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I had a hive that was booming after it was split in early spring. I just noticed a lot of swarm cell activity that has taken place in the last 7 days. Approximately 5 frames in two deeps had 2-5 swarm cells each. They did not seem to want to draw the super I placed 3 weeks ago, and only now just started drawing it out. It was too late though. I don't have spare empty comb to swap in. Do I have any options besides splitting again? How do other beekeepers keep massive hives with multiple supers on them without them swarming? Is it just proper timing on placing the supers?
 

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A week ago I was pretty ****sure with swarm management via splits, agressive supering, and checkerboarding. Then this weekend happened. One in the trees on Friday, last seen heading North. One in the trees today, got that one into a box.

Strange thing is that these two were the last I was expecting to swarm.

So, nothing to add here expect a little humble pie, and looking forward to hearing the input of others to your question.
 

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Deleted, since you have no other hives to place frames in.
You have to have spare equipment and spare frames (even if totally empty frames) at all times.
There are plenty of options until you have no more equipment - then you have zero conventional options.

Well, of course there are options always (it is the conventional thinking that gets into the way - a typical problem).

Have a computer box with ad-hoc top bars (any pieces of wood, however attached - be creative).
Find the queen and transfer into the computer box (in a cage temporarily attached to one of the top-bars).
However you do it - move the current hive with the frames away.
Have the computer box in its place.
Make an entrance into the box , of course.
You made yourself a fly-back split.
The workforce will return to the computer box and will have to start from zero - you just basically swarmed them.
Once they settle in (maybe next day), release the queen and they are as good as a just captured swarm and have their urge satisfied.
While they start making new combs on the provided bars, you have 2-3 days to urgently purchase new equipment for your fly-back split. Then you do a cut-out and transfer the bees into a brand new hive.

Anyway way you do it - need to have a new piece of equipment in the end (buy or build).
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Johnny, Greg's advuce is spot on IMO for your situation. Use whatever box and some sticks of wood you have available to get the queen and a few frames of bees out of the hive. If you try this and it fails, you have lost nothing. The bees will be gone in a day or two anyway.

Another thing to remember. Like ammo, there is no such thing as too much wooden ware. Be prepared for the next time.
 

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Can you make a screen board? Screen stapled to a shim will work. You could try separating the bulk of the hive from the foragers. Place the queen,queen cells and as much capped and open brood in one box above the screen board. Give them an upper entrance. With luck, they will tear down the queen cells and abandon swarming for a while. It will buy you time.
I have done this with a Snelgrove board, but not sure you need a double screen for it to work. If you already use an U E, some foragers will join the queen but may not be enough to swarm. JW, Greg...thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I had never heard of doing things that way until you mentioned it but it makes sense. Are you only transferring the queen to the computer box and letting the foragers return? No nurse bees or capped brood starting with them too? Or are you still splitting in the sense that you are providing the queen with a few frames of stores and various stages of brood?

I imagine this brings honey production to a screeching halt as well. Is the best swarm control method just having empty comb and swapping out frames to open up space? Or can timely super placement do the trick? Last season was my first and it took me that long to recognize the signs of a swarm. Now that I can recognize that, I am trying to learn the best way to deal with it. Whether that is always splitting, or introducing empty comb, or methods like what you described. Thanks for the input.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I will be getting some backup hives for sure. Now I understand how important it is to have extra equipment when the need arises. I am curious how other beekeepers, especially those focused on honey production, navigate through a swarming condition while retaining the bees and thus the continued honey production. Is empty comb and timely supering the answer there?
 

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Thanks for the reply. How exactly do the foragers factor into the swarm condition. I just assumed the queen finds limited room to lay and the instinct is triggered. Are the foragers only part of this equation because they are filling up the hive? Or does it result from an overpopulation of foragers or some other condition? This is interesting to me.
 

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Can you make a screen board? Screen stapled to a shim will work. You could try separating the bulk of the hive from the foragers. Place the queen,queen cells and as much capped and open brood in one box above the screen board. Give them an upper entrance. With luck, they will tear down the queen cells and abandon swarming for a while. It will buy you time.
I have done this with a Snelgrove board, but not sure you need a double screen for it to work. If you already use an U E, some foragers will join the queen but may not be enough to swarm. JW, Greg...thoughts?
FJ, Actually I like this alternative proposal.
In fact, I would even turn the upper entrance the opposite way to completely mess them up.
Still, without adding more equipment, this hive will continue to be a problem.
Am not sure however, the swarming mood will go away until strong enough shock.
 

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I had never heard of doing things that way until you mentioned it but it makes sense. Are you only transferring the queen to the computer box and letting the foragers return? No nurse bees or capped brood starting with them too? Or are you still splitting in the sense that you are providing the queen with a few frames of stores and various stages of brood?

I imagine this brings honey production to a screeching halt as well. Is the best swarm control method just having empty comb and swapping out frames to open up space? Or can timely super placement do the trick? Last season was my first and it took me that long to recognize the signs of a swarm. Now that I can recognize that, I am trying to learn the best way to deal with it. Whether that is always splitting, or introducing empty comb, or methods like what you described. Thanks for the input.
The idea is to work exactly as stated if you follow this route.
Think of the swarm - the arrive to a place with nothing.
So you give them nothing if want to exploit their swarming energy.
 

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Thanks for the reply. How exactly do the foragers factor into the swarm condition. I just assumed the queen finds limited room to lay and the instinct is triggered. Are the foragers only part of this equation because they are filling up the hive? Or does it result from an overpopulation of foragers or some other condition? This is interesting to me.
Everything in the hive is driven by the bees.
The queen just a tag-along (albeit is the most important tag-along).
She does what she is told; she is not the decision maker.
 

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Johnny,swarming is complex and not fully understood, but we know the queen and a bunch of other bees that fly (foragers to make it straightforward) leave the hive and establish a new one elsewhere. If you separate a queen from the bees that can fly, they can't swarm. A Snelgrove board accomplishes separating the foragers beautifully and allows one to continue to divert them to continue damping down the swarming impulse. J
 

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https://barnsleybeekeepers.org.uk/index.php/keeping-bees/swarm-control/snelgrove-method

http://www.wbka.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/The-Many-Uses-Of-A-Snelgrove-Board-by-Wally-Shaw.pdf

Here are two very informative links regarding Snelgrove Boards. This is the way to go to make your split.
You need not adhere to the design of the board. Use your existing inner cover. Just screen your inner cover center hole. Can screen either side if you wish. Point the entrance opening for the upper colony opposite the entrance of the lower, and you're good to go. If you've no entrance, cut a small one. For the upper chamber an inner cover simply cut out a piece of plastic from a drop cloth, shower curtain, or even a tee shirt, or use none at all, just the outer cover.

Remove the queen and most brood and all but one or two queen cells to the upstairs. You've effectively swarmed the colony. The new queen will emerge downstairs and mate. Most of the foragers will be retained - draining the upstairs population. This will give you time to secure the equipment you need without losing your bees.

Let us know how it turns out.
 
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