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Discussion Starter #1
For those of you who remember, May 2013 I bought a shake of bees and dropped them in my homemade, cedar, TB hive. They left, I caught them, they left, I caught them again. After putting a queen excluder over the entrance they stayed. Once I saw brood, I removed the excluder. They swarmed in September. I caught the swarm, and now have two hives...both doing great. So...this Spring after noticing ALOT of ladies and drones, I gave the bees the final 3rd of the hive, 29 bars total, about 4 feet long, 19" bars. A couple of weeks later, still lots of bees just hanging out in the empty last 3rd...still LOTS of drones. Afraid of a swarm, I went in today expecting to add an empty bar in the brood, and maybe grab a bar of honey. What I found was this... As I worked my way from the start of the comb, about bar 18, (entrance is at bar 1) I found honey on top...brood on bottom. Looks great, but I wasnt expecting that that deep into the hive. As I continued through bars 17, 16, 15.... to 12....same thing...nice rainbow of honey and brood. Bar 11 looked to be only drone cells....HUGE cells. I stopped at bar 9 and didnt go into 1 - 8 bars. (If I remember right, bars 7 and 8 were honey that I left for winter.) I didnt see any queen cells. So (thanks for hanging in!!!), should I just leave them alone and hope they start making honey bars? Is this typical for brood that deep, or is this a sign of a swarm on the horizon? Is a split in order? Should I inspect bars 1-8? Thanks for the info....hope everyone is having an awesome year.
 

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Bees know 2 things, multiply and make honey. Giving them the space and hoping that they will make more honey comb there is probably going to take a while. You may instead want to do the same as you did in the beginning with the hives and insert open bars between the already drawn ones. This will push your brood nest to the far end little at a time, and they will instead fill it with honey. Yes this is a way to cycle out old comb too. The down side is that all your nice brood comb goes to the far end. So what I would do to begin with is actually inspect those last frames and verify that they have no hidden swarm cells. If not, i'd break the brood nest and push the bars closer to the rear of the hive. Sometimes if you give them that much area and allow them to do their own work, you'll end up with wacky comb..
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the quick response. So gradually move them away from the entrance? Wont splitting the brood give them problems in winter with the cluster?
Or do you mean possible remove old empty brood comb and move everything towards the entrance? Thanks again...
 

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If your entrance is on one end of the TBH, put empty bars between good straight combs. That will break up the brood nest and cause them to want to fix it by building new comb. As you are doing this, you are pushing the rest of the combs/bars toward the other end of the hive. Splitting the brood nest doesn't do any harm till the fall flow starts and they are getting things ready for winter.
 

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Thanks for the tips...I opened the hive just now and checked the first 8-9 bars. 1-6 looks great brood. 7-8 were tied together and had 4 capped queen cells, and 3 about to cap..can see the larvae. I added a new 1.25" bar between 3 and 4, skipped 2 bars then added another. The bars in the middle that had honey and brood have mostly hatched and they are backfilling with honey where the brood was. That explains the many more bees and a little bearding. So...what to do with the queen cells? Are they swarming regardless. I still have the hive open. I'll check back... THANK YOU!
 

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Thanks for the tips...I opened the hive just now and checked the first 8-9 bars. 1-6 looks great brood. 7-8 were tied together and had 4 capped queen cells, and 3 about to cap..can see the larvae. I added a new 1.25" bar between 3 and 4, skipped 2 bars then added another. The bars in the middle that had honey and brood have mostly hatched and they are backfilling with honey where the brood was. That explains the many more bees and a little bearding. So...what to do with the queen cells? Are they swarming regardless. I still have the hive open. I'll check back... THANK YOU!
Well apparently the hive is planning to swarm if it hasn't already. So what I would do in your shoes is this. First find the queen if she's in there. Then make a split with her and several frames of brood/bees/stores. Then cut back all but about two of your capped queen cells. Go ahead and remove the ones that aren't capped at this point. That will allow one of those swarm queens to take over the main hive, and you will have the original queen and a good start for another hive.

If you do this, I'd take at least 5 or 6 of the combs with the old queen to give them a good start. If you cannot find her and have made sure 100% that she's already gone, you can still use some of those capped queen cells to make a split with too. Hope this helps some.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the continued help. How long do I have? Somewhere between 5 minutes and 5 days? :) I dont have a hive ready. Best guess are they gone by Friday afternoon? Should I remove all but two of the queen cells immediately? Does multiple cells mean multiple swarms? Sorry...still trying to soak in info about these little critters. Thanks again...
 

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Usually, if the queen cell is capped the swarm has already gone.
In case it helps you time things Queen development is roughly as follows:
egg 3.5 days
larvae 3.5 days - 8 days
capped cell 8 - 16 days
emerges day 16
It is then another week before she is fertile, and may be laying at a month old.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Re: Lots of Brood and drones. Split? - UPDATE

I'll be looking for the queen this afternoon. If I find her, how do I know the colony is not replacing her? Would she typically be dead or gone already if that were the case? From what I've read, most of the time yes but not always. I dont want to make a split with her if the colony has found her less than good. Based on a swarm last year, she should be only a year old. If I dont find her, should I leave the hive alone and assume she is being replaced? I've spent most of the morning reading about supersedure vs swarm cells and I think I know less than when I started!!??!! Sheesh, these ladies out to know by now that I'm knew at this! Tried to attach a pic of the cells...

cells.jpg
 

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Re: Lots of Brood and drones. Split? - UPDATE

I'll be looking for the queen this afternoon. If I find her, how do I know the colony is not replacing her? Would she typically be dead or gone already if that were the case? From what I've read, most of the time yes but not always. I dont want to make a split with her if the colony has found her less than good. Based on a swarm last year, she should be only a year old. If I dont find her, should I leave the hive alone and assume she is being replaced? I've spent most of the morning reading about supersedure vs swarm cells and I think I know less than when I started!!??!! Sheesh, these ladies out to know by now that I'm knew at this! Tried to attach a pic of the cells...

View attachment 11415
Would assume swarm cells based on the fact that there's many different ages of cells. Supercedure generally all the same age.
It's hard to tell by the picture, but it looks like one of them may be hatched already?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Re: Lots of Brood and drones. Split? - UPDATE

The one's that are not capped have larvae. Its like they have different stages ready just in case. Makes me think they are supersedure...

cells2.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Re: Lots of Brood and drones. Split? - UPDATE

Why would sward cells need different stages? Thanks for the insite...
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Re: Lots of Brood and drones. Split? - UPDATE

Per drlonzo, cannot find the queen. Now 6 of the 7 original queen cells are capped, altogether on the same bar. Found another queen cell closer to the entrance with larvae inside, not yet capped. TONS of bees and drones. I did see some brood larvae too. So, I'm at a loss. They seem to be really making alot of honey now, backfilling old brood comb. Also, about a third of the hive seems to be doing nothing, either on the walls or small beards around the outside. My guess is I missed a swarm and the new queen will take over, but will she kill the other cells and no more swarms for a while? My inclination is just to leave then alone since I cant find a queen, and let them be bees and let them do what I am clueless about. My issue is I live in a neighborhood and dont want the attention of even a single swarm, much less 2 or 3, but also dont want to set them back. Any ideas are very much appreciated. Every time I open the hive I'm hopeful I'll find a nice little gift wrapped manual from them!!! "Keeping Us for Dummy".
 

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Re: Lots of Brood and drones. Split? - UPDATE

I would at a minimum cut out a queen cell or two and make a couple small splits (2 combs each). Give them some extra brood and let them raise queens.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Re: Lots of Brood and drones. Split? - UPDATE

Just cut the queen cells off the comb and attached them to comb in the new split? Lots of bearding today...near 100 in Texas today.
 

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