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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I hived a nuc via the chop-and-crop in mid May.

At this point, the 4 foot KTBH is drawn out on all 31 bars. There is still a fair amount of brood throughout, some capped honey mixed in, and a fair amount of empty cells as well.

There are tons of bees, and a lot of bees 'hanging out' lately on the landing board of the end entrance. Tons of activity.

So how do I manage from here? Do I just watch for capped honey and remove as I can and replace with empty bars? Do I need to do anything to prevent swarming due to overcrowding?

Thanks,

Adam
 

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I'm in the same boat as you. I hived a 3lb package on May 14th and all the bars are fully drawn out and mostly full of brood and honey. The brood combs all have capped honey at the top and the honey combs are mostly full and partially capped. Lots more bees now, and they've been bearding on the front more and more for the past couple of weeks.

I'm building a new TBH and I'm planning on doing a walk away split when it's done, hopefully this weekend.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'd harvest but not too much. You want them to have enough for winter and the flow may let up.
I don't really have any bars of capped honey to harvest, Michael. The capped honey is just along the tops of brood bars. There's a lot of room for honey and brood, as there appears to be plenty of open comb throughout the hive.

I just want to avoid swarming. I live in town with close neighbors, and they've been very supportive to this point. I'd like to save the excitement of a yard full of bees - at least until year two. If I can avoid splitting and swarming and have a strong colony with plenty of stores for winter - that's what I'd like to do.

Advice?

Adam
 

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I'm all for avoiding swarming, but odds are the neigbors will never even notice... for the few miniutes it's happening it's pretty dramatic but once they settle on a limb most people would never notice them.

A split is about the only reasonable solution if you can't harvest and you have no more room in the hive. Supering a top bar hive is difficult at best beacuse of the lack of upward communication (no gaps between the top bars). It's kind of odd for them to have such a large brood nest in such a large hive They usually don't spread it out that much.

Too bad you don't have chickens. They love brood...
 

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Adam,
I agree with the Mac Daddy but I’m not sure that the hive is full yet. Due to your northern location I think you should wait it out. The brood nest should condense soon and they will back fill the comb, hopefully. You said you have empty cells, those may get filled now. There is no real harm in letting them swarm. You could hope to capture them. If you split you could end up feeding both colonies. If you can snatch a little honey off the ends; go ahead. My vote is for watch and wait.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Okay, I'm picking up what you're layin down.

I think I'll open them up and take a careful look through the hive again (it's been 10 days or so now.)

I'll look for queen cells, and if I see them, may consider a split. If I don't, I'm going to try to leave the hive as a single colony.

Thanks for putting in your perspective. It's really important, as it's much harder to find good information for managing a tbh.

Adam
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Okay, so I opened it up, and went through the entire hive, looking for queen cells. The bees appear to be backfilling, but there are still eggs here and there throughout.

I found what appeared to be queen cells on two frames, so I decided to split. I put those frames, a couple of heavy brood frames and two frames of honey into a small hive and set it next to the original hive. Was that a mistake?

Will all of the foragers just return to the old hive?

Please help me get this right.

Thanks again,

Adam
 

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Adam -
Your queen and some brood should go in the new split hive. Leave the parent with the QC - yes, your foragers will return to the parent hive, that's why you want the split queenright.

It is not too late to switch that back up, assuming you can find the queen tomorrow.

Best,
-Erin
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Solid advice Erin, and I decided to take it. Thank you.

I feared that the nuc would flounder and the original hive would likely swarm anyway. Your advice urged me to open them up again today, and try to find the queen and move her over to the nuc. It was overcast and muggy and the bees were less patient, but still very good to work with, considering my pestering them.

I went through the whole thing end-to-end once and didn't find her, but found two more queen cells. This only solidified the decision to move her, as they would likely have one or two more cells that I didn't find. On the way back, I found the queen and moved her to the nuc (well, it's bigger than a nuc - 18 bars). I put a feeder on the little hive with 1:1 syrup and a splash of lemon juice.

This evening, the little one is very quiet. I don't know how to get more foragers going...

The larger hive has a ton of bees just hanging out on the landing board, bearding; depressed.

My hope is that the larger hive, which has a huge number of bees will be able to truck along while they get queen-right. I know that there are at least a half dozen other beeks in the downtown area, so there are local drones from wintered colonies out there to mate with.

Meanwhile, the little hive will quickly get up and running with my trusty local egg-laying machine, who has been wonderful in the other hive.

Any other pointers are welcome and appreciated.

Thanks again, to everyone for taking the time to offer perspectives.

Adam
 

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Hi Adam - sounds great
yes, the nuc will have lower flying activity as the foragers will fly out to the nectar and back to the old hive. That's fine assuming you have a honey frame or two in the "nuc" - every day new bees become foragers and those bees will be oriented to the new hive.

Make sure to go back to the parent next weekend and cut the swarm cells down to one or two . (I never have the nerve to just cut down to one)

Best to you and your bees,
-E.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Okay - more questions:

1- what if I missed a queen cell or two on the frames I put in the nuc with the queen?

2-What if I don't cut the queen cells down to one in the original queen less hive? Are they sure to swarm anyway? I've got to be away from Wednesday until next Tuesday meaning the hives will have had about 10 days from the split. Am I doomed to lose a swarm in that time?

3- Erin, you mention cutting down to one or two queen cells in the original hive. What's the difference between two and more than two? I mean, if there are more than one queen cell, aren't they still likely to swarm?

By the way, things are picking up no for both hives. The nuc appears to have foraging bees now, and the original is rocking hard, after a couple of days of listless hanging around in globs on the front porch.


Thanks Again,

Adam
 

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1- if you missed a cell or two in the nuc with the queen, no big deal, she will kill the new queen when she starts piping (or before) as there is no field force so she will not swarm.

2 & 3- reducing the number of QC in the "parent" is very important because they certainly can afterswarm as much as they want with however many QC you left. Best to reduce the number of QC to one or two (I always leave two, jut in case)

I hope this helps,
-E.
 

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They may build more, but in this case they will be "emergency" cells, not swarm cells.

Typically they build many fewer emergency cells and they are best thought of as backup to the new swarm queens in the event they don't make it home.

Now is time to wait and see and let them alone.

Best,
-Erin
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Well, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), I have to be away for almost a week. So they will be left to do what they will do.

The old, now queenless hive is very busy today, with pollen and nectar coming in and bees everywhere.

The new hive is starting to get righted, and new foragers are beginning to come and go. Ive got syrup on that one, and a very small entrance for the time being.

So we will see how they do. I hope I've done the right things.

Thanks again for your guidance,


Adam
 

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Discussion Starter #19
So I returned from my trip Wednesday night. Bad weather Thursday.

Opened up the two tbh's today.

The new hive has eggs, so the queen is working away in there somewhere. They're taking syrup down pretty fast, so I'll keep feeding them.

The donor, queenless hive had 4 queen cells, capped. So I cut the two smaller ones, leaving two larger ones. I had the knife in hand, tempted to cut down to one, but Erin's post saying she would leave two stuck in my head, and I left both. I've got two nucs with comb in the yard in case I lose a swarm. How likely is that with just two QC's?


Adam
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Update since July 23:

Opened the split and donor hives today. The split has been taking a quart of 1:1 syrup per day. There is a lot of capped brood, eggs, larvae and honey - there's only one bar open at the back of the 18 bar hive. The little engine is booming.

The donor has about 10 bars of honey each 2/3 - 3/4 capped. There are eggs and tiny, early stage larvae, beginning about 10 frames from the back of the end-entrance tbh. Somewhere around the 12th bar from the back (31 bars in total), I found the new queen doing her thing. So they're both going along pretty well. I probably should start feeding the donor pretty soon too, just to help them recover from the split...

Adam
 
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