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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I hope that by listening to your advises I will be able to draw a plan and act quickly.
I found several abandoned hives in makeshift plywood and office paper boxes last december, this particular one was in a makeshift plywood box. It was heavy with lots of honey and lots of bees, drones in December.
I transferred them on the 28th of January, a nice warm75F weather into 10 frame supers, the comb fit the super size better than deeps and I would like to go with supers anyway. Filled up 2 supers and had some leftover honey. Had brood, capped, uncapped, drone cells.
I did my first check today - I think I should have checked them a week earlier at least and found that there are no eggs, uncapped or capped brood but 6-8 queen cells on 2 frames. Some uncapped, some capped, could hear the emerging queen squealing.
Our main nectar flow is not coming for another 2 weeks, the bees are gathering nectar but not building comb. I am a first year geek, have 10 hives. Going foundation-less.
I am looking for help what would be the most efficient way dealing with this situation. Brainstorming and coming up with some possibilities:
- queen emerges, kills all the others and there are no drones to mate with or weather is too cold(or not too many drones - my other hives have capped drone cells). Loosing the colony.
- should I separate the 2 frames that have the queen cells on them and split the colony to give them a higher chance to have 2 queens emerging and hoping the they could mate.
- should I place empty old comb - I have some that I can fit into super frames into the hive?
- I am afraid that by now the workers are filling all the cells with nectar and there is not much for the queen - if she will be able to mate - to lay eggs which will encourage swarming.
- I really wanted her genetics to go on since they were survivors.
- I could split them and cut some capped brood out from my deep frames and keep adding it to the hive to keep their numbers up. I have a couple of hives that are doing really well and could use some empty space to draw comb, this may even help with swarm prevention on these hives.

these were my initial thoughts and I am sure there are other ways to deal with it that I am not aware of so please if you have some time let me know how you would deal with the situation like this.
Our temperature is mid 80's from noon to 3.30PM dropping to mid 40's during the night. I am in an organic 17 acre citrus avocado orchard with lots of residential well cared for gardens and plenty of flowers all year round.

Your thoughts and your time is very much appreciated.

Dávid
 

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With your temps and flows, I'd say you may very well have drones in the area, or will by the time the queens need to mate. If that hive is strong enough, I'd split it into two, equally, giving each half a frame with queen cells, this would double my chances of getting continuation of those genetics. If it's not strong enough to split in half, then I'd leave it be the way it is and keep watch on it. It's hard to give advice as I'm not in your yard in your location seeing what you see, so this is just thoughts from what you've described as your wish for these genetics and the conditions of the weather there at this time.
 

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From everything I'm reading here, it seems Calif, Florida and the South in general is going to have a very early swarm season ! Halfway through February, and it doesn't seem to just be one off's really, from what I can tell, it's the beginning of a basic theme. Not that I mind, I need free-bees ! :)
 

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I agree with jrg and ray even though you don't necessarily have drones yourself there is a pretty good chance that somebody else around you has some hives with mature drones ready to take the flight of their life. We have had drones all winter in some of our yards.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
With your temps and flows, I'd say you may very well have drones in the area, or will by the time the queens need to mate. If that hive is strong enough, I'd split it into two, equally, giving each half a frame with queen cells, this would double my chances of getting continuation of those genetics. If it's not strong enough to split in half, then I'd leave it be the way it is and keep watch on it. It's hard to give advice as I'm not in your yard in your location seeing what you see, so this is just thoughts from what you've described as your wish for these genetics and the conditions of the weather there at this time.
I ended up splitting them into 2. five frames had honey in each 10 frame supers, had plenty of nursing bees and hope the foraging ones will come back to both hives. There were scattered capped brood - small enough until Monday when I will be able to cut some from deeps and give it to these 2 split ones. 1 frame of capped brood should hold them over for the next week and within 2 weeks the queen if she was able to mate will be back and should start laying. Just saw one queen emerge, heard another one piping in the other hive after the split. Actually saw one of the virgin ones outside on the edge of the hive. In case I need I can gather another set of brood from other hives too. I just realized that it was my first split and even though this is the most exciting time for me to manage the hives it kind of freaked me out since it happened so early. I have been planning on doing this later after the flow and not this early. Took some pictures from a video and this is what it looked like. Hoping that each hive has at least one virgin queen in it by now. I placed 2 of the still capped cells into one of the hives.
What surprised me was that even though there were (was a ) virgin queen(s) in the hive they did not kill the other ones. there were 2 more capped queen cells. My timing could not happened to be a a better one splitting them and I guess it is part of the "game"!!
Thank you for all the help.

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 9.12.23 PM.jpg Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 9.13.15 PM.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Have not had a call yet for swarm removal but expecting some before the end of the month. The nectar flow is 2-3 weeks earlier than in previous years. I have had less that 50% chance of survival for the swarms last year and wonder what this drought will bring.
 

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My timing could not happened to be a a better one splitting them and I guess it is part of the "game"!!

Yes, and now it is "Game On!"
Best of luck, it's looking good from here, hopefully both of the splits will do very well for you.
 
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