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Questions on hive space and swarming

1010 Views 3 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  TheFuzz
What happens to a hive when it's full of honey? Even if it's four supers deep, if it's completely full, will the bees seek to swarm so the queen can keep laying eggs? Do the bees not slow down in bringing in honey even if the hive is full and the queen doesn't have space to lay eggs? Is it risky for the survival of the colony to abandon the hive to swarm when their supers are full?

If a beekeeper shows up to their apiary, and see their hives are full, will taking honey from the top supers be sufficient in providing them with space? Will the queen crawl up to the top super, even if it's four deep, to lay eggs up there? Or will this simply prevent the bees from filling up the brood chamber with honey, allowing the queen to lay eggs in the brood chamber?

If a beekeeper notices that the hive is completely full and does a honey extraction on the top super, should the beekeeper ideally take frames from the brood chamber, and swap them with the empty, extracted frames up top?

Would simply placing an empty super on top of a full hive, provide the bees with the space they need so they don't swarm?
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Answers to all those questions should contain phrases like "it depends", "often times" and "usually". Lol.

The answers above are generally correct, but often times if the brood nest is plugged, it is with nectar, which in the case of swarming, will be dried down by the time the new queen is ready to lay, which can be consolidated as its volume shrinks, leaving room. Feeding new brood then frees up more room.

I have had queens climb thru 2 or more boxes of honey to lay drone brood in a frame of foundationless I was hoping to use as comb honey, and I have had them stay low.

I had a hive this year that was split because of swarm cells just at the peak of the nectar flow that filled the entire hive with honey waiting for the new queen. Placed a super of foundation only on top, and within 7 days drew the entire super of comb and stuffed it with honey I presume moved out of the nest to make room for brood.

Usually in the case you describe, the best course I would think would be to extract a box or 2, if practical, and put them back on the hive. Replacement whether on top or in the middle of the stack is also a subject that can be debated at length with varying results and tendencies.
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