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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My second year. I overwintered one hive. I added a second one in April. I checked them each weekend throughout May and both looked awesome - lots of brood and beautiful patterns. Found the queens each time and felt a bit proud for that. The new one was marked <cough> but, still.

First weekend in June I checked the new hive. No queen (that I could find) and only a half a frame of brood. I couldn't believe the change. It went from fantastic to seemingly going down hill. No queen cups; swarm; or supercedure cells. Still calm, I told myself to grab a frame with eggs from the old hive and place it in here.

But, no, when i checked the old hive, it too was almost empty of brood. Just some drone brood and a few random capped brood. I only know what I have read; and I have read here about laying-workers and so panic quickly set-in. I gave it a few days and there didn't seem to be any change so I called Walter T Kelly and order two new queens.

I hived them three weeks ago. I checked them two weeks ago. They were released from their respective cages. And also gone. $70 bucks <$KaChing$>

Also, and this had me scratching my head... the old hive was now chock-full of swarm cells and supercedure cells... Interesting considering I didn't think it had a queen... It was still oddly free of brood, though.

On Tuesday my wife called me at work to ask what was going on in the old hive. She said there was a vortex of bees emitting from it and the funnel cloud was as high as our second story bedroom window. She said it was really loud, too. That is when I leaned forward at my desk and grasped my head in my hands.

So, today I checked both hives. Once again the new hive has lots of brood, nectar, and honey. No queen cups or anything else. Somehow, it rebounded. I didn't find a queen but I am confident she is there. What happened, I do not know.

The old hive, which threw the swarm, still has plenty of bees. They are back filling everywhere with nectar. The dozen or so swarm cells are gone. No capped brood. I know what you are thinking... Will this guy ask the question, please?

So, in the new hive, does the queen stop laying for some reason only to rally later?

From what I've read, the old hive experienced a classic swarm. I've read that the queen will in fact pull-back from laying as though to preserve her energy. I assume that the fact that the swarm cells have all been pulled down means I probably have a new queen running around and it is going to take another couple of weeks before she begins laying?
 

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I think you should have a beer, as that's what you were always going to do, and the bees swarmed because that is how they propagate their species. It's what they were always going to do. You and the bees are working in accordance with nature's rules. I know you miss the bees, but just think about putting a new vibrant colony in the environment. With time and experience we will learn how to reduce swarming. (reduce being the key word)
 

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With time and experience we will learn how to reduce swarming. (reduce being the key word)
Join a bee club. This forum is great but nothing beats hearing from locals what time of hear things happen. You should almost always split before the flow that swarming happens. Finding out when that is a regional thing. Join a club or start a coffee club to discuss things you cant type very well. You are going to find out that beekeepers are odd but, still eat and drink. Some more then others.

Also the queen does not pull back. They stop feeding her to slim her down for flight. She becomes tougher to find when she slims down.
 

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yeah, exactly what happens here if I don't prevent swarming. Takes a while for the new queen to get up and going because our flow drops off dramatically when the last tree sources dry up (usually persimmon and catalpa here). New queen mates -- I can always tell because there are dozens of dead drones in front of the hive, but it can take several weeks before the new queen starts laying due to the dearth we are currently in. This is a good thing, as they would require honey to raise new brood and I'd prefer they left it, we won't see much nectar around here until soybeans come in, if they do, and the asters start up in late August.

If you do not have honey on the hive you intend to harvest, you can feed them 1:1 syrup and that usually gets the brood going, but I'd not do that unless you need to build the hive back up for a fall flow. I'm feeding my new package because I want them to have that last box fully drawn and they are about half way there. I also want to do some splits to overwinter a couple nucs, and I need more bees and brood for that than I have at the moment (will probably mix frames from several hives for that).

I did the same thing you did last year, and blew $70 on queens. Lost on in a split because my brother direct released her into a just made nuc, so they killed her and moved back home. My split, which had failed to queen itself from the queen cells I took from the hive that swarmed (or did and I couldn't tell) got infested with small hive beetles and absonded, leaving the poor queen in her cage all alone in the hive. Bad deal all round, but at least I managed to keep the queen alive long enough for a friend to use her to re-queen a queenless swarm capture. She did great this year, the hive produced 60 lbs of honey on the spring flow.

Next year see if you can find a way to keep them from swarming. I missed my chance this year, should have done a cut-down split when I found an enormous brood nest with no empty cells, missed literally by a day as I was planning to split them the afternoon they took off. Naturally, I couldn't find the swarm and lost them.

Peter
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The plot thickens. My neighbor, a 50 year hobbyist beekeeper, was out tending his garden. I asked him if he happened to have a swarm set up shop in one of his empty hives on Tuesday. He said no. He thinks it was Thursday. Ahhh well. Glad they found a good home.
 

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You win some, you lose some. Sounds like your neighbor was lucky, especially if you believe luck is where opertunity meets preparation.:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
And, yet, the story doesn't end there. A few hours after I published my account from above, the doorbell rang. It was my neighbor. He said a swarm was filling up the hive in his garage. He said the previous "swarm" that filled the hive was probably scouts. (After 50 years, he's pretty casual about these things.) In any event, I ran over there and shot video. This was the coolest beekeeping thing I've yet to see. My wife said it looked very similar to how my bees looked when they left. The video doesn't do it justice. The garage was covered with bees. They were also entering through windows at the rear. I guess if I didn't know bees (a little bit) I might have found this to be terrifying. I shot this while standing in the middle of the maelstrom. If you cannot guess, I am the voice of the person who sounds like he was huffing helium immediately before the shoot. http://youtu.be/8gN9NTae0dk
 

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That's really a cool video. Unless you are a beekeeper or familiar with honey bees, that would send most people running and screaming with their arms flailing. That would be another video worth seeing! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yes. They were going in during the video. He had maybe six mediums stacked up for storage that are filled with comb. The frames and boxes are probably decades old. I am sure they are permeated with honey, propolis, and bee footprints. They were heading right into it. He never buys packages. He just leaves the garage door open. There are several other hobbyist beekeepers in the area. Guess we keep him in business.
 
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