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Hive had swarm leave...Will there be no honey?

1941 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  bbruff22
Hello. I can’t find a thread on this topic, so I need to get some advice.

I’m a new beekeeper, and one of my new package hives swarmed 2 weeks ago (Carniolans). I had two deeps on and had just put a honey super on, pulled their feeder, and thought all was well. Then they swarmed later that day. I found the swarm very near my two hives, cut it down and rehived the swarm in a new hive box. They have stayed, so it could have been worse.

I left the honey super on the hive that had the swarm leave, and the girls have done nothing with any frames in that super. Am I out of luck with that hive for any honey this year? I can imagine that a swarm would disrupt all but rearing a new queen. If I’m out of luck, I’d like to get that super off and use it elsewhere.

I’m also wanting to inspect that hive to see if it’s queenright, but it’s got two deeps on it, and I imagine that inspection would be difficult for me. Should I do a full inspection to see if the new queen got mated and back to the hive?

Thanks for any opinions you experienced beeks might have.
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I might give it a bit before inspecting the original hive. A new queen might take a little while to start laying and if you inspect right away you might conclude that you're queenless. Nonetheless, after a week or so I'd do a full inspection. I don't mind pulling apart the bottom deeps and going through them. Just take your time and it'll be fine. As far as the super goes, if you need it elsewhere then go ahead and use it. Even if the colony swarmed, the remaining bees will gather nectar during a flow and if they need the space, they'll use it. If they're not using it now they probably will be when the flow gets going again. I'd be tempted to just let it be. Finally, I'd keep an eye on the swarm you collected. I've had a few over the years that supersede their queen soon after I collect the swarms and I always try to be careful about checking to make sure that the supersedure is successful (pretty much like your checking the original colony for a queen). Keep us informed!
If the honey flow in your area is short in duration and you have a colony that's strong enough to fill that super I'd move it over as soon as it's needed, odds are the colony that swarmed will not fill that super for at least 3-4 weeks, if at all and by then the heavy flow will be over if your flow season is like mine.
Am I out of luck with that hive for any honey this year?

I’m also wanting to inspect that hive to see if it’s queenright, but it’s got two deeps on it, and I imagine that inspection would be difficult for me. Should I do a full inspection to see if the new queen got mated and back to the hive?
I am new, too (second year). You asked for opinions, and I hope that you get some that are constructive. That's what I am trying to do here.

You aren't necessarily out of luck but a new colony, even if it hadn't swarmed, often needs all of the honey it produces in order to make it through the winter. Removing honey, if that means there won't enough for the winter, is going to do the hive in. Anything left in the Spring once the flow begins can be considered surplus. So, you might not get honey this year, but you will have more bees and honey in the Spring.

As for inspecting, I am going to give you my blunt opinion: If you are serious about doing the best by your colonies and making sure that they can thrive, then you are going to have to do things that might seem difficult to you (at first), but which are necessary. Lifting heavy supers, going through deeps a frame at a time, sweating under a bee suit and getting stung even though you thought your bees would always be gentle is part if it, though you'll find that there are strategies to minimize these issues. Wait a 2-3 weeks for the swarm to establish itself, then go in and just do it.
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It would be rare in dead for a hive to fill a super without first filling the storage space within the hive. since you are running deeps I am assuming that would bee your wintering configuration. I do not know how the flows run in your area, but here we have two distinct strong flows, with a third flow from Goldenrod. I typically harvest any honey stored in supers from the first flow. we enter a pretty good dearth between the first and second flow. it has been my experience that the bees will consume a large majority of their stores during this dearth. they will then move the honey from the supers to the hive. By harvesting it I find it easier to monitor the hive during the dearth. I feed when necessary to allow the bees to keep the hive storage area full. Then when the second flow comes on, The bees are more apt to fill supers.

As for inspections I would most certainly do a thorough inspection of the mother hive in a week or so. If you find moving the deeps difficult, set an empty body on your cover and move the upper into it frame by frame. Then inspect the lower, look for a queen and eggs, you want to be sure you have a queen. so you can take action if not.
Do the same on the swarm. after they have had time to settle in.
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Folks, I really appreciate all these great replies. I'll suck it up and do a full inspection of the hive that swarmed after waiting a bit, per your suggestions. I will also keep an eye out for a supersedure situation. The queen that led the swarm was not particularly impressive. She had a spotty brood pattern, and the hive was always on the aggressive side. I wouldn't be surprised if they do replace her. By the way, my other hive has an awesome honey flow on right now. We've got yellow clover out big right now and purple clover. There's also a lot of Sourwood in our area. Thanks again!
Well, I did my best at a full inspection today, and it was all I was afraid it would be. I broke the boxes apart, and went through every frame, but I did not find a queen. I've never had a problem seeing one before, but this hive has many drones, and those kept drawing my eye. I'd bet it has 20% drones. It was a mess.

So, I'm not certain that I'm queenless. Here’s what I did find. I found an unhatched swarm cell, and what looked like an unhatched supersedure cell. I found very little capped brood. They are laying away a lot of honey, so everything was heavy.

I have to say this was a very unpleasant experience. I can't imagine doing it regularly. I crushed a lot of bees today, as careful as I was, and by the end of the 45 minutes, the bees were furious with me, and would have lit me up had I not had a veil, gloves, long sleeves and jeans.

This hive swarmed on 6/8, so If I'm doing my math right, if there were freshly laid eggs in this hive on 6/8, they would hatch by 7/8 or so. I'll probably try this nightmare again after 7/8. If I don't find capped brood, then I know the hive is dying. I think my two other hives are viable right now, so I’ll hopefully have some options.
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