weeks ago, and then two days ago after our hot weather broke as I was concerned the bees had swarmed. I made a mess in the hive, breaking honeycomb and one comb of capped brood, which I reattached as best I could, and placed it near the other brood comb. I've obviously made several mistakes, including the spacing of bars, which I will certainly do differently in the future! I'm in zone 6, and we usually get our first frost in October, occasionally as early as September. I called the manufacturer of the hive and was told that they have changed the dimensions of their bars, due to this scenario not being unusual; they advised leaving the hive as is until spring.

Thanks for advice anyone has.
 

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I didn't give the queen enough spaces up front last year either.My first package of bees from mid April,last year,swarmed mid June, leaving less than a package size population (very sad for me At First) but plenty of brood. They are "fast" Carniolans and had fully repopulated by late Fall,having made a Great daughter-queen right away and they reduced for winter making lots of honey in the back (actually I had to move bars to get them in order in the Fall;as I had brood both front and back between inspections with honey in the middle),then they overwintered!

I'm only second year now,with 3 hives and a nuc (one hive and nuc from splits off the hive I mentioned;the other hive a new package this year). From what I've read,whether You decide to re-queen or let them raise their own, I'd get that comb mess OUT of there asap!!! Why wait to deal with it until next year when it could be extended to More bars? I suppose that is not the most "natural" way but I'd get those combs out and FEED the remaining bees a Lot until they have at least comb filling that space.Then stay on top of giving the new queen room to lay up front and center,leaving a few back bars spaced for honey in the back. In the Fall they'll backfill a lot more for honey than you'll see during the summer. The space you make should be alternated with existing straights combs or partial combs if you have any without brood you can move back. (otherwise keep checking and correcting).Make sure your hive is leveled both directions too!

I started wanting to have a mostly natural? mostly hands off hive but learned first year that if I wanted to Keep my investment in bees,and get some honey,I better be a Bee Keeper,not just a person that has a hive. The least I inspect is once a month now and I've found there is always Something that needs doing by me to avoid future problems with a TB. Mostly now it's just finding a way to give my queens space.

You have to make your own choices but anything that sounds like "instructions" is what I learned Here and from the experiences I've had that avoided those problems my second year. Bees sure give us a LOT of experiences at first! Gotta love 'em! :D :rolleyes: ;)
PS- that first hive gave me over a half gallon of honey this Spring too....they'd stored a lot in the Fall when I wasn't feeding anymore. Some of what I said depends on your bees vs mine though...but you'll figure it out! Sorry I got so wordy! I love talking about it all!
 

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As long as the remaining bees have a few bars of honey and plenty of pollen and already drawn comb, I would harvest the messed up bars of honeycomb. Let the bees re-queen with the queen cells in the hive and reassess once late fall is here. You may end up with a nuc size amount of bees to go through the winter, but they would expand rapidly come spring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks, HappyBeing! No need to apologize for wordiness! I appreciate the advice, by all means. I understand the reasoning for getting the mess of honey out of there instead of waiting till spring. Plus might a new queen think she's out of room if I leave it? Not a lot of beekeepers here are experienced with TBH, so it's been a lot of reading----nothing like actual experience to teach a person, though, right? I know swarming is a "natural" phenomena, but it's left me in a quandary happening now.

Glad to know your bees raised a queen themselves. I'm hoping for the same based on what I saw in the hive. They were pretty cranky with no queen and me messing about, but if I get the honey out, I hope I can "reorganize" the bars to make a bit more sense, and give more room in the brood area. There is new partial comb, but I don't know how productive they will be right now with dwindling numbers. Since I don't want to waste $$ invested in this hive, I'll need to do a better job of spacing once they get started building up the colony again.

Do you have any advice as to how long I should wait before ordering a queen? I had really hoped to keep this colony going through the winter as they have been great bees.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you, ruthiesbees, I appreciate the help! The bees are still bringing in pollen, and there was plenty when I checked. My sense is as of now I still have plenty of bees if they can get going with some new brood soon. I think there are some bars of comb I can leave, and if not, I'll feed the bees the harvested honey or syrup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks---that seems to be the consensus. Will plan to harvest as soon as I can, then see what happens and hope for the best.
 

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Hi Donna
There is a great time table for bees on Michael Bush' website. Days from capped queen cell to laying queen (when you should find eggs or wait another week for larvae you can see better!)and lots of other bee-times so you can figure and mark your calender for when you should see new larvae. There is a lag time and your choice is to let them do their thing or re-start with a new queen now for a bigger population before winter.

This year,a month ago, I had to buy a queen for a split that couldn't raise one from their queen cells or she died on her mating flight. They dwindled and hardly built new comb,but since the new queen they are fine.(That was my big new learning experience This year! To see how lethargic and unhappy they got when their made-queen failed or was lost).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi HappyBeeing,

I found the time table under Bee Math. It's great information and will help me do some calculations. I like his idea of doing "best case/worst case" scenario, which will give me a timeline for both options. This info was covered in my beginning beekeeping class, but his table is really easy to understand and quick to use. Thanks! And yes, my bees are looking pretty sad and unenergetic, although they are still flying in and out with pollen.
 
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