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I have a second year hive of Carniolans that I checkerboarded in early spring. This seems to have thwarted swarming and I had four brood boxes and lots of bees in early June. Our main flow started with clovers about June 18th and the bees are bringing in lots of nectar now. I use all medium boxes and this colony has eight boxes on. I wanted to get some eggs laid into an empty frame to raise some queens with the Hopkins method so I went down into the brood nest. As I started to work my way down through the honey supers I found the queen up in the top super where she had been laying eggs. The top two brood boxes were quite nectar/pollen bound but with some capped brood. The bottom two brood boxes were mostly packed with pollen. I have never seen a hive so packed with stores like this and to complicate matters it seems like every fourth bee is a drone. Those bug-eyed fellers were everywhere.
What I am wondering is:
1. Why would a colony need this many drones?
2. Can there be too much pollen in a hive?
3. Now that swarm season is waning how much nectar-filling in the brood nest is normal?
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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>1. Why would a colony need this many drones?

Every fourth bee is 25% drones which is the peak of drone population in a normal hive.

>2. Can there be too much pollen in a hive?

Some people think so. You can move it all to the bottom box (it tends to be there anyway) or give it to splits when you make them to save them some work or freeze them for use in a pollen dearth in the fall so you get a nice batch of brood before winter when a fall flow fails...

>3. Now that swarm season is waning how much nectar-filling in the brood nest is normal?

I would expect the top of the brood nest to get filled, but there should be a large consolidated area of brood below that. If they are filling things here and there all over, I would be expecting to see them swarm...
 

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"I would expect the top of the brood nest to get filled, but there should be a large consolidated area of brood below that. If they are filling things here and there all over, I would be expecting to see them swarm..."

Your prediction was correct Michael... thank you for your response. I checked again yesterday and swarm cells were everywhere so I made a split. Since I was concerned that I may have damaged or bumped some of the queen cells I left about six of them in the split. Is this too many? What problems can result from leaving too many swarm cells in a split? I found a second hive with swarm cells and split it into 12 nucs so I do not need any more queens.
One other question: Since I am short of drawn, empty frames would there be any congestion-relief benefit in alternating three or four undrawn foundation frames into each brood box? (I tried foundationless earlier and I got all drone cells and it did not get attached at the bottom.) I am concerned that other hives are getting honey bound too. We are two weeks into the main flow and it will be mostly over in three weeks when Tilia is done blooming. Thanks!
 

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> I left about six of them in the split. Is this too many?

I always leave one frame with cells, however many it is, and I don't destroy any. That could be one or it could be a dozen.

>What problems can result from leaving too many swarm cells in a split?

In my opinion, that's the best way to go, but in theory, if you still leave them too crowded, they would have a queen they could swarm with. I consider the better odds of them not being queenless against the unlikely scenario where they swarm and leave the extras...

> I found a second hive with swarm cells and split it into 12 nucs so I do not need any more queens.

You can always make swarm lure out of the less productive ones...

>One other question: Since I am short of drawn, empty frames would there be any congestion-relief benefit in alternating three or four undrawn foundation frames into each brood box? (I tried foundationless earlier and I got all drone cells and it did not get attached at the bottom.)

Empty undrawn frames are the most effective at avoiding swarming. Foundation is less effective. Drawn comb is less effective. But yes, you can use either. I often use drawn comb because I don't want it to go to waste and I have some on hand.
 
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