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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
About ten days ago I had two colonies that were boiling over with bees already. I have had a real good pollen flow and they filled everything up with pollen, brood or nectar. Monday I went to add boxes to these colonies. I was hoping that it would not be to late and swarm prepping had not happened. I was also under the assumption that it was to early for them to even think about (northern Wisconsin). When I checked the first I did not find anything alarming and added a box. The second, when I tipped up the top box I counted almost thirty queen cups built since my last inspection a week ago. I found a few drones and quit a bit of drone brood. I also found quite a bit of drone brood in the other one too I guess. I also found queen cups built in scattered locations on sides of frames. I know there was well in excess of thirty queen cups built in a weeks time. I did not find jelly or eggs in the few I poked around in.

So My question is, do you think they are going to swarm? Will they build this many queen cups in such a short time for nothing?

I plan to try and look at them Mondays and Thursdays if I can. If I see larva in them I plan on making up nucs and hoping for good mating weather.

Oh, I added a box and put empty drawn comb in position 3,5, and 7 in all three boxes. Hopefully this will change their mind for now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Now, I actually hope your right. I set up two swarm lures about 100 yards away in tree stands and have one in the yard as well in case I miss it. With all the drone brood I seen in the works I should be ok as long as I get good weather for mating. Of course my cam battery was dead when I wanted to take picks. Next time I check I will try to post a pick of all the queen cups or maybe queen cells by then.

If I catch the queen cells before they are capped, can I just split the hive in four leaving queen cells in all four? Will the queen still swarm if I put her in a full box with half empty combs? What if I put her in a brood-less colony?
 

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If I catch the queen cells before they are capped, can I just split the hive in four leaving queen cells in all four? Will the queen still swarm if I put her in a full box with half empty combs? What if I put her in a brood-less colony?
They probably won't swarm even if you just split it in half... especially if you open up the brood nest with a few empty frames between the brood frames.
 

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How old are your queens? If the queens are under a year they seem much less prone to swarming. When I do find active queen cells I remove the queen, leave and least two queen cells in the original hive. I'll then steal at least 3 frames of capped brood with at least two queen cells and start a nuc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
They are a year or less. I think they swarmed last year because I found what was left of queen cells and no brood, eggs, or larva at the time. I learned my lesson with queen excluders last year, LOL. Much the same thing is going on right now except they backfilled everything with pollen instead of honey. If I would have been smarter, I would have been stealing frames of pollen and giving them to colonies in a deferent location that have not been building up and have little or no pollen available apparently.
 

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WI:
Wow!! Your bees are two months ahead of schedule. Mine are a month behind schedule. You must have got our mild late winter weather.

Yours have completed the up-front swarm preps and yes, they will backfill with pollen if nectar is scarce. I would expect them to be on hold until nectar is plentiful. To issue a swarm without field nectar, raw material for wax making, is to condemn them to failure. They may be on hold for a week or a month, but when they perceive adequate field nectar, they will populate those Q cups. Tell the folks in your area to expect an early swarm season.

Walt
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Walt

Two of five are. One is about a box full, the other two between three and four frames of bees. I used candy board feeders on top with basically fondant for over winter feed. By January/Feburary they were up in the sugar and Im assuming raising brood. I could not believe it when It warmed up enough to do a though inspection and finding about ten frames with brood in the two colonies that were full of bees. Im pretty sure they got some nectar somewhere by the way it looked. Im thinking from the maple. We had temps up to 80 when it should have been maple sap time. Right now they have all the box elder pollen they could want and I think thats almost a month ahead of last year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Here are some pics of one of the two colonies I'm talking about. This is not the one with the queen cups. The battery went dead shortly after going through this one. This colony had two deeps and a medium for winter. The rest had two deeps. I also did not treat this hive. I found mites in the drone brood that I scraped off between boxes. I had not feed any syrup at date of these pics.

http://s642.photobucket.com/albums/uu144/mofrapy/

The photos are not organized right. They should be reversed. They should be looked at like you were reading a book backwards starting at bottom right.

If I get good weather Monday I will try to get some pics of cups if anyone is interested.
 

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We have so many maples here that I can't keep track of them all. I think box elder is in the maple family. Most of them have nectar, but in the early season colonies are preoccupied with pollen, and if they have ample overhead honey reserve, use very little nectar from those sources. Locally, the bees were socked in by weather for nearly the full month that the varieties of maple bloomed. Redbud that normally peaks at 3/4 Mar is now just fading - a full two weeks or more late.

Asked at our meeting on the 12th who had seen a swarm. One beek had seen one. At that time our repro season should have been phasing down. Just more evidence that colonies key on perception of forage availibility. (Has nothing to do with the "day length" theories of yesteryear.)

Walt
 
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