Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, bee friends. This is a very standard noob question, but I'll ask for your patience as I've read many, many pages on this and still find myself confused.

I have a colony of Carniolans that successfully overwintered for the first time and is doing just gangbusters (and a second that failed and had to be restarted, but they're fine now too). I'm also in Connecticut, and we've had bizarre weather this year that has thrown my expectations out the window. Anyway, I suspected they would get ready to swarm since they were so strong; so I opened up some space by putting on supers and swapping in some undrawn frames, monitored for swarm cells and didn't see any, so all seemed to be well. Well... apparently I got a bit lax with my monitoring, because two days ago (May 15) I saw a large swarm in a tree about 50' from my hives. Doing a full inspection today I found there are still TONS of bees but no queen (but may well have missed her), lots of capped worker and drone cells but few larvae and no eggs, lots of honey, nectar, and pollen stores, and many swarm cells in various stages, both capped and uncapped. I had intended to make a split, but am frankly too inexperienced to fully interpret the situation and don't want to do the wrong thing so I've left them alone for the moment.


1. How do you interpret this situation? Do you think that swarm was from my hive? The proximity and lack of queen/eggs suggests to me that yes they already swarmed, but the number of bees, capped cells, larvae, and nectar/honey contradicts that. On a side note, I called another keeper to come take the swarm so they'll go to a good home either way.

2. What's your recommended course of action? If they haven't already swarmed, it seems at this point too late to stop them, no? There are so many options depending on the situation I'm not sure which way to go... I can split them to make a nuc, remove the swarm cells, (assuming they swarmed already) wait to see eggs from the new queen and THEN remove the swarm cells, leave them alone assuming they know better than me, etc.


Thanks for any advice. My goal is to maximize honey production, but the health of the colony is paramount. If it's too late to salvage for this year, I'll just chalk it up to a learning experience for next time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,827 Posts
To begin with I would remove all of the open swarm cells and some of the capped ones. I typically leave three or so capped cells that are on the bottom of the same frame.
That way...you've at least headed of the prospect of multiple afterswarms.
 

·
Moderator - In Memorium
Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
Joined
·
6,888 Posts
Based on the description, that swarm did come from your hive. Now you have a choice. Do you want more hives. If so, you can make splits with some of the cells and a bunch of the bees. If not, follow Dan's advice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
97 Posts
I think we are in the same boat. I had all kinds of plans for swarm prevention, did the research, formulated a plan, made a swarm trap just in case, got a double nuc to make some splits etc... Both hives came out of winter booming, awesome! I saw drone brood but no queen cells last week of April, ok, one more week perhaps? The very DAY I was heading down to inspect and split, they swarmed. It was awesome to see, but a bummer to loose.

So two weeks later I have capped queen cells, and some I am pretty sure emerged, but I didn't see any queensign or queens. Then today I had a swarm move into one of the queenless NUCs I had put a frame with cells on it 2 weeks ago, which I am pretty sure came from the hive that swarmed. No idea.

But I guess I need to have a closer look and maybe start picking off some of the queen cells so they wont keep swarming? I have one laying queen in a NUC, and if that swarm has a queen in the other NUC, even if I screw up at least I have two on deck that can go into my two main hives.
 

·
Registered
5 ,8 ,10 frame, and long Lang
Joined
·
2,529 Posts
Hello, bee friends. This is a very standard noob question, but I'll ask for your patience as I've read many, many pages on this and still find myself confused.

I have a colony of Carniolans that successfully overwintered for the first time and is doing just gangbusters (and a second that failed and had to be restarted, but they're fine now too). I'm also in Connecticut, and we've had bizarre weather this year that has thrown my expectations out the window. Anyway, I suspected they would get ready to swarm since they were so strong; so I opened up some space by putting on supers and swapping in some undrawn frames, monitored for swarm cells and didn't see any, so all seemed to be well. Well... apparently I got a bit lax with my monitoring, because two days ago (May 15) I saw a large swarm in a tree about 50' from my hives. Doing a full inspection today I found there are still TONS of bees but no queen (but may well have missed her), lots of capped worker and drone cells but few larvae and no eggs, lots of honey, nectar, and pollen stores, and many swarm cells in various stages, both capped and uncapped. I had intended to make a split, but am frankly too inexperienced to fully interpret the situation and don't want to do the wrong thing so I've left them alone for the moment.


1. How do you interpret this situation? Do you think that swarm was from my hive? The proximity and lack of queen/eggs suggests to me that yes they already swarmed, but the number of bees, capped cells, larvae, and nectar/honey contradicts that. On a side note, I called another keeper to come take the swarm so they'll go to a good home either way.

2. What's your recommended course of action? If they haven't already swarmed, it seems at this point too late to stop them, no? There are so many options depending on the situation I'm not sure which way to go... I can split them to make a nuc, remove the swarm cells, (assuming they swarmed already) wait to see eggs from the new queen and THEN remove the swarm cells, leave them alone assuming they know better than me, etc.


Thanks for any advice. My goal is to maximize honey production, but the health of the colony is paramount. If it's too late to salvage for this year, I'll just chalk it up to a learning experience for next time.
do your splits, make sure each split has a frame with Q cells, then parcel out the brood frames.then parcek out the stores so each is some what the same.

for a 20 frame hive 4 splits of 5 would be perfect.

Place the stores frame against the wall of the NUC, brood and bees in 2 and 4 , the Q cell frame at 3 in the center.
if you do not have NUC boxes , build the same in a 10 frame against 1 side, fill with empties.
be aware the old location will get a lot of the field bees so leave it the weakest.
reduce the entrance to 3 inches, NUCs make robbing targets, for stronger hives.

too bad you could not catch the swarm

GG
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replies so far, folks. I don't have the material available to make more hives at the moment or would certainly have kept that swarm, and so making a bunch of splits is similarly out for right now. I'll certainly keep it in mind for next year, but right now the goal is keeping this colony strong and productive.

So along those lines, it looks like I'll follow Dan's advice and knock off but a few of the capped queen cells, let them raise their new queen and at least stave off cast swarms. Then hopefully go get me some honey.

If anybody else has advice along the lines of that goal, I'm certainly all ears.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,433 Posts
Lol, you will find that you NEED lots of boxes....

Follow Dan's advice this year, it's about the only choice you have if you don't have boxes to make splits.

Look around, there is probably a bee club in your area, and someone will be able to help you out (I've provided boxes, woodwork, frames and foundation, and swarm catching services for newbies fairly often).

Next year, you need to study up and decide what you want to do to prevent swarming. Undrawn foundation does not, sadly, help in preventing swarms like empty drawn comb does, and if you want to try to keep the brood nest open by inserting drawn but empty frames, you will still need a hive to put the ones you remove into.

We've all been there -- I lost a wonderful hive when I first started out, let it swarm instead of doing the walk-away split I was planning and it ended up queenless and the wax moths got it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
878 Posts
I read somewhere to pay attention to the entrance. I can now tell if a hive is doing well or not just based on the activity at the entrance. I can tell if there's brood present, a queen, or not. It is interesting to see if the bees look aimless then they probably are and need some attention. Why I say this is once you remove all of those q-cells leave the hive alone for about a month. Watch the entrance. I about a week they won't be bringing any pollen in or very little. Then in about 2 more weeks they will be bringing in buckets of pollen in assuming the queen has made it back and is laying. The pollen coming in means that there is open brood that needs to be fed. Give it the last week and then you'll have capped brood in the hive. Only at this stage can you know if the queen is mated and you can see her pattern. If there's capped worker brood then you're in business. Give them plenty of room to put on the honey for you. I had a queen once that didn't get mated properly and when I checked she looked beautiful but there was only capped drone brood in the hive. I was too green to understand what had happened and didn't fix it. The SHB, ants, and wax moths did a good job of fixing it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
105 Posts
I don’t know where you are in CT but you could buy a nuc box or two from Bee Commerce in Newtown. I realize you don’t want to make a ton of splits but you could hedge your bets, take a split with two brood frames and a frame with queen cells and the cull all but a few of the cells out of the main hive. That way if you missed some cells and that hive does go through a second swarm or the queen dies on her mating flight you have another queen and by then 5 frames of brood to boost the hive before winter.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well, it's done... hive is winnowed down to the three nicest-looking capped queen cells. I'll hope they rear a good one and get back to business.

And yeah, my winter task is "build one million hive bodies and nuc boxes." Thanks for the advice, everybody. I'll get this hobby figured out eventually.
 

·
Moderator - In Memorium
Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
Joined
·
6,888 Posts
One million might be a tad bit overkill. 500K should do the trick!

One thing we all learn as beekeepers is that you can never have too much woodenware (or drawn combs).
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top