No drones yet, is it worth inspecting?

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Sutty 

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I've not yet seen a single drone flying in or out of my 2 colonies. They were pretty small when I last did a very brief inspection 3 weeks ago.
I don't recall ever not seeing drones by May previously.
I'll be having a quick look soon to see how they are building up, check stores etc.
However, if I didn't want to look for other reasons, would there be any point in inspecting for swarm control reasons if no drones are present? Will they ever swarm without producing drones?
 

Finman 

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Why you want to inspect drones?

Inspect only queen cells. If there are any, things are then good.
 

drdrday 

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I'd be wanting to inspect anyway considering that your last inspection was three weeks ago and you thought they were pretty small colonies. For instance, is there a reason they are small, do they both still have laying queens, have they been building up at all over the last three weeks?
I appreciate not wanting to inspect your bees without a reason, but I'd say you have reasons to want to check what they're up to or if there are any problems.
 

ericbeaumont 

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I don't recall ever not seeing drones by May previously.
Calendar beekeeping doesn't work, Sutty.

I agree with DR: find out why the colonies are small and go from there. Queen laying as she should? What does the brood look like? No nectar coming in? More info. will help.
 

Erichalfbee 

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Sounds like you do need to inspect
 

Hachi 

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Damn! A lot more than I ever thought I'd have
Certainly wouldn't rely on the Mk 1 eyeball, get in there you know you want too :)
 

Sutty 

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Thanks for the replies, I will be inspecting.
However the main thrust of my question was whether it is worth looking for swarm control if there are no flying drones
 

Ian123 

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Your only going to take swarm control measures if you find them trying to swarm or there of a size that may require heading them off. You’ll only know that by inspecting. So go look!! If there still small there may be other issues.
 

madasafish 

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When did you VIEW few drones?

In the sun? At 2pm? or later on or earlier. Drones being male can be quite choosy.. Qs only fly to mate with temperatures >c18C. With current weather, that is unlikely to happen.
 

Boston Bees 

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Thanks for the replies, I will be inspecting.
However the main thrust of my question was whether it is worth looking for swarm control if there are no flying drones
Yes, absolutely.

There are no cheat-codes with swarm control (e.g. "bad weather = won't swarm", or "no drones = won't swarm", or "lots of empty drawn comb = won't swarm").

As long as it's between March and October (ish), and they have a queen, they might swarm.

There are things that make swarms more likely, of course, but nothing definitive.
 

thorn 

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It varies.
Thanks for the replies, I will be inspecting.
However the main thrust of my question was whether it is worth looking for swarm control if there are no flying drones
Look in your brood box. There'll be drones. And they'll have been out and about for the last month when the weather's permitted.
 

Finman 

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Thanks for the replies, I will be inspecting.
However the main thrust of my question was whether it is worth looking for swarm control if there are no flying drones
Swarming has nothing to do with drone flying.
Drone flying does not indicate swarming. So drop it out and do not invent your own rules.

It is like queen cups. It does not indicate swarming. Every hive make cups even if they do not swarm.
 
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Sutty 

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Well I had a look during the warmest part of the day today (15-16C).
Both colonies are small because 1 lost most of its bees to swarming in the middle of last July, and one was a small cast. (This was what prompted me to resume active beekeeping after 20yrs+, a swarm had previously taken up residence in an empty hive).
Anyway they are both building up ok, good brood pattern and eggs and brood in all stages. The larger one does have a very few drones, the cast colony has none I could see, though they have had to draw out foundation so maybe expanded less.
No signs of swarm preparation as expected.
 

enrico 

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Well I had a look during the warmest part of the day today (15-16C).
Both colonies are small because 1 lost most of its bees to swarming in the middle of last July, and one was a small cast. (This was what prompted me to resume active beekeeping after 20yrs+, a swarm had previously taken up residence in an empty hive).
Anyway they are both building up ok, good brood pattern and eggs and brood in all stages. The larger one does have a very few drones, the cast colony has none I could see, though they have had to draw out foundation so maybe expanded less.
No signs of swarm preparation as expected.
As expected? Why? Because you hadn't seen drones......I do hope you don't think you were right just because of your findings, you are not right about no drones so no swarms. You were just a little lucky. There is good advice in this thread. Please heed it!
 

Sutty 

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As expected? Why? Because you hadn't seen drones......I do hope you don't think you were right just because of your findings, you are not right about no drones so no swarms. You were just a little lucky. There is good advice in this thread. Please heed it!
No, because I knew they were still fairly small colonies, 1st year queens, and still had lots of room (partly judged from the warm area of the crown board under insulation).
I know small colonies Can swarm, but less likely in the circumstances they are in.
 

Sutty 

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Original colony is in 2 "supers" for historical reasons, the cast colony is in a single brood box, but nowhere near full.
I'd like to get the original colony into a normal brood box (their existing frames are ancient), not sure whether better to put a box of foundation above or below, though it's a lot of work (stores) for them.
 

Ian123 

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Hi sutty first off am glad there ok however😉 A hive swarming last July should have no bearing on it’s size atm. Nor the fact 1 was a cast. I’ve got some that late august where no more than mating nucs and now are filling double brood and without this cold would have filled a super or 2. Am curious have you treated in 1 form or another. Ian
 

Sutty 

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Thanks Ian.
Treated rather late with sublimated oxalic acid in January (took a while to read up and get the kit).
It's been pretty cold here, so build-up may be delayed.
To be honest they were so small I was impressed they survived winter.
 

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