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Will a Queenless Hive Swarm?

2995 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Zbee
Will a queenless hive swarm? I have a queenless hive that seems to be quite full of honey. The bees are working hard. Have a queen on order, but wonder if I should add a super and move frames around to get ready for her. I have only a few frames of partial comb. My thought is to prepare the hive before she arrives so there is less disruption when I install her rather than moving everything around at the same time she is installed.

What is the best way to proceed? I do not want the bees to feel crowded and decide to leave before I get the queen.
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A queenless hive won't swarm. They need to leave with a queen so that their new colony can survive. No queen equals no brood. As far as getting ready for the new queen, I would add some space. In my experience, a queenless colony often does a great job packing in the nectar and making honey. You have more field bees because you need less nurse bees and the hive fills up quickly. It probably won't hurt to give them space now or at least when you're introducing the queen. In those situations I check to see if there is space in the bottom box. If there is and if the next box up is heavy with honey, I'll add a box right above the bottom box and put the heavy one on top. That give them more overhead space to work with and lets the new queen got to town laying eggs.
Exactly what to do and when to do it depends on what you find and your hive configuration If dealing with deep I would not want to put anything between the upper and lower chamber. I mean who wants 3 deeps, and you would not put a medium between two deeps. If the hive is not honey bound, which a hive that is queenless can easily be for the reasons Ravenseye stated. Then adding a super on top will give them ample room, If the hive is honey bound you may need to add some empty frames, or even extract a few if necessary..

If you run all mediums then the techniques described above would do the trick.

The main thing at this point is to be sure the queen has ample room to lay in.
" I mean who wants 3 deeps," I put up my hand when I read this.
Thanks, everyone, that helps.

I am running all mediums, with 2 boxes now full of honey and bees. I have about 1-1 1/2 frames of comb, so I think I will put a new box between the current boxes. I will put the comb in the new middle box, in the center, with honey frames on the outside. I will then put empty foundationless frames in the top box, mixed with the honey frames taken from the middle box. This should give the new queen some room to lay, and hopefully the bees will complete the comb frames in short order. As I understand it, once she starts laying the bees will either make new comb for her to lay in or will move honey to free up comb. I presume they will do this in a brood pattern they want, concentrated in the middle of the second box and expanding from there.

btw, if no new queen was provided to the bees would they just continue to work until they all died, leaving a dead hive full of honey?
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Careful with the honey super on top with empty foundationless frames. If you move frames of uncapped honey in that top box and add foundationless frames in between those honey frames, you may find that they draw the comb thicker and INTO the adjacent empty frame. Could be a real mess trying to get those frames out afterward ;)
Thanks, everyone, that helps.

btw, if no new queen was provided to the bees would they just continue to work until they all died, leaving a dead hive full of honey?
You'll likely get a laying worker hive, which means loads of drones. As the bees dwindle, the hive would be more prone to robbing and other pests that are kept at bay by a healthy and full hive - could be a real disaster in terms of giving you something usable.
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