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Two of my colonies are jam packed as of last weekend and I am worried about swarming. I'm in SE Michigan with daytime temps forecast to be below 60F for the next 10 days. I really don't want to go in the nest when it's so cold so I am open to suggestions about what to do. Usually, our swarm season isn't until mid May but the climate has been getting warmer much earlier than 10 years ago. Should I open the brood nest & look OR should I wait?
 

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If there are many signs of swarming and you're concerned it wouldn't hurt to tip the hive body and look underneath for swarm cells. If there are none, then I wouldn't worry about it. If there are, they will likely swarm out on the first warm day you get if you don't interfere.

It certainly won't hurt them to have a peak at the warmest time of the day and would certainly be better than losing them. Especially if they are out flying and growing fast enough for you to be concerned, they'll be strong enough to not be effected by a peek.
 

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Lately I've been reading about the effects of temperature on brood development, and it does seem that being chilled can retard it. However, you have to balance that with the potential loss of bees heading for the hills when the weather suddenly gets better. I've had cold, wet Springs where, on the first warm, sunny day I've had to run around getting swarms out of trees.

According to what I've been reading, a short exposure to cooler than optimal temperatures will not hurt too much, so as long as you make your checks quickly and there are plenty of bees covering the frames you're not going to do a lot of damage. A few years ago I had a hive get blown over during a blizzard with high winds. The cover was gone and the boxes were on their sides in the snow...might have been as much as two days before I found them like that. Surprisingly***, they were still clustered and didn't seem much bothered by their condition, temps were high 20s/low 30s IIRC. I put them back together and they did fine. I don't know how much brood they might have had because I didn't pull any frames to look.

If I were you, and I thought they might be likely to swarm, I would look and make splits if I found cells. In fact, after the snowstorm I'm forecasted to get this weekend I'm probably going to be doing it- they've been bringing in pollen for some weeks now and I think I really need to get in and see what's going on. Those hives went from nucs to swarms in just about a month's time last year so I'm thinking they've got some pretty *****in queens and I don't want to lose them (they were new queens last year).

***(When I noticed the boxes had been blown over, I truly expected that there would be nothing but dead bees and I was amazed to see them still doing their thing.)
 
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