Are my girls trying to Swarm? Supercede? or just teaseing me?

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BigAshW 

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Ok guys I have a couple of questions since todays inspection.

My colony has been in place since the 13th of July, they were a split from my mentors colony and the queen was hatched late June this year. She is clipped and marked.

The colony was taken to my site on the above date and according to my records covered 3 frames of bees with Bias on 2 frames and some stores on 1 frame. They were given foundation to take them from 5 frames to 9 and were left to settle in. On commercial hive.

10 days later I went down to see how they had settled and found that everything they had drawn was stuffed with stores the colony had expanded with bees now covering 7 frames however 2 uncapped QC were found. My mentors advice was to take down the QC and then pull out 2 of the part drawn bb frames and replace with 2 super frames, hoping that they would draw these and fill them with stores, which I would then move to the super above hoping to get them to move up into the super and put stores up there to allow HM to lay into the frames they were drawing down below.

4 days later I then moved the drawn and filled super frames up and replaced the brood frames back into the nest. some empty play cups were seen but they were not laid in. 4 frames BIAS 4 frames stores, 2 unused frames

7 days later on my next inspection I found that the BB was still being stuffed with stores and brood nest was being cramped. I also found 1 QC this time isolated on the face of a frame stores away from the main brood nest. This was taken down and again and another unused frame was moved into the brood nest hoping that HM could get to it before it was filled with stores and another frame foundation added.

Records show that day as 4 frames bias, HM seen, 4 frames with stores 3 unused.

Today they have 5 frames BIAS, 5 frames of stores, 1 unused but drawn frame which I again moved into the Brood nest hoping HM will get on it quickly.

However again I found another isolated QC on the face of a stores comb a frame away from the main brood nest. This I removed this time but they seem
determined to raise a new queen?

Any thoughts on this?

Are they trying to supersede HM who seems to be laying well whenever they give her the space too?

Are they still feeling cramped despite the foundation in the BB and empty super above?

If they are is it too late to consider an AS, and would a superseded queen have enough time to get mated and established for the winter?
 

cweaton 

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It's still early days with this colony and I'd say best to leave it be for the time being, although your manipulations seem to have worked out well. The queen cells could well be an attempt at supercedure (in which case I'd say they know best and let them get on with it), but you'll probably find the QCs gone the next time you look. I'd only consider performing an AS if they were showing very convincing signs of swarming (which they're not).

The main thing is the decision about how to overwinter them - I guess you're probably looking to overwinter on the single broodbox, but this will depend on progress over the next few weeks.
 

BigAshW 

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Thanks for that. :)

I am indeed hoping to over winter in the one BB. My mentor has said that a commercial BB should have ample space for enough stores.
 

Arfermo 

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Hi Bigash,
I had a similarly confusing (to me as a relative novice anyway) situation yesterday when I found that a Q+ hive, clipped and marked and laying well with BIAS aplenty had created 2 large capped QCs and another biggy nearing capping and loads of drones in attendance. Took all the QCs down but at my BKA apiary last evening was advised by our SBI/masterbeek member, that this is the time of year when bees often get into supercedure mode and the bees know best what they are about. She surmised that the bees had probably deduced that the old Q might not be/remain as productive as necessary in the longer term due to inadequate mating for instance and wanted new blood to overwinter with. She added that it is not too late for them to raise more and get mated and that it is not uncommon for the new virgin and the old queen to live side by side for a while. Hope this helps. No doubt others will have other views in a minute or two but that is merely beekeeping.
 

Arfermo 

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Hi Bigash,
I had a similarly confusing (to me as a relative novice anyway) situation yesterday when I found that a Q+ hive, clipped and marked and laying well with BIAS aplenty had created 2 large capped QCs and another biggy nearing capping and loads of drones in attendance. Took all the QCs down but at my BKA apiary last evening was advised by our SBI/masterbeek member, that this is the time of year when bees often get into supercedure mode and the bees know best what they are about. She surmised that the bees had probably deduced that the old Q might not be/remain as productive as necessary in the longer term due to inadequate mating for instance and wanted new blood to overwinter with. She added that it is not too late for them to raise more QCs and get a virgin mated and that it is not uncommon for the new virgin and the old queen to live side by side for a while. Hope this helps. No doubt other views will be along in a minute or two but that is merely beekeeping.
 

BeeJayBee 

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4 days later I then moved the drawn and filled super frames up and replaced the brood frames back into the nest. some empty play cups were seen but they were not laid in. 4 frames BIAS 4 frames stores, 2 unused .....

7 days later on my next inspection I found that the BB was still being stuffed with stores and brood nest was being cramped. I also found 1 QC this time isolated on the face of a frame stores away from the main brood nest. This was taken down and again and another unused frame was moved into the brood nest hoping that HM could get to it before it was filled with stores and another frame foundation added. .....
I'm probably misunderstanding what you've written, and may have chosen the wrong bit to quote, but if you're putting undrawn or unused frames into the middle of the brood area you are splitting the brood - it's a bad idea.

What you will have done is leave the queen to one side of a blank frame, meaning there is less queen pheromone in the other side of the brood box (the side without the queen). This can encourage the bees to draw queen cells on that side, because they think they've lost their queen.

It's best to only add frames to the outside of the brood area, and always keep the brood nest intact.
 

Erichalfbee 

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It's best to only add frames to the outside of the brood area, and always keep the brood nest intact.
Not always...but probably best for a beginner
 

dn170221 

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just out of interest,are you feeding them?
 

BigAshW 

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So todays inspection went well.

I have bees on 10 frames

5 frames of bias

4 1/2 of stores.

There was another single QC uncapped on the face of a comb again so this time I left it to them to decide what to do.

There was a few bald brood in there though!! Just one or two on the very ful frames of brood with dark eyed brood inside!! Is this something I should worry about??

Its not in a line as is associated with wax moth and from what I understand this is a genetic trait. Hopefully they're superceding and the new queen will lose this trait.
 

BeeJayBee 

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There was a few bald brood in there though!! Just one or two on the very ful frames of brood with dark eyed brood inside!! Is this something I should worry about??
Sometimes it can be a sign of serious varroa damage, but not always. Are there any signs of a high varroa load?
 

BigAshW 

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I saw no deformed wings. I plan to put my tray in next week to check the natural drop.
 

jd101k2000 

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One of the questions that no-one answered is 'Are they just teasing me?'. The answer to that is 'yes'. Every day you look in, you will see a new problem... it's a bit like reading a medical dictionary and realising that you have Avian flu with a touch of Tourette's.

The question about feeding was a 'just in case'. Some people find their brood box stuffed with stores and are still feeding. (You haven't fallen into that trap. Well done!)

I have found that the best way to put a colony into swarm mode is to play with the arrangement of the brood. It's a bit like a maternity ward where the management keep on re-arranging everything for 'efficiency'... and the nurses/midwives cannot find what they are looking for and someone has moved the matron into a different building to be closer to where 'the management' think they should be... as well as changing her uniform, so no-one recognises her. (I have worked in the NHS... this has happened.)

A mentor of mine is very much into 'light-touch' bee keeping and, aside from checking Q+ early in the season and absence of diseases tends to leave her bees alone... and she gets honey... and she doesn't get much swarming either. She may have 60 years experience, but points out that the bees have 65 million years.

Unlike our poor NHS nurses/midwives, your bees have the option of buggering off to pastures new.
 

beeno 

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I have found that the best way to put a colony into swarm mode is to play with the arrangement of the brood.
Hi jd,
Funny, I have heard the opposite. Well, that's beekeeping for you.
 

Arfermo 

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Further to my earlier post here and to http://www.wbka.com/wp-content/uploa...e-WBKA-WAG.pdf thread as well as Ted Hughes (Guide to Bees and Honey Page 91), bees have a propensity for supercedure in August and that often results in the old queen and the new laying side by side usually on the same comb until the old queen disappears (voluntary euthanasia?). Since the bees know best what they are about (failing old queen, new young virile queen for next year, etc) they are best allowed to get on with it. It is usually associated with drones in the hive and probably in the general locality too.
 

beeno 

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Hi BigAshW,
Sorry, but I am really concerned for you as a one hive owner. The chances of a virgin queen being mated are diminishing fast or are we going to have an Indian Summer? If you are not feeding how come your bees are accumulating such stores whilst brooding to that extent? Are these stores capped honey or just nectar? Have you got another beek nearby, who they are robbing from? Excess stores is one factor of swarming in the swarming season which we are on the edge of. Are they Carnies?
Agree with previous poster on Varroa count.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Hi all! :seeya:

Sorry, but I am really concerned for you as a one hive owner
What's your name - Finman?
The chances of a virgin queen being mated are diminishing fast
Rot - this is supersedure season

how come your bees are accumulating such stores whilst brooding to that extent?
It's what bees do when there's forage available - especially when there's not that much brood to look after

Excess stores is one factor of swarming in the swarming season
is it or isn't it the swarming season? if so, no problems getting a queen mated, and by the looks of it this is supersedure - may even be a perfect one! (or maybe immaculate)
 

beeno 

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Hi Jenkins,
Unlike you, I was a one hive owner not that many years ago. Listened to all the 'experienced' people who told me not to worry because 'bees do not swarm this time of the year'. Equally, supercedure at the beginning of September is very risky as is early swarming judging by all the drone laying queens the forum ended up with. Supercedure IMHO and according to some books is common in August, but this supercedure will not be completed in August will it? Neither is the weather favourable with below average day time temperatures and cold nights which means it takes a long time for day time temperatures to rise. Been there, done it, didn't get the t-shirt, but a drone laying queen! If the bees know best then they hopefully tear the QC down themselves this time. And where do you find a laying queen when you need one end September?
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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And where do you find a laying queen when you need one end September?
from a reputable queen breeder who has queens through until October - he usually has a few unless he's been inundated with fools who have ripped down supersedure cells because it's 'too late' and the old queen has pegged out.
 

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