Swarming with no capped Queen cells

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CBP 

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Hi all,

I have been helping the beginners from our local association with their swarming colonies over the past couple of weeks and have come across a common theme with this years early swarms. Many of the colonies are swarming with occupied but unsealed Queen cells! Most of these had only eggs or very young larvae in them.

Every book I have read and all the experienced beekeepers I have spoken to say that the bees won't swarm until they cap the cells, but this isn't the case.

My initial thoughts were that the hives may have got too hot in the good weather and decided to go early or where seriously overcrowded, but on further investigation this doesn't seem to be the case.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this or heard of this happening elsewhere?

If a colony can swarm with unsealed Queen cells it kind of throws the 7 or 8 day swarm control inspection schedule out the window!

CBP
 

Erichalfbee 

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Mine did that. There weren't even any charged play cups!
BUT it was honey blocked......my fault entirely for overfeeding in winter and not realising how quickly they can shift that nectar with good weather and a good flow. This spring has been exceptional for both.
Maybe colonies with still some room for expansion just took advantage of the weather but as you say, where does that leave swarm control?
 
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oliver90owner 

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the bees won't swarm until they cap the cells

There you have it but just missed out the word 'normally'!

Bees will 'go' early if the beekeeper tries to thwart them by removing queen cells per eg.

Until we know whether this is the 'norm' or if there are other 'exceptional details' which have 'just been conveniently omitted or overlooked' by the victims of this dreaded crime by the bees, I would comment no further than say the rule is there and it is never 100% 'black or white' (sorry if i'm not PC!) where bees are concerned.

RAB
 

Otleybee 

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My bee mentor is always very funny about this. He says my plans will only work if the bees have read the same text books as me!
 

Gardenbees 

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Yes, sadly my bees also don't seem to have read the sames books as me...
But this year I was a bit wiser than when I first started out, and split up my busiest colony when it was boiling over at the end of March, even though there weren't any near-finished queen cells. They were uncharacteristically resentful of being handled (despite having their original queen who has always been my best). This, and their general restlessness, suggested to me that they were preparing to swarm, almost certainly due to overcrowding from all the stores in the brood box. Once they get like that it's very difficult to stop them, queen cells or no queen cells. In my experience if they've made their minds up they're off, on the next suitable day. Removing queen cells doesn't remove their inclination to swarm, only their likelihood of a successor.

What's more, I split that colony into three, and the "parent" colony is already thinking about swarming again, having had a month of incredible buildup. I've had to give them extra space on top of the 14x12 bb, and replace one or two of the bb frames with empties to open it up for them, twice now.

We shouldn't grumble: as far as the bees are concerned this is an excellent spring. A bit of cooler weather might give us a breather for while... and then a nice, warm May would complete the perfect spring! (;)and yes, I have heard the expression "famous last words"!)
 

Chris B 

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the bees won't swarm until they cap the cells

There you have it but just missed out the word 'normally'!

Bees will 'go' early if the beekeeper tries to thwart them by removing queen cells per eg.

Until we know whether this is the 'norm' or if there are other 'exceptional details' which have 'just been conveniently omitted or overlooked' by the victims of this dreaded crime by the bees, I would comment no further than say the rule is there and it is never 100% 'black or white' (sorry if i'm not PC!) where bees are concerned.

RAB
:iagree:
It's only a rule of thumb based on observation by beekeepers over the years. However I've only once personally witnessed bees swarming without sealed cells (Carnies). Much more common is bees delaying several days after cells are sealed. What you've been taught about swarm control is right 99% of the time.
 
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