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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have an overwintered hive that I'm hoping will try to swarm, because I want to make up splits and use swarm cells. The earliest swarms in my area are around March 25; more typically they get going the first or second week or April. The weather has been too cold to do a good inspection, but the hive is booming.

Last season, I left a green drone frame on the outer edge of the upper box, just to fill space. The hive is four 8-frame mediums, so this frame is really out of the way. I lifted the lid today, and that frame is full of capped drone brood.

So, looks good, but I can't get in there to look for swarm cells! It's been getting into the mid-to-high 50's, with ~35-degree nights. I tried (for the first time) to tilt back a box to look between them, but there was so much bridge comb that I could barely separate them, and when I did, I probably squished quite a few bees (between the upper and lower bridge comb) setting them back together. I only did this between the top two boxes; I didn't do the others for fear of destroying queen cells or squishing the active queen.

Friday and Saturday might get into the mid 60's. I've only made walkaway splits in the past (two of them), and they were both successful.

My questions:

1. How warm does it have to be to pull frames and (hopefully) make splits?

2. Can I make splits with any open, wet swarm cells (full of royal jelly), or do I need to wait until they are pretty large?

3. If I find swarms cells that are already capped, is it too late to split? Does this indicate the hive has already swarmed?

4. I see lots of pictures of an upper brood box tilted back to see swarm cells, but my bees have effectively glue the upper frames to the lower ones. Is there some trick I'm missing?

Thanks for your help :)
 

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In Mid Missouri, I'm waiting until 3/25 like you. My plan is to take the queen and 1 frame and put them in a 2 frame nuc. The rest of the hive should start queen cells. Right now they have 6 frames of brood so I should have 5 frames of brood to use as 5 nucs with each having 1 to 2 queen cells each. I may have to remove some queen cells and put them on frames without them. My eyes haven't let me graft so this will be my method of expanding and dealing with seasonal losses.

By the way, 50's during the day and 40's at night is what I'm shooting for before I go through and do my first rearrangement in the spring.

Good Luck
 

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1 mid 60’s is good, I always go by if your comfortable in shirt sleeves your good to go.
2 it would be optimum to have sealed cells, but a older uncapped cell has already been fed well and near being sealed would suffice (IMO).
3 I have found the queen in hives that have sealed cells and are ready to swarm, but it’s likely they already have.
4 your going to have to separate the boxes sooner or later, I break the propolis seal all the way around, give the upper box a twist till the comb breaks loose (usually not more than less than a 1/4 turn). It sounds like there’s a violation of bee space if there’s that much burr comb being built up between the boxes.
Oldtimer just posted on “the easy way to break boxes apart” not too long ago.
Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Jim and Rod!

Looks like I'll be doing some work in a few days :)

Anyone else have any advice to add?

Spring! :D
 
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