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Seems like my bee population dropped dramatically in the past week. It seems very late (and cool in the Mid-Atlantic_ for a swarm. The hive seems more docile and less active in general and while there is capped brood and larvae, I did not see the queen. My first thought was to wait and see what happens over the next week, but should I try to requeen? At this point they do not seem like they will make it through the winter and I would love to get them through!
 

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I inspected a hive today where the bees were hurriedly vacating the hive looking to all the world like they were initiating swarming. Right or not I blew lots of smoke around, dismantled the hive (two deeps and a shallow) and moved three frames of brood and adhering bees to a single deep, along with two capped queen cells. I left one queen cell - supercedure by placement on the frame in the original hive - along with another 4-5 frames of brood. The empty spaces were made up with drawn comb. I cut probably six additional cells. If this were early summer I would have done something with them instead of cutting.

I won't get back to this yard for a few weeks so I won't know how the story ends until then. Most of the bees that had been outside the original hive returned inside once I was done with my manipulations, so I'll take that for a sign that things (for the moment) were at least as good as I could make make them.

This hive was one I was inspecting as part of the EAS/Bee Informed Partnership Real Time Testing (tier 4). And I got the necessary sample!

I think I will make it a habit to keep spare equipment in each yard; it sure saved me this time!

(This is a long way of saying that bees don't just swarm in the spring but will swarm any time of the "season" - and don't take winter survivability into account. If you can get a mated queen of stock that you like, go for it. You'll need to inspect again and really look for the queen this time and introduce her to your hive tool once you find her. Miss her and your new queen will be killed and your money wasted.)
 
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