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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Local beeks are evenly divided on this question (3-3).

I'm in Atlanta and started with two packages of Italians from Rossman, which is only a couple hours away. I used packages because I'm running all 8 frame mediums and I wanted to regress them (or at least let them build whatever sized cells they liked from strips of small cell foundation.) Both packages built up well through August and then came rains of Biblical proportions. I'm sure you saw it on CNN. Consequently, when one hive went queenless sometime in the middle of August I had no idea because it was too wet to go in and look.

The other hive seems to have superseded herself and managed to rear a queen who bred with local bees. When the sun finally came out again in late September the hive was about half and half golden bees and dusky grey to black ones. I am in an area bordered by some of the earliest Russian importers and so could be in range of some of their hives or thrown swarms. I noticed black bees on my clover last February before I saw any golden ones about and rather hope some of those genes are in the line now.

This hive is overwintering on 8 frames in one box and never built up any appreciable stores. I don't think this is a failing of the bees, but just their poor luck in being confined inside the hive for two months their first year. I have fed them almost constantly since the end of August. First 2:1 then dry sugar after Thanksgiving. I gave them Megabee in late August, thinking that if they couldn't get nectar, they couldn't get pollen either, but they didn't take to it at all.

As of 1-18-10 the cluster seems to be slightly smaller than a month ago but still covering 6 frames. I didn't dare examine any frames because it was only 60 degrees but I did give them 2 more pounds of sugar (they've taken 5lbs total so far). I'm planning to add Megabee patties next week and maybe switch back to syrup (all local beeks agree it's still too early for anything but 2:1) depending on what the weatherman says.

IF this hive makes it through the spring how likely is she to decide to swarm? Especially if I expand with strips rather than foundation or drawn comb? For the record, the 3 who said "No" cite the dearth of stores and room to expand, the "Yes" votes think I may not notice an early buildup with some part Russian genetics.

Thanks in advance!
 

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Not being familiar with your seasonal weather conditions this would only be a guess. I would expect, given 6 frames of bees now and feeding as well, that sometime in mid March ( or whenever you get your first 75 degree days ) is when they will likely swarm.

Fuzzy
 

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You should not stress your self with `worry', but you should be concerned, aware, cautious, calculating, expecting, planning on, preemptive etc.
 

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Re: Should I worry about swarming in my second year?

"worry swarming"? It sounds like you probably mean, "worry about swarming".

Being concerned that your hives may swarm, depends on many different variables.

It depends mostly on the purpose you intend for your bees. Are you keeping them for honey production, queen production, production of more colonies, or etc. If you're keeping bees just for the joy of keeping them and observing their behaviors, watching them swarm is an amazing thing. Some beekeepers encourage swarming just to watch them happen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You should not stress your self with `worry', but you should be concerned, aware, cautious, calculating, expecting, planning on, preemptive etc.
Yes, you think like me! The hive is in my back yard so I look under the inner cover weekly when it is sunny and over 55 degrees. If it's over 65, I might pull a frame or two. I'm pretty sure I would notice if they get crowded. I might not notice swarm cells from the luck of the draw if they build them at that temp range. I can guarantee you that the first time my thermometer reaches 75 (maybe even only 70 if it sunny and calm) I will do a full inspection. Our main honey flow is usually around April with another lesser one around September.

I can't decide if I want to do walk away splits or intentionally introduce a store-bought queen. I should better decide soon if you think a couple of 75 degree days is all it takes. That could happen next week!
 

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"worry swarming"? It sounds like you probably mean, "worry about swarming".
Yeah, very embarrassing typo on my part. Of course it's "about swarming".

I'm in it for my garden, which was 200X more productive after I got the girls, and the sheer joy. I wouldn't mind/hope to throwing a swarm when my girls are well established. I guess the question should really be "Should I worry about throwing a swarm with the state my girls are in?"

If they're up to throwing a swarm does that mean they're healthy? I don't need honey. It would be nice, but not necessary. I just adore my grandbees and want them to prosper.
 

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Re: Should I worry about swarming in my second year?

It sounds as though it should be a while yet before your colonies are strong enough to swarm.

You should also be able to edit to correct the title in your original post as I have in my own posts.
 

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You should not stress your self with `worry', but you should be concerned, aware, cautious, calculating, expecting, planning on, preemptive etc.
I totally agree. Since you can't predict the swarm, than don't worry about it. Why don't you look weekly at your bees and squash the queen cells or put them in a split? That is what I do and I rarely have as swarm (knock on wood:eek:)
My 2 cents
Mike
 

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When your bees start building up, which should be soon, put another brood box on them to give the queen room to move into. If you have to use foundation then move one or two frames of open and capped brood up into the upper box and replace them with foundation frames. The bees swarm when they're crowded and the queen has few places to lay eggs. You might also consider putting out a swarm trap nearby with a swarm lure or some lemongrass oil to draw the scouts. Good chance of catching your own swarm and getting another hive! I don't recommend squashing queen cells, in case they do swarm, and you're left with a queenless, broodless box of bees. Once you have queen cells it's a sure bet those bees will swarm in spite of your preparations, as they've already made up their minds to leave.
 

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it sounds like they're doing pretty well and being well taken care of
if they build up and look strong in the spring you could split then to replace the one you lost
If they do swarm, be happy, they only do that when they think they are strong enough to reproduce:)

Dave
 

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if these are good bees than why is swarming a bad thing? i say it is a good way to get a new hive setup with out having to buy another package.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Re: Should I worry about swarming in my second year?

I worry about swarming because this hive is only a year old and started in a very bad year that could repeat so neither might survive through no fault of their own and because I'm suburban and don't want to annoy the neighbors. The neighbors don't know yet, and I'd rather introduce them to the concept with local honey as a present after they've noticed the considerable increase in their zucchini and cucumber yield.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I actually do hope some of my girls throw a swarm in a year or two. Good for the environment, genetic diversity, etc. However, I don't think my girls are ready for that right now.

Thanks everyone! I feel a lot more secure in my management techniques.
 

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Like you, Claressa, I don't mind my hives throwing an occasional swarm. It is my way of helping nature re-establish feral bees. Lord knows we need a lot more out there.

That said you should figure your bees WILL swarm. That's what they do to propagate the species. You have to decide whether you want to have swarms to repopulate the feral population, or if you want to control your swarming for the benefits of your honey crop. Walt Wright, George Imirie (Pink Pages - wonderful reading!) and others describe what one does to minimize swarming. Other posts are correct, you don't want to squash queen cells you find, as you might end up with a queenless, and then dead, colony.

If you want another hive or two, make an artificial swarm - split your colony as it builds up. Let the split raise their own queen. Or if you find queen cells in your colony, make the split that way. That deals with the swarm impulse, and gives you another colony. If you don't want another colony, then as your honey flow comes on, reunite your artificial swarm with the parent colony via the newspaper method. Voila! You have a gang-buster colony that has now requeened, and should produce a bumper crop of honey for you. And you're back to only one colony.
Have fun, and good luck!
Steven
 

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When you say "make the split that way", do you mean place the frames with the queen cells along with some frames of honey into a nuc or other hive body making sure the queen stays with the original hive? As a 2nd year keeper, if I were to do this, I would have to replace the missing frames with undrawn foundation. Put hose to the outside?
 

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I made a walk away split last year with one deep frame of eggs and one frame of honey at the end of june.they made there own queen.there still alive they have 2 frmes of bees left.my first flow starts on march 1st.there russian/carnolian open mated....As far as swarming they will swarm if given half the chance.especially because there comb is built already they fill the comb quite fast.:popcorn:
 

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"make the split that way", do you mean place the frames .. queen cells ... nuc or hive body making sure the queen stays with the original hive? As a 2nd year keeper.... undrawn foundation. Put those to the outside?
1st ? = yes
2nd ? = Less likely to get drawn on outside. Best if between frames of brood 1 at a time unless there is still a strong population of bees. Then put both between brood frames with a frame of brood(or 2) seperating the 2 foundation and brood on the outside of both foundation frames.
 

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When you say "make the split that way", do you mean place the frames with the queen cells along with some frames of honey into a nuc or other hive body making sure the queen stays with the original hive? As a 2nd year keeper, if I were to do this, I would have to replace the missing frames with undrawn foundation. Put hose to the outside?
Yes, when I make splilts, I leave the queen with the parent colony, and either introduce a new queen to the split, or let them raise a queen. This year I'll be doing 14 splits, let them raise their own, and 6 splits with new introduced queens.

And like you, I'm replacing the missing frames with new frames, foundationless. I'm switching over to foundationless this year. And of course feed feed feed to get them to draw comb. As I understand the process, the new frame goes between the brood comb and the outside pollen/honey frame. then keep adding next to the brood nest. That is supposed to get straight brood comb.
Regards,
Steven
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thank you everyone for your helpful advice! I checked my girls today and they seem considerably heavier than last time with dry sugar feed. I also added a small Megabee patty (wary of SHB, which were my bane last year.) The cluster width (can't pull a frame due to low temps to gauge the depth) is the same as in November. I have a friend, about 5 miles away, with a blueberry grove/large patch that can supply me with some early-ish resources. Thus, I think, maybe, I will be able to make a split this year, but I've also ordered another package, just in case.

I like the (superseded) queen I have. She is gentle and very hygienic. I often saw a bee curl around a SHB then fly away with it. The varroa counts went down from 80 in the package to about 20 with three times more bees by the end of the season. I hope she does throw a swarm...next year, after she's well established and has made a little surplus. I cannot stress enough that this was a very bad year to start keeping bees in my region.

Luckily, I'm not in this for honey or wax. I'm in this for my garden. As far as I'm concerned, my investment is already profitable considering last year's yields. I've attended several webinars from Brushy Mountain (y'all know about that, right? http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com/Resources/Videos.asp) and am much comforted that if she still looks good by March I'll probably be okay. Also, that commercial queen breeders are just as good if not better than historically. So, even if something untoward happens, all is not lost.

Thank you!!!
 

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"Luckily, I'm not in this for honey or wax."

Claressa,

You may not be in it for the honey but the bees ARE !!. If you do not properly deal with it they will fill the hive and then proceed to swarm themselves to death. So, make a plan to keep them with enough empty space or suffer the consequences.

Fuzzy
 
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