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Hi all,
I have been a very leisurely haver of bees off and on for probably around 8 years. Some years with one or two hives and others with none, but never took it too seriously except the last two years when I finally dug in and tried to be a more educated and active beekeeper. Anyway, I have 13 colonies now that are all still alive and overwintered out of 14 I had going into winter. I would like to use most of my colonies this year to increase my hive numbers with splits etc. and devote maybe two hives to honey production. I have read that overwintered queens are highly likely to swarm in their existing hives if some splitting isn't done. My question is if this is still the case if these are relatively young queens (mated in late June last year)? If I give them plenty of room with empty drawn comb to hamper the swarm impulse should I have the opportunity for a decent honey crop without splitting them? The ones I am hoping to use for honey production are currently in double ten frame boxes. Going into winter top box was mostly honey and bottom brood nest.

Secondary question, if my bees have made it this far through winter am I yet "over the hump?" To beekeepers with low mite counts and plenty of food in their boxes do you still experience much hive loss after this much winter has gone by?

Thank you!
 

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Queens mated in June are not really newly mated, they laid eggs all summer long.

"over the hump"...........a lot depends on this, cluster size for one, mite/virus load, how much stores are left when brood really ramps up just before a good flow comes on, did you treat earlier in the year, did they brood up during this warm spell, is there winter patties on

Keep a good eye on them, lifting the hive to see how much stores they have is very beneficial!! With the warm snap we had I was surprised at several hives that all of a sudden went light weight on me. Winter patties were installed and will be watched as winter progresses. Not too worried about opening a hive in cold weather to feed, is better than them starving out. Just be prepared and quick, not goofing around, in other words have a plan together.
 

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I have had good luck keeping swarming impulses down by running extremely large hives. Right now my full size hives are sitting at 4-5 boxes (1 deep on bottom + mediums). I think this helps with the swarm impulse because the bees don't feel as crowded and always have lots of room to work. Some years some hives do not move the brood nest back into the bottom deep, and other years they do. I figure as long as the queen is laying right and staying out of the supers I dont care if she is laying in a box that is 2-4 up in the stack. When I have had strong hives in the spring (and the fall before) I usually end up with 2-4 suppers of honey. If a hive was weak going into the fall it may not generate much/any extra honey that year. In the 5 years I have been keeping bees (with 1-4 hives) I have caught 2 that were trying to swarm, split one my second year, and done some frame manipulations in others.

I would not consider you over the hump until April or May (depending on your location). A lot of hives get lost in February, March, and April because the store consumption goes way up in the spring as the hives are getting ready for a spring flow. If your hives are light be ready to feed them.
 
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