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rae 

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8 and 3 nucs...it's swarm time...
This morning, we had two colonies, now we appear to have four!

We had planned on a bit of honey extraction this weekend, but the woman in Thornes was right, it wasn't capped yet, so we left the supers in place. On the colony with the split brood, we went through the 14x12 with hods of capped brood and larvae, and carefully inspected every play cup - nothing. Then we went through the lower box. Frame 3...ZOMG...what is that? That'll be a queen cell with a big fat larva curled up in the bottom in a pool of jelly. There were several more on other frames.

A quick panic, thankfully we had an empty hive sitting next door. Literally reading the book in one hand, and moving hives at the same time, we did an artificial swarm. Old queen is on a new brood box contain one frame of capped brood, a frame of stores and loads of foundation, with supers, on the old site. Old brood box is to the right, with several queen cells - we'll let the bees sort out which one is best.

So, we went to look at the other colony - and it was exactly the same. I had to run up the field and grab the bait hive (not easy in your whites), and we did the same for them.

Hopefully our cells will be capped, our queens will emerge, get mated and live happy, productive lives. If not, I'm assuming I can get queens at this stage of the season!
 
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Hombre 

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Of course, if the queens don't get mated, it will be the end of May and mated queens should be a little more readily available then.

Good luck, similar situation here, working on it. no running down the field though.
 

oliver90owner 

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Rae,

If you want more than 4, you can divide the new queen colonies into, say, two just before the queens are ready to emerge. It would hammer your early honey crop but may give you a couple of queens to replace your present old ones, if that is apprporiate, and two new colonies, if the queens are all good ones.

If they don't mate you have lost time and honey crop, but little else.

You could unite the nucs and develop queen cells with the help of a frame of eggs from the originals, strengthen your colonies (if on another flow), requeen by buying in. Lots of options. With a potential of half a dozen colonies you would have enough to go queen rearing in a serious way.

Options, options, options. Then it is your choice of which direction you go. Less dependance on the vagaries of the bees!

Regards, RAB
 
T

Tom Bick 

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Sounds as though you had an exciting time ray and as RABs reply have plenty of options with a few days left to decide what to do now.

One point is if you are happy with your current situation you may well be advised to inspect the queen less colony's in 3 days time see how many queen cells you have then remove all but the best looking one in the hive. This will perhaps stop you having a number of cast swarms from the hives.

A good thing will be to make up say one nuc from a good queen cell you are removing.

Good look
 

plumberman 

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similar situation with me - went from 3 colonies to 6 in space of 4 days! I have a couple of apideas that I am going to try out this year using some spare queen cells from the swarming hives. It seems to be one of the main advantages of having a reasonable number of colonies - I am far more willing to experiment because I have spare colonies to use as insurance policies if one of my queens fails to mate.
 

grizzly 

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One point is if you are happy with your current situation you may well be advised to inspect the queen less colony's in 3 days time see how many queen cells you have then remove all but the best looking one in the hive. This will perhaps stop you having a number of cast swarms from the hives.
Very Good point, i left a number of QC last year thinking the bees will sort themselves out and select the best one, they did indeed sort themselves out, but left me with a very small number of bees and a Queen who could only have been accepted as there was nothing else left.
 

Haughton Honey 

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Lots of Commercial hives.......
Well done. It does seem that you're a week or two ahead of us up here in the North West!
 

rae 

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8 and 3 nucs...it's swarm time...
The old queens are just one year old, so I'm not worried about replacing them right now. Interesting points on potentially splitting the "new queen colonies". One of them could do with a split rather easily - it consists of a full 14x12 (6 frames of brood) and a standard brood box with about 8 frames of brood. Hardly a nuc! I do have a spare nuc box...but have run out of brood frames! Easily fixed as Thornes is less than a mile away.

Interestingly one of the bee books (can't remember which one, we've read all of them in the last 24 hours), suggested moving the queenless hives again in 8 days time. Apparently all of the "new" foragers then end up in the old hive, and the lack of foragers causes the queenless hive to tear down all but one queen cell. I think we'll split the big queenless colony (per advice above) and try the bee book method on the smaller one. We might learn something!

We've coined a new phrase "xtreme beekeeping" - that is when one of you is reading instructions from the book and the other is doing the work!
 

MJBee 

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Moving the queenless colony to the otherside of the queenright colony only works if you left UNSEALED queen cells in it at the split. If you left sealed cells there is a risk that the emerged queen may fly. (The book was Ted Hooper's Guide to bees and honey:))
 
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rae 

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8 and 3 nucs...it's swarm time...
Now we've had time to think, here's the revised plan.

1) We're going to leave the queenright colonies alone. The queens are young, productive and have been well behaved so far. They've got a super and mostly empty brood box to draw out, we'll let them get on with it.

2) The first queenless colony is a double brood "14x12 + conventional brood". We'll select a nice fat queen cell and put it in the 14x12. They'll make drone comb off the bottom of the normal sized frame, but that's OK. Currently they are 5 frames of brood in the 14x12, so not a small colony at all, they should build quickly. With only one queen cell, we'll leave that box on the current site. We'll take the rest of the normal brood box (about 7 frames of brood and several queen cells), and move that to prevent casts.

3) The second queenless colony (just a single brood box) will be split in two, and queen cells distributed. They should be small enough to prevent casts (not much bigger than a nuc).

So we will end up with 6 colonies. Our reason for this is that we want to expand to 4...but having 4 virgin queens allows us to accommodate some failures. If a particular queen fails to mate properly, we'll simply re-unite with the colony it came from.

If, by some happy coincidence, we get all 4 virgins mated successfully, then we will have some choices. We can either run 6 colonies, alternatively we have a friend who is a "lapsed" beek...who has been trying to catch a swarm for ages....
 

Rosti 

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Well done. It does seem that you're a week or two ahead of us up here in the North West!
WPC good to know that the Pennine split gives equal mis-fortune to both sides, nothing much going on here either. Rape probably 3/5 now but cold etc. Mondays inspection showed no play cups, no nothing and the second super put on a week ago hardly touched and if anything stores from the first super depleted (hardly suprising given the weather)
 

Haughton Honey 

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WPC good to know that the Pennine split gives equal mis-fortune to both sides, nothing much going on here either. Rape probably 3/5 now but cold etc. Mondays inspection showed no play cups, no nothing and the second super put on a week ago hardly touched and if anything stores from the first super depleted (hardly suprising given the weather)


Did a full inspection at one apiary today as it's supposed to be the warmest day of the week around these parts - no QCs, no play cups, pretty average build up, no supers touched, still giving a smidgen of feed to 80% of the colonies as their stores aren't all that great...........and there's plenty of dandelion and blossom about (good year for it this year).

Ho hum. Maybe another week or two will see things change.

New Queens arriving on Thursday too....which doesn't help matters.

7 weeks until the Solstice.
 

Hombre 

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4 - 11 expansion

Monday 3 May: 4 colonies, two with queen cells, made into two queen right nucs and removed from site and fed. Two colonies left queenless and frames of foundation added to bring frame count back up.
Monday 10 May: Nuc boxes ready, so I found the queen in the smaller of the queen right boxes and made a queen right nuc. Now three queenless colonies. The fourth queen right colony had ten frames of brood but was not making queen cells. Shook swarm into a new 14x12 box of foundation and fed. The remaining frames of brood (21) were split over a further seven nucs and given a frame of foundation and a frame feeder of syrup and have all bar one been removed to out apiaries.

Simply, from four colonies to ten nucs and one shook swarm in just over a week. Mothers and daughters appear to be doing well. :) So that's going to be a hefty syrup bill come the end of the summer. :)
 

rae 

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8 and 3 nucs...it's swarm time...
So as suggested above, we spilt both of the "old" colonies and ended up with 6. 2 then swarmed, so we are now at 8.

We did the first full inspection of the 6 new ones today.

First one - no eggs, larvae or visible queen.
Second one - eggs (good), no larvae, no visible queen
Third one - no eggs, larvae or queen
Fourth one - no eggs, larvae or queen
Fifth one - no eggs, larvae or queen
Sixth one (not holding out much hope, it was the smallest, 6 frames). Big fat queen, 4 frames of eggs and larvae - really going for it.

Hopefully the others will come into lay over the next week!
 

Hombre 

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Similar fortunes; picked up a swarm ten days ago and it's up and running already bringing the total count to twelve, with three suspects that may or may not come into lay in the next week or so.
 

rae 

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8 and 3 nucs...it's swarm time...
Another week passes....and the results are in:

First - had a queen for about a minute, now has two sealed queen cells.
Second one - 4 frames of brood
Third one - 5 frames of 14x12 brood!
Fourth one - brood, has made a real mess of the nuc box it is in, we'll need to cut it out
Fifth one - queenless, no brood, no eggs. Will combine with:
Sixth one - 5 frames of brood

4/6 made it, jury is still out on 1. We've seen 2/6 queens, lovely big ones.
 

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