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Swarmy Queen?

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MrTrueman 

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As it is my first year and I know this forum gives good and varied advice I would like some opinions on the following.

I bought an over wintered nuc in April with a red marked queen. The hive did well and I supered on 7 frames of brood. The hive then put up swarm cells and I did a split on the 16th May. (The other half of the split has mated and doing fine!!) :D

After the spilt the queen right hive did well and drew out the brood foundation and she got back on the lay quickly. I then added a 2nd super as the first super was drawn out and full of nectar also and the hive was on 8 frames of brood.

Now this week I have checked, they have not really drawn out much of the 2nd super foundation (and there is still about 1.5 frames of brood foundation in the hive). However they have now put up queen cells all primed ready to go on one frame (at the bottom) and one under the QX. The queen is still in residence and there are eggs visable.

As I don’t have any spare kit and really don’t fancy the thought of splitting this hive again I knocked the cells down.

It's only just over a month since the first split.

So my questions are, is this a swarmy queen? And what would you do now?
Should I have given her double brood?
 

Mission 

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I don't know if this answering your question but this is an observation I have made over the last few months. In my locality, the weather has being quite mild, and their has been plenty of nectar and pollen coming in from trees.

I have seen hives containing new 2009 queens, then proceeding to build swam cells. I opened up a 6 frame nuc (4 frames with brood and stores, 2 part drawn foundation) yesterday to find my shiny new 2009 queen gone, and 6 queen cells remaining. Clearly they have swarmed at some point and I have lost what must have been the smallest cast swarm ever. Seperately, we housed a huge swarm 2 weeks ago and on the first inspection removed 4 capped cells without the hive having swarmed. Then we have seen a hive swarm on uncapped cells.

Some say swarmyness is a genetic trait, others place hive conditions as a factor. The environment and weather clearly plays a part as well. I think it may be a mixture of all 3. This spring has been a strong season for swarming, the bees have been doing different things and have clearly decided to change some of the bee keeping rules to suit themselves. What is for sure, is that they know best!!

Others may have different opinions, but all I would do is keep closely inspecting the hive and removing all cups and cells as you find them. Double brooding them may give them the feeling of having more space and plenty of work to do in drawing foundation. Sooner or later the swarming instict will pass and they should start concentrating on getting stores in place for the winter. Until then without taking drastic action and splitting colonies and requeening etc, that is as much as you can do.

I expect others will have different opinions and it's up to you to decide on which route to take.
 

Poly Hive 

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I then added a 2nd super as the first super was drawn out and full of nectar also and the hive was on 8 frames of brood.

Now this week I have checked, they have not really drawn out much of the 2nd super foundation (and there is still about 1.5 frames of brood foundation in the hive). However they have now put up queen cells all primed ready to go on one frame (at the bottom) and one under the QX. The queen is still in residence and there are eggs visable.

As I don’t have any spare kit and really don’t fancy the thought of splitting this hive again I knocked the cells down.


The first para is the give away. Frankly it is too late to super when the first sup is full of nectar. The ratio of nectar to honey is roughly 3:1 and if there is no space up stairs what is the queen to do, there is no where to lay and so the workers being replete say stuff it lets go.

There are for sure swarmy strains of bee and of course some races are more swarmy than others. There is also bad beekeeping and put the two together and things go wrong.

KIll your queen. Bite the bullet and let them do what they want to do. I have said many times on forums that knocking out queen cells is a COMPLETE WASTE OF TIME.

If a colony decides to swarm it is going regardless. And if you push them to hard by knocking cells out they will swarm on a barely started cell.

PH
 
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hedgerow pete 

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sorry but i aggre with poly hive to many beeks make the simple mistake od leaving things for to long before supering again, if you want you can stick three on to day and do no harm, as for the queen yes there are good and bad , but can i just point out that bad breeding will produce swarmy bad stock others can breed it out of them i dont have swarms and have had not done any swarm controll for ten years i just restock my main hives every two seasons with a newly mated queen, ergo no need to swarm , nice big box with several supers to play with and some plain sheets of foundation every so often to draw out, some times bees swarm because they are bees some times they swarm because of the beek
 

admin 

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So part of your swarm control Pete is to remove a couple of drawn combs and replace with foundation ?
 

hedgerow pete 

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part of the whole program i have going involves several nucs either on the go or just getting going so a couple of frames of brood would be better used else where, i also find that as part of the swarm prevention i like to not only replace the queen every two seasons which is normaly in august that way they can be breed in april may and after four months in a nuc i know roughly what style they are, strong , aggressives , nervous etc and then i choose which one i want in what hive, i have also found that as well as changing the queen i can remove if needed one or both of the outside frames of food for a nuc or to balance stores else where and as if you go from left to right i would change frames 4 and either 8 or 1, so as well as a new queen they are also kept busy doing new works and wax and stores , sad but just one of those unsual traits we do
 

Poly Hive 

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Keeping wax builders busy is a good way to avoid swarming, to a point. But it is a useful tool to have in the box.

In my supers when I was extracting honey, (I am now all cut comb) I used to have at least three foundation sheets per super, and as all my supers were Langstroth so three of eight were foundation. It replace blown frames in the extractor and kept the wax workers busy.

PH
 

hedgerow pete 

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yep its not the main tool of swarm prevention , but i have quite a few stupid traits that i have collected over the years, as you do ! but i find what works for me i just play around with to find out why. and for me to keep as many wax builders going is good because i have an outlet for wax and as such i want to harvest it, it also allows me to have ten fully drawn out combs spare , in case there is a flow on the nucs always miss it because by the time they have built storage falcilities for it the flow if over, so to be able to drop a frame in quick for the girls to fill up with out waiting to me makes sense, i think ?
 

Nopants 

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Its also a question of how much room is left for the queen to lay Eggs? If there is capped honey in the brood box and No space upstairs to move it to then they are off to find a bigger house. I have 3 supers on at the moment but will be putting on a fourth shortly! This as a 5 frame Nuc on 16th of May this year, I Have taken off two brood frames and Nuced them with a New queen. Its better to Super up and give space sooner rather than later and add Space for rearing brood.
 

MrTrueman 

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Firstly thanks everyone for your comments. I was thinking about the 2nd super as well, thinking back when I added the 2nd super there was still a couple of frames of foundation in it and still some foundation in the brood box after the split. It is difficult for me to tell because being my first season I really don’t have much reference to their space/tightness. Also even as we speak there is still 1.5 frames of foundation in the brood box!

I understand the 7/8 frames of brood add a super, but what ratio would you guys use for an additional super? I think it is also tricky as I have no comb being my first year.

Ok so thinking forward, I am in this situation and I am still interested on what people would do now.

1) Would you do an AS?
2) Kill queen and requeen?
3) Put queen in nuc and let them get on with it? (I think I am going to do this)
 

Poly Hive 

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Hedge your bets here.

Park up the queen in a nuc and leave the colony one queen cell to mate. Job done.

When you are dealing wtih foundation as I am all the time as I am working for Cut Comb, it is neat judgement as to when to sup #2. I would suggest when the first half of the first super is drawn, then add the 2nd. Mind here that there is nothing stopping you from lifting up a drawn frame into the top super and putting a foundation in the gap left. Work the supers... it's allowed..LOL

PH
 

MrTrueman 

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Thanks PH :cheers2:

Yep I thinking play safe, stop the swarming, keep the queen for insurance or expansion.

Looks like no honey for me this year, but if all goes well a good increase to 3 hives, not bad for my first year and starting from a nuc in April! Let’s just hope they put the cells up due to my mistake and not their breeding :D

I did work the super frames to get them drawn quicker.

Sorry I have another question. I really can’t get to grips with this 3.1 ratio for nectar reduction. If you added a fully drawn super and what point would you think about popping the second on?
 

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