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Kevi 

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I'm in my first year of beekeeping and I'm still quite confused about certain things:confused:. I know that you have to inspect hives at specified periods in order to prevent or reduce the possibility of swarming. Having inspected my hive last week and seeing all is well I intended to inspect the hive again today (8 days later). Unfortunately, the weather turned cold (below 13c) and it rained all day so I avoided opening up the hive. The weather forecast for the next few days is for more rain and even colder temperatures, which means the hive can only be opened (if I'm correct) at best, early next week when the weather improves. So what does one do in this situation? Is it a case of the lesser of two evils - risk swarming rather than risk chilling the colony?:banghead: I'm in the Merseyside area and have already heard of one hive that has swarmed.
 
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Roy S 

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Where about in Merseyside are you, are you in the the Liverpool or Ormskirk branch?. The forecast is for scattered showers tomorrow afternoon, improving as it goes on.
How old is the queen?. How many frames of brood where they on when you last looked in?, how much space did they have left and are they using the super/s yet?, and any evidence of queen cells or play cups last time you looked in?

If it was me I'd be down my apiaries thursday afternoon, unless the weather is dire if I really need to go through my colonies, I just get on with it....just expect them to not be at their friendliest ;)
 
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oliver90owner 

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I am surprised that any 'un-boosted' colonies that far north are swarming unless left with insufficient brood space, no super, an old queen, or they are a really very swarmy strain.

Colonies do not usually swarm until the nest is fully developed - and that is generally late this year - and drones are present and mature, or for one of the reasons above.

Checking for swarm cells need take no loner than removing each brood comb, shaking bees off the frame and replacing - provided the combs are even and not got lots of holes.

Is your hive supered? Is it on a single brood? Are there hatched drone? Were there any undrawn frames at the last inspection? How many frames of brood? Any queen play cups last visit?

I would suggest you give them a quick inspection for Q/Cells and place a super (or another brood) with drawn comb, preferably, on the brood box for extra laying space if necessary.

Make notes and look for patterns in behaviour from those notes, of all your observations when doing an inspection. Prediction is then the name of the game followed with comparison of the real world results at the following inspection. That will lead to more experienced judgments.

Regards, RAB
 

Kevi 

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Hi guys. The weather actually improved on Thursday :hurray:so I was able to inspect the hive. Didn't see any queen cells but to be honest, I can't say I didn't miss any, although I don't think so. Spotted the queen at least. I have a super on, which the bees are busy drawing out. On advice I have also added another brood box on top of the first, with a QE inbetween. This is to draw out brood frames ready for artificial swarming. so the bees have plenty of room. My mentor will be back from hols in another week so she will help with advice and hopefully with artificial swarming - assuming the bees don't swarm before then!

The queen and colony is from a nuc obtained at the end of August last year.

I am still left with the question "If you are scheduled to inspect the hive and weather conditions are unsuitable do you leave it and risk a swarm or do you inspect and risk the colony?" Maybe I should just toss a coin!

Hey Roy. I'm in Liverpool. I have a hive set up at Rice Lane City Farm (in Liverpool) where I work. The objective, long-term, is to set up a co-operative based apiary. I was originally involved with a group based project for new beekeepers, which was to be established along the Leeds/Liverpool canal in the north of Liverpool. Unfortunately, this project came to a sad and untimely end. But as part of that project, although I'm based in Liverpool I was enrolled in the Southport & Formby beekeepers branch. Our mentor, who was appointed by the project funders and with whom I still work, belongs to the Ormskirk Branch. Complicated ain't it!
 
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Cazza 

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I am still left with the question "If you are scheduled to inspect the hive and weather conditions are unsuitable do you leave it and risk a swarm or do you inspect and risk the colony?" Maybe I should just toss a coin!
QUOTE]

I'm due an inspection in the next two days but the forecast is poor 8-10c with rain. That's just too cold for me......fingers crossed.....I'll make up a bait hive instead.
Cazza
 

jezd 

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Leave, but I only say that if the wind is a big factor (as is for me normally), cool and wet are fine but the wind is what does the damage in those conditions. If its cool and still then you can inspect if you are quick. As was said before most swarming is delayed this year and mature drones are very low in numbers. If you are very sheltered then as soon as the sun pops out do it then.
 

rae 

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8 and 3 nucs...it's swarm time...
We did one of ours yesterday evening. It was the queenless part of an artificial swarm, but as it was a double brood 14x12 + normal, it was important to split it because it had about 5 queen cells, and was still a big colony.

We worked quickly, and put the crownboard back whenever we could. The site is sheltered from the wind, but it was not as warm as we would have liked. It wasn't hard - all we had to do was pull a normal brood with a big queen cell, stick it in the 14x12, close them up, and move both of them to the left of the queen right hive.
 
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In my experience they won't swarm during bad weather - but as soon as it improves they may so you need to get in quickly as soon as the sun comes out. The bees are known to crowd around queen cells to prevent the queen emerging until she is needed.
 

jezd 

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In my experience they won't swarm during bad weather - but as soon as it improves they may so you need to get in quickly as soon as the sun comes out. The bees are known to crowd around queen cells to prevent the queen emerging until she is needed.
I'm expecting a rush of call once Spring arrived, IF it arrives.
 

oliver90owner 

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IF it arrives

You may be right! That may never happen. Straight into summer (on June 21?), then mid-summer (on the 24th?), then autumn (3 days later?). Could be a short one this year, but might improve enough for a small crop of honey.....

Just put it down to 'climate change'.

Regards, RAB
 

Kevi 

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Are you coming to the Liverpool apiary meeting tomorrow at Bishop Eaton?
Sorry for the late reply, unfortunately I had other things scheduled. However, i would like at some time to get involved with the Liverpool meetings, even though I'm a member of southport. I'm hoping to be at the opening of the Southport & Formby new teaching apiary on the 16th May. Maybe see you there
 

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