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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(Cincinnati area) This year I have two colonies that boomed early and far beyond what I have experienced in the past. They are already bearding pretty heavily by April 7, way in advance of main flow. Dandelions just started blooming. A warm spell is speeding things up now. I am just feeling a bit stuck as to deciding what to do for swarm control with these colonies. I don't have any extra bottom boards so maybe that pushes in the direction of Snelgrove. But finding the queen in that madness of crazy high population with bees boiling out all the boxes will be a major feat.

They both have plenty of drones flying. No queen cells as of recent inspection - likely because of lack of flow yet.
I'm feeling a bit paralyzed in deciding what to do for swarm control. I've done a little bit of OSBH. These two hives are jam packed into their space and I don't want to add more brood space. I'm open to suggestions since I'm kind of feeling ambivalent about proceeding. I think part of my uncertainty has to do with weather/temp swings. Not sure this early if it makes sense to contemplate splits.
 

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If the dandelions have started, then it might be time to put some supers on and give all those bees something to do?
 

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Karen: My suggestion would be to break out the Snelgrove board. You do not need to find the queen. Take off all of the upper boxes and leave the lower box in place. Shake off all of the bees from the top box into the lower box, ensuring that no bee is left behind. Place a queen excluder over the bottom box and return your remaining hive bodies with frames above the queen excluder. You now know that your queen is in the bottom box.

From this point, perform Wally Shaw's interpretation of Snelgrove Method 1.

Edit: Actually, scratch all of that. Wally Shaw addresses how to perform the Snelgrove Method 1 without finding the queen (he calls it "Plan B") in the linked document. I keep this document in my truck for reference. Method 2 is for when you find charged queen cells.
 

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Karen, I've used Snelgrove boards for the past 5 years, so I can strongly suggest that you go that route. If you are overwhelmed with ne numbers of bees you can do a walkaway split easily with the Snelgrove boards. Just split the brood between top and bottom with the Snelgrove in between. The box that has the queen will be good and the queen less side will make a new queen. This gives you a week or two to get bottom boards. Anytime after you have the bottom boards you can move the new colony to another location.

I'm in Mid Missouri so we may be a week or so ahead of you. If you've seen drones flying in good numbers you are probably good to go. For us I use early April as the first swarm time so that's when I do splits. I just saw a Georgia beek say that he used Redbud bloom as his indicator, two or three weeks later he did his first grafts. I had arbitrarily set April 15 for my first attempt at grafting. We had the Redbuds open this Monday so I'm good to go and you may be also.

After you separate the boxes I'd put my supers on for sure.

Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Karen, I've used Snelgrove boards for the past 5 years, so I can strongly suggest that you go that route. If you are overwhelmed with ne numbers of bees you can do a walkaway split easily with the Snelgrove boards. Just split the brood between top and bottom with the Snelgrove in between. The box that has the queen will be good and the queen less side will make a new queen. This gives you a week or two to get bottom boards. Anytime after you have the bottom boards you can move the new colony to another location.

I'm in Mid Missouri so we may be a week or so ahead of you. If you've seen drones flying in good numbers you are probably good to go. For us I use early April as the first swarm time so that's when I do splits. I just saw a Georgia beek say that he used Redbud bloom as his indicator, two or three weeks later he did his first grafts. I had arbitrarily set April 15 for my first attempt at grafting. We had the Redbuds open this Monday so I'm good to go and you may be also.

After you separate the boxes I'd put my supers on for sure.

Good Luck!
Thanks for that suggestion. I get flummoxed with the temp swings. A week ago we had temps in the 20s at night and one day of high in the 30s. Yet , yesterday we hit a record high temp for that date: 83. Redbud is on its first bloom day, and fruit trees are now in bloom. Probably should move ahead!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Karen: My suggestion would be to break out the Snelgrove board. You do not need to find the queen. Take off all of the upper boxes and leave the lower box in place. Shake off all of the bees from the top box into the lower box, ensuring that no bee is left behind. Place a queen excluder over the bottom box and return your remaining hive bodies with frames above the queen excluder. You now know that your queen is in the bottom box.

From this point, perform Wally Shaw's interpretation of Snelgrove Method 1.

Edit: Actually, scratch all of that. Wally Shaw addresses how to perform the Snelgrove Method 1 without finding the queen (he calls it "Plan B") in the linked document. I keep this document in my truck for reference. Method 2 is for when you find charged queen cells.
Thanks, I printed out the instructions a week or so ago... Time to get moving, I guess. I used Snelgroves last year with success. Still feel like a novice at it though: if I do something only once/year, I typically forget what I did.
 

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I also use Redbuds for timing. If we have a killing frost during bloom the swarm preps end, if no frost they continue.
I started my manipulations 04/03. By doing so one can slow the swarm prep, but it does not stop them until the board goes on, so be mindful of the presence of swarm cells.
I have two colonies that I couldn't find the Queen. I did the step one manipulation as per instructions except I put one drawn, empty frame in the top box and reassembled the hive. Today, I will look for eggs. There is precious little room for her to lay so it will be easy to determine where she is without tearing the whole thing down again. If she is in the top box, it is just a matter of catching her and letting her loose at the entrance. I figure I have good chance of her being in the bottom because I rarely find a Queen on frames of capped brood which are now in the top box. If she is in the bottom box all that remains is to place the S.B. board.
She can't swarm from the top box because of the QE on top of the bottom brood box.
Good luck with however you choose to proceed.

Alex
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for that suggestion. I get flummoxed with the temp swings. A week ago we had temps in the 20s at night and one day of high in the 30s. Yet , yesterday we hit a record high temp for that date: 83. Redbud is on its first bloom day, and fruit trees are now in bloom. Probably should move ahead!
Jim, one question: I'm thinking through the Snelgrove option with charged queen cells. I think the field bees on the bottom could be fairly productive. I wonder if it's workable to add a queen excluder to the mix, for the bottom, field bee colony. They'd have a couple of half empty to empty brood boxes and then some supers. Not sure the QE would work in that situation. My experience with QEs is limited but it worked last year, and seemed to require that the space below the QE be completely used for brood rearing, with no honey storage, so the honey dome gets built above the QE.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I also use Redbuds for timing. If we have a killing frost during bloom the swarm preps end, if no frost they continue.
I started my manipulations 04/03. By doing so one can slow the swarm prep, but it does not stop them until the board goes on, so be mindful of the presence of swarm cells.
I have two colonies that I couldn't find the Queen. I did the step one manipulation as per instructions except I put one drawn, empty frame in the top box and reassembled the hive. Today, I will look for eggs. There is precious little room for her to lay so it will be easy to determine where she is without tearing the whole thing down again. If she is in the top box, it is just a matter of catching her and letting her loose at the entrance. I figure I have good chance of her being in the bottom because I rarely find a Queen on frames of capped brood which are now in the top box. If she is in the bottom box all that remains is to place the S.B. board.
She can't swarm from the top box because of the QE on top of the bottom brood box.
Good luck with however you choose to proceed.

Alex
Excellent suggestion. Today the redbuds opened their blooms, so it's a perfect day to start. With the colonies being so huge, I likely won't find the queen and may hve to shake them out. Don't have the luxury of waiting, but in future I will use this method.
 

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I don't have a whole lot of experience with queen excluder but I doubt they would help much at this point. Have you checked for swarm cells yet? If they have charged queen cells your job just got easier but you now have a time crunch to deal with. Before day 10 your queen cells are vulnerable to damage by moving to much. You'll need to brush them off the frames and not bump them off. Brush off the frames with swarm cells into the bottom box. Put your top box above your QE and button it up for the night. The nurse bees will move back up and cover the brood. The next day you can switch out the QE for your Snelgrove board. Your queen is now definetly in the bottom box. You may want to reduce the number of swarm cells to 2 or 3. If you have a few frames with cells each of them is a new potential colony for you. This is where nucs come in handy. I went from 3 to 8 colonies last year this way!

This year I'm getting ready to graft on 4/15/21. So I'm kind of anxious now. First year for this for me. By the way I took my first bee class 2012 and got on Beescource 2014. I got pretty busy a few years ago and stopped until 2019.

Good luck to you!
 

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It works really good to have a helper that knows the ritual placing the frames in box A and B as you shake and hand them off. Having extra box or two with cleaned frame rests and a spare bottom board helps make things go smoother. It is much easier to shake into a box that has an extra empty parked on top of it. Fewer bees in the air too!
 

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Maybe the snelsgrove board, at least that method would permit heat sharing between the two portions of the colony.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Since there have been a bunch of good responses here, I'm going to hazard posting a pic and see if anyone responds. I did Snelgrove manipulation this morning, leaving the queen on the top (since there was no way I was going to find her and didn't want to shake 30 frames). Wonder if anyone's seen bearding like this after putting on Snelgrove board. One option is that it's just still too congested up top. Or maybe too warm and I need to add some ventilation... or?...
 

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Karen,

Did you have an upper entrance before you did your manipulations? If yes then that's foragers trying to get back in the way they are used to going in. If no they are just confused and will get back inside before tonight. Is your Snelgrove board entrance in the front under the mob? Is the bottom entrance on this side to? My Snelgrove boards have opening on all 4 sides, top and bottom, how about yours?

Give them a little time to readjust to new digs. No, not to hot this time of year but may be to congested inside of top or bottom.

Thanks for posting your photo, they always help.
 

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Did you place the Snelgrove Board (SB) on the hive the same day that you rearranged the brood combs?
The arrangement from the top down would be brood frames, empty supers, Queen excluder, reduced brood chamber, hopefully with the Queen. After two to four days the SB is placed under the top box/boxes containing brood and on top of the empty supers. This time allows the nurse bees to be able to move up into the top box with the brood. I believe two days is sufficient. In the time period between manipulation of the frames and placing the SB the Queen needs to be located and moved to the bottom box if she is not already there. I would not put the empty supers on until after I find the Queen and get her in the bottom box.
To answer your question, yes they will beard when the SB is placed and the first door is opened. They will also beard temporarily, in a confused state, when a door is shut and the one below is opened.
This is my third year using SBs and I still get confused when talking about or planning what to do next. The one thing I always double check is that there is always one door open to the top box/boxes.
I have read page 39 of Snelgrove's book more times than I care to admit.

Alex
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Did you place the Snelgrove Board (SB) on the hive the same day that you rearranged the brood combs?
The arrangement from the top down would be brood frames, empty supers, Queen excluder, reduced brood chamber, hopefully with the Queen. After two to four days the SB is placed under the top box/boxes containing brood and on top of the empty supers. This time allows the nurse bees to be able to move up into the top box with the brood. I believe two days is sufficient. In the time period between manipulation of the frames and placing the SB the Queen needs to be located and moved to the bottom box if she is not already there. I would not put the empty supers on until after I find the Queen and get her in the bottom box.
To answer your question, yes they will beard when the SB is placed and the first door is opened. They will also beard temporarily, in a confused state, when a door is shut and the one below is opened.
This is my third year using SBs and I still get confused when talking about or planning what to do next. The one thing I always double check is that there is always one door open to the top box/boxes.
I have read page 39 of Snelgrove's book more times than I care to admit.

Alex
Thanks for sharing how you do it. Because the frames were covered with house bees when I did the rearranging, I just did everything at once. I put the Snelgrove board on right away. It seemed that there were MANY house bees, given that they were sticking on the frames and not flying up and about, and yet, they were absolutely covering every frame. So I did not feel I needed to take time to allow house bees to migrate up - they were already there. It's interesting that the hive has stored quite a lot of nectar this early in the season - so there is a good population of flying bees, which had resumed their business on the other side of the hive by mid afternoon. One thing I did not do was to find the queen. I just didnt' want to have to shake all three boxes' worth of frames. Perhaps I just set things up for an easy swarm. I tend to be a worrier. I can always take a look around day 3, when, theoretically, the boxes are less crowded because bees will have flown back around to the bottom.

When I see bees clustering like that I always suspect they're in the mood for swarming. Getting ready to hang on in aswarm group. We'll see what happens with this hive...
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks Jim,

Actually I have three entrances on my snelgrove boards. And I placed them so there's no entrance at the front . Iopened the entrance on the back of the hive, and that's what the photo shows.
 

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Just now reading you are not sure where the queen is or isnt. You cant assume the flying bees will go down if the queen is in the upper box. Better do some checking to find out where things actually are.
 

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Karen,

I hate to admit it but I have never actually read Snelgroves book. I made up 5 boards and used them according to info on Beescource posts. I've only used one way to my splits. I use deeps for my brood chamber and mediums for honey. Your all medium configuration looks good for doing this and other things. But I don't choose to change now. Crofter always gives good advice and I'll bow out on this thread now.

Jim
 

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(Cincinnati area) This year I have two colonies that boomed early and far beyond what I have experienced in the past. They are already bearding pretty heavily by April 7, way in advance of main flow. Dandelions just started blooming. A warm spell is speeding things up now. I am just feeling a bit stuck as to deciding what to do for swarm control with these colonies. I don't have any extra bottom boards so maybe that pushes in the direction of Snelgrove. But finding the queen in that madness of crazy high population with bees boiling out all the boxes will be a major feat.

They both have plenty of drones flying. No queen cells as of recent inspection - likely because of lack of flow yet.
I'm feeling a bit paralyzed in deciding what to do for swarm control. I've done a little bit of OSBH. These two hives are jam packed into their space and I don't want to add more brood space. I'm open to suggestions since I'm kind of feeling ambivalent about proceeding. I think part of my uncertainty has to do with weather/temp swings. Not sure this early if it makes sense to contemplate splits.
Consider putting a queen excluder between your brood boxes and a super between and above. You will collect honey and possibly stop the swarm that is coming your way. My elderly eyes have trouble finding queens and I am not above shaking the frames thru an excluder to strain her out and put her in a small split which will definately head off a swarm if cells haven't already been started.
 
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