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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Looking for feedback/advice from any who have had successes with Snelgrove (and thanks to those who answered my last post.) I'm not an organized thinker by nature , and doing the Snelgrove manipulation this morning made my head spin. Literally felt dizzy. Trying to process after the fact for learning. I really need a local mentor for this sort of thing...

This hive: four medium boxes packed with bees. One of the boxes was put in above a QE recently just to see if they were ready for it. There was already a lot of honey/nectar stored. Swarming not imminent, but maybe a week away. Found only two charged/ open queen cells on the outside face of an end frame (!). Since low chances of finding the queen in 30 frames covered with bees, (1 box was above QE) without a true ordeal, I did the procedure that's labeled swarm stopping split: left minimal supplies in bottom box for field bees to make queen cells (and to keep them from straying upstairs. The challenge was where to put the honey: just above the lowest box? Checkerboarding with empty supers? I gave two empty supers above a QE, then above the Snelgrove went everything else, which was three medium boxes packed with brood, pollen, honey. Probably enough for them to swarm. I guess this is where the door change comes in - to allow emerging/orienting bees over the next several days to move down. Then hopefully not enough for a swarm.

Maybe a colony this populous really should be split, to make it more manageable. But my inclination was to try leaving them intact and see if they might be super productive this season. I welcome any comments, opinions...
 

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I think you did well. Yes, two honey supers above the excluder on the bottom queenless box. The bottom box wont swarm and it will take them a while to make a queen and establish brood. You likely will have to give them a second medium later but no panic for now. You may be able to move down a box made up from selected frames from above the division board.

Yes you will want to do two changes of diverting doors to send the flying bees down to the lower box. Without the flying bees the boxes above the division board should not be able to swarm. Did you check them over for swarm cells. I have only worked with deeps, not mediums. I have not had the upper level get strong enough to need its own supers. That would make a tall stack! You should be able to keep its population down by diverting. Again in my short season I have not had that problem.

The first time or two does make your head spin!

Edit; afterthought; you will need more than 2 supers quite quickly. Though only one box below the excluder they will have no brood to feed and will pack away a lot of honey. You will have the working population spread throughout the boxes but you have to give them lots of super room so they dont plug the bottom box with honey.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I think you did well. Yes, two honey supers above the excluder on the bottom queenless box. The bottom box wont swarm and it will take them a while to make a queen and establish brood. You likely will have to give them a second medium later but no panic for now. You may be able to move down a box made up from selected frames from above the division board.

Yes you will want to do two changes of diverting doors to send the flying bees down to the lower box. Without the flying bees the boxes above the division board should not be able to swarm. Did you check them over for swarm cells. I have only worked with deeps, not mediums. I have not had the upper level get strong enough to need its own supers. That would make a tall stack! You should be able to keep its population down by diverting. Again in my short season I have not had that problem.

The first time or two does make your head spin!

Edit; afterthought; you will need more than 2 supers quite quickly. Though only one box below the excluder they will have no brood to feed and will pack away a lot of honey. You will have the working population spread throughout the boxes but you have to give them lots of super room so they dont plug the bottom box with honey.
Thanks. Affirmations all good! Oops - I left the two open queen cells up top. I thought I'd read that the main thing up top is that the queen would not be able to get enough bees to leave with her, as they're tending brood. (as I read in a summary: the bees who are least likely to leave the hive are the nurse bees on brood. ) And that any queen cells above the SB would be torn down by the bees. I did not tear out those two queen cells that I saw - maybe I need to go back an do that asap?

As for checking about supers for the bottom part, if I have to go in and check for queen cells in the bottom at Day 7-10 then that's an easy time to add supers if needed.

Also, interesting that Wally Shaw explains the point of putting the two frames of brood below is really to keep the field bees from straying up to where the queen is. He says Snelgrove observed that the bees below would catch the queen's scent above and then they'd crawl up the outside of the box to the Snelgrove entrance. So the brood in lower box isn't so much for getting emergency cells as it is to keep the field bees from leaving. Brood is apowerful magnet.

Just did the next SG manipulation and it was a breeze in comparison. Took me about 10 minutes. Didn't even try to look for the queen, just did the setup as with the first hive and closed them back up. I think practice will help me get comfortable with this procedure. I wonder, the folksat the University of Guelph say all they do for swarm control is to cut out queen cells every couple of weeks. Maybe I need to try that - along with keeping the bees from making a honey dome over the brood nest, a precondition for swarming. Seems like it'd be much easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The contradictions make me a bit crazy. On reviewing the pages I printed on Snelgrove manipulations, it sounds like leaving the queen withall the young bees is THE recipe for a swarm. Hmm. The other source says that's the way to prevent a swarm, because the nurse bees won't leave their brood. Hahhh. Maybe all I've done is to set the bees back by reorganizing their well organized hive.
 

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University of Guelph has all kinds of "free" labor to pinch the queen cells; students in the apiary program! Not this year though for Covid considerations. No queen sales either. I did do some queen cell plucking but it is not too hard with only a single deep.

Yes I see some people including Snelgrove claim the workers above will tear down the queen cells themselves because they sense the demographics are not right for swarming. Others say to pinch them. Unless you are going to use them I think pinching is a safe bet but Snelgrove was pretty methodical and not at all prone to flights of fancy so I trust what he claims. I have his book on queen rearing and even 80 years old does not seem to have much that is contradicted by recent "facts"

Perhaps initially before the flying bees are bled back to the lower box they might be closer to the swarm "chemistry". Dont know as I have only done queen on top a couple of times as I am quite proactive in swarm preps.

He does mention the bottom box getting back to swarm mode later if you do the division too early and or leave them too strong. I probably came close to that once but now throw in a few frames of undrawn foundation and wait a bit later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi Crofter, if you don't mind another question, I wonder if you have seen bees bearding like this after a Snelgrove manipulation? (This is the backside of the hive, of course.) It's just a few hours later. Thoughts are either 1) the upper level is just too congested or 2) the supers below the Snelgrove still have some residue of acetic acid which I used to keep wax moths at bay. They smelled okay to my nose and they'd been airing out with fan for a few days, but I'm just thinking possibilities here.

If possibly they're still too congested and maybe swarmy, I might need to really look for the queen and put her down below with the field bees. One way I can think of to do this is to leave everything in its current configuration, put queen excluders between all three top boxes today and then wait till the door change and look for eggs in each box. Ugh! Not something I want to do. It almost looks like there are way more nurse bees than field bees at this point.


Any thoughts?
62893
 

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I bet they will go in when it starts to get dark. Do you have a spray bottle? Make them think it is starting to rain. Sometimes after a door change the bees in lower box seem to guard the new entrance and there is a bit of confusion for half and hour but that is not the case in your pic.

If you left viable brood in lower box you should not have to check it. As long as you have fresh eggs after 4 days in the upper boxes you will know that the queen is up top. I might be overlooking the obvious but I am not seeing why you will have to go back in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The thought about visiting the upper level was just to ensure they're not making swarm preps. If indeed it is too crowded in there (and there were bees clustering on the inside of the top cover just like they're bearding outside the back exit) then they might try and swarm. i guess I'm thinking I should just take a quick look on day 5 for any queen cells.
 

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If you have a laying Queen above the SB and most frames are full of brood of various ages and packed with nurse bees it does not take but a few days for the nurse bees to graduate to flying bees. If they do not tear down the Queen cells you can be sure they will swarm.
My bees default positions seem to be swarm at every opportunity. I take the capped QCs from the top to create nucs. I not going to take any chances of the swarming out of the top box. I've been fooled before. This may not be a problem with your bees. This is another reason the timing and what to do can be so confusing. Snelgrove even alluded to the need for each beekeeper to understand their own bees and modify accordingly.
This being my third year using SBs, I am still not completely confident in my timing. I think you will get the hang of it soon.

Alex

PS. Reading Shaw's version only added to my confusion. I decided to just stick with Snelgrove. Now that I have a few years experience I may go back and read Shaw's paper again.

Alex
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If you have a laying Queen above the SB and most frames are full of brood of various ages and packed with nurse bees it does not take but a few days for the nurse bees to graduate to flying bees. If they do not tear down the Queen cells you can be sure they will swarm.
My bees default positions seem to be swarm at every opportunity. I take the capped QCs from the top to create nucs. I not going to take any chances of the swarming out of the top box. I've been fooled before. This may not be a problem with your bees. This is another reason the timing and what to do can be so confusing. Snelgrove even alluded to the need for each beekeeper to understand their own bees and modify accordingly.
This being my third year using SBs, I am still not completely confident in my timing. I think you will get the hang of it soon.

Alex

PS. Reading Shaw's version only added to my confusion. I decided to just stick with Snelgrove. Now that I have a few years experience I may go back and read Shaw's paper again.

Alex
So do you go back and inspect the upper portion after a few days? Or just remove all queen cells at time of setting up the Snelgrove split?
 

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Yes, in view of the fact that they could have cells capped in even four days it would be safer to check even sooner. They can swarm even before the first cell is capped. The top boxes are easy to access.

Just reading your last post. If you are not planning on using started cells, pinch them as you are setting up. Still go back and recheck if they are starting more. I dont remember now if you mentioned whether queen had shut down laying. I think the risk is higher immediately after splitting and before the flying bees have all gone back to the bottom box. You did open a door to let them out?
 

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So do you go back and inspect the upper portion after a few days? Or just remove all queen cells at time of setting up the Snelgrove split?
If you want to make increase you could make two frame splits with the cells or you could just pinch them, either way your laying Queen needs to be in the bottom. I like to make splits and hold them as insurance against new Queens not returning from mating flights.
Just keep checking the top box for eggs, this will tell you where she is. If she is in the top box catch her and put her at the entrance of the hive, she should walk right in. Do this before you pinch any Queen cells. If she flies away or gets hurt you could then place one of the frames with a QC in the bottom box. That would be more work but would stave off a disaster.

Alex
 

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I would have to go back and read the posts from the start. Seems like we changed boats in midstream. Is this to be a swarm interruption with the queen, brood, started cells in the top box and the older and flying bees in the bottom with viable brood enough to make a new emergency queen in the bottom. Or is the assumption that the new queen is to be produced in the box(es) above the double screen board. Either can work but you have to get clear at the outset what the outcome is to be.

You can also pull the queen out with a couple of frames of bees and create a new queen in both top and bottom of the Snelgrove board.
 
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