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Discussion Starter #1
I'm in western Pennsylvania, north of Pittsburgh.

My mentor is in Panama for the summer, doing good deeds for people who need him.

I bought a nuc box from him, in late May, and put it in a 10-frame deep. This is my first, and only, hive.

Last week, I added another 10-frame deep, a queen excluder, and another 10-frame deep above that.

This past weekend, the wife and I went out for an inspection, and took some pictures. This is what we saw, and this is why I'm posting:

http://s290.photobucket.com/user/kevindsingleton/library/Bees

Those look like swarm cells, and I'm a little concerned. It's possible that they were getting crowded, and planning to swarm to make some space. After adding the two new apartments above them, though, they may have changed their minds. I really don't know, and I don't know what to look for, to determine what my next steps should be.

There is ample capped brood, but I didn't see any eggs, and I can't swear that I saw uncapped larvae. I didn't see the queen, either, but I'm a rank noob, so that's not really surprising.

I have more pictures that are currently uploading, so I can show more, if anyone wants to see them.

Does anyone have any advice for us? We're not really in this for the honey, as much as we are just trying to do our part to help the bee population, and to pollenate our gardens and trees. I can put another hive, nearby, if they're going to swarm. I could, also, move some frames to a new hive, if that's what's necessary.
 

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They look like swarm cells to me and you seem to be on the right track

I would at least put up a bait hive to try to catch them if they do swarm but I've found that when they decide to swarm it's hard to change they're mind

If you do find the queen you could take her and a couple balanced frames and move them to a new hive to simulate a swarm just make sure to leave the cells in the old hive

Just my opinion take it with care
 

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this is my first year 2 but i have learned that if the queen is in swarm mode u cant change that she is slimming down to be able to fly that's why u may not be able to spot her unless shes marked. if u add the other deep after the swarm cell was in place. not soon enough time , and sometimes they dont go up so u have to put the new brood box under the old brood deep. after 7 or more frames have been capped and taking 1 frame of brood or eggs and putting 1 of them in the new deep under the old deep. and another thing i have learned is u don't want to give them extra box's to early it can set them back by trying to cover to much space u want at least 7 to 8 frames of bees. i think ur just try to keep an eye on the hive to catch the swarm leaving. it will look like a tornado of bees coming out of the hive . like i said this is my first year to so take with a grain of salt might not be the most accurate information but ur still on looking for help.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
What's a "bait hive"? If I put one out, how far away should it be from the original hive? Are they really looking for a new place to live, or are they looking to vacate the territory?

I'm not too worried about this situation, right now, but I may just not be smart enough to know I should be worried. If they swarm, I'll lose some bees. I'll have another whole hive, soon enough, so I'll just start planning for next year.

As I mentioned, I'm not really all that concerned about the honey harvest, this year, anyway. So, if the hive splits, and I capture the swarm, that's great. I'll feed them as they head into the fall, so both hives will have plenty of energy for the horrid Pennsylvania winter to come. If they swarm, and I don't catch them, then I'll get more bees in the spring, and nurse two weaker hives through the season, next year.

I probably should have had two hives, to start with, anyway.

Thanks for the information. This is so different from everything I've ever done, before, so I can't lean on any past experience.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I've read that it's possible to remove the swarm cells, and convince the colony to remain where they are, but it might be too late for that, already. I guess I'll find out, soon enough.

I like the idea of reversing the boxes. The first box was very full, with all frames containing some bees, and lots of newly capped honey on the outer frames, when we added the two boxes. My plan, going forward, is to replace the upper deep with a medium super, move the upper deep over to the new hive, and put a medium super on top of that. That way, I'll end up with two deeps and a medium for each hive, with queen excluders between the middle deep and top supers. I like symmetry. I have hive-top feeders for both hives, too, so I'll be able to feed the girls through the fall and into the winter.

Thanks for chiming in. I need all the help I can get, especially while my "bee guy" is down in Panama.
 

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Great pictures...I'm a newbee too, and had one of my packages swarm on 6/8. They were installed on 4/10. I did all the usual stuff, and one still swarmed. I was able to catch and rehive the swarm.

Next year, I will try to better manage this better prior to swarm season. It's sure been stressful. I'm not 100% sure the hive that remained is queenright. There's a lot that goes on to get a new queen raised, mated, and back to a hive.

Good luck to you!
 

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Your best bet for not losing this queen is to put the new queen in a new box and shake in a bunch of bees from the other hive and move the hive a few miles away if you can you want them to think they swarmed you can search YouTube for shook swarm, or swarm split and see how its done good luck
 

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I'd probably do a split/artificial swarm. Take the queen, a frame of older open brood and sealed brood with NO queen cell, a frame of honey and pollen, maybe a mixed frame of brood, pollen, and honey, and a frame or two of foundation...put these in another hive box positioned against a side wall (not centered in the box).

Take some rigid insulation board or plywood and make a "follower board"...this is a board that hangs like a frame does but that reaches to the bottom and top of the hive. When the follower board is put in the hive it basically seals the empty part of the hive off from the frames of bees....thus turning a 10-frame box into an adjustable sized box. This keeps the four or five frames of bees and resources compacted down without a lot of dead space that the bees have to guard/maintain. Move this nuc to it's own stand. Some people will position the nuc's entrance right beside the entrance of the donor/mother hive to gain some of the foragers returning to the big hive. As the nuc grows the follower board can be moved to the side and more frames installed.

Watch the mother hive and be sure that the bees there are successful in creating a laying queen. If they fail you can always combine the queenright nuc back with them.

As for a bait hive, use a drop or two of lemongrass essential oil (people have used "Lemon Pledge"!) inside the bait hive. Reduce the entrance down to an inch or two. A deep box works well. Put it in the shade. A piece of old comb inside of it helps but beware of wax moths. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. :eek:

Here is a Google search for "artificial swarm" with what looks like some good hits. Read through some of these to get a better idea of artificial swarming: https://www.google.com/search?q=hon...la:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb

Do not tear those queen cells down. It actually looks like you have possibly got some capped queen cells there, which may mean that your queen has already swarmed with a primary swarm. If you cut the cells out now there is a chance that you may create a queenless situation for the colony. Either do some type of split or artificial swarming or leave things as they are and let the bees work it out. Remember, that if you're not sure what to do for the bees...do nothing, they pretty well know what it takes to survive better than we do. ;)

Best wishes,
Ed
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I'd probably do a split/artificial swarm. Take the queen, a frame of older open brood and sealed brood with NO queen cell, a frame of honey and pollen, maybe a mixed frame of brood, pollen, and honey, and a frame or two of foundation...put these in another hive box positioned against a side wall (not centered in the box).

Take some rigid insulation board or plywood and make a "follower board"...this is a board that hangs like a frame does but that reaches to the bottom and top of the hive. When the follower board is put in the hive it basically seals the empty part of the hive off from the frames of bees....thus turning a 10-frame box into an adjustable sized box. This keeps the four or five frames of bees and resources compacted down without a lot of dead space that the bees have to guard/maintain. Move this nuc to it's own stand. Some people will position the nuc's entrance right beside the entrance of the donor/mother hive to gain some of the foragers returning to the big hive. As the nuc grows the follower board can be moved to the side and more frames installed.

Watch the mother hive and be sure that the bees there are successful in creating a laying queen. If they fail you can always combine the queenright nuc back with them.

As for a bait hive, use a drop or two of lemongrass essential oil (people have used "Lemon Pledge"!) inside the bait hive. Reduce the entrance down to an inch or two. A deep box works well. Put it in the shade. A piece of old comb inside of it helps but beware of wax moths. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. :eek:

Here is a Google search for "artificial swarm" with what looks like some good hits. Read through some of these to get a better idea of artificial swarming: https://www.google.com/search?q=hon...la:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb

Do not tear those queen cells down. It actually looks like you have possibly got some capped queen cells there, which may mean that your queen has already swarmed with a primary swarm. If you cut the cells out now there is a chance that you may create a queenless situation for the colony. Either do some type of split or artificial swarming or leave things as they are and let the bees work it out. Remember, that if you're not sure what to do for the bees...do nothing, they pretty well know what it takes to survive better than we do. ;)

Best wishes,
Ed
Excellent information, Ed! Thanks very much!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Your best bet for not losing this queen is to put the new queen in a new box and shake in a bunch of bees from the other hive and move the hive a few miles away if you can you want them to think they swarmed you can search YouTube for shook swarm, or swarm split and see how its done good luck
Thanks, Harley. I don't have anywhere to put them a "few miles away", so I'm going to keep monitoring, for now, and see what happens.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Great pictures...I'm a newbee too, and had one of my packages swarm on 6/8. They were installed on 4/10. I did all the usual stuff, and one still swarmed. I was able to catch and rehive the swarm.

Next year, I will try to better manage this better prior to swarm season. It's sure been stressful. I'm not 100% sure the hive that remained is queenright. There's a lot that goes on to get a new queen raised, mated, and back to a hive.

Good luck to you!
I guess I didn't know there was a "swarm season", so it's possible they swarmed while I was at work, and forgot to text me before they left. If they're gone, there's not getting them back, but the hive seems to be very busy and productive. I'll crack it open, this weekend, and see where I stand. I should have some more deeps to put out, tomorrow.
 

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Ed's advice is correct. It's not a good idea to be hands off with a swarming hive this time of year. With after swarms you might not be left with much of a hive. Then you have all your eggs in one basket hoping that your hive gets mated. Better to make splits and have two queens attempting to mate. Later you can recombine. You have some beautiful queen cells, may as we'll take advantage of them.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Ed's advice is correct. It's not a good idea to be hands off with a swarming hive this time of year. With after swarms you might not be left with much of a hive. Then you have all your eggs in one basket hoping that your hive gets mated. Better to make splits and have two queens attempting to mate. Later you can recombine. You have some beautiful queen cells, may as we'll take advantage of them.
I get what you're saying, Margot. I'm just not confident that I'll make the right decisions, given that I've never done this before, and I'm not completely certain what I'm seeing, even when I look very closely!

I'll crack the hive open, tomorrow, and see where things are. If there's a live queen, and she's laying, I'll split the hives, as Ed suggested.

If I can't find her, though, or it appears that she's not laying, I'll prep a bait hive, and try to catch whatever escapes.

What are my other options? If the hive has swarmed, I don't have the original queen to start a new colony. Are you suggesting that I find the newly-hatched queens, and create two hives from brood/honey/pollen frames using the new queens?
 

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To be honest I have only personally experienced your first scenario not your second. If I were experiencing your second scenario I think I would do a 50/50 split. I would not worry about where the virgin queen was but I would make sure that the queen cels were split equally. I would do this hoping that the reduced population would reduce after swarms and that I would double my odds of getting a mated queen. I am still learning myself so hopefully someone with more experience will confirm or shoot this down.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
So, it looks like there is less honey, and very little capped brood remaining. I couldn't see any eggs, but it's still possible that I'm too new and dumb to know what I'm looking at. I haven't had a chance to go through all of the pictures, yet. There does appear to be lots of nectar and pollen being stored, so that's a good thing, right? We thought we spotted a new queen. Here's a picture:



Does that look like a virgin queen, to any of you? The swarm cells are gone, and the total hive population might have been diminished, but it's hard to say. It was a beautiful day for flying, and most of the bees might have been out on diplomatic missions. The lower deep was still very full of bees, and all frames show activity. The second deep has some drawn comb, but no brood.

I'm still not sure what to do, if anything. I think they've swarmed. If so, what do I do, now? I know I'll be feeding through the fall and into the winter, since there probably aren't enough foragers left to collect enough food for the cold season. If the queen mates, I should see eggs/larvae/capped brood, soon. If not, I'm not sure what I should do. Re-queen? Wait until the spring, and re-queen, then? Let the bees work it out? I just don't know.
 
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