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  Friday, 14 June 2019
  5 Replies
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Just curious if folks have noticed increased swarms or increased swarm tendencies this year? I'm new to beekeeping, starting with two hives. One hive swarmed (#1) about 1.5 weeks ago and now my other hive (#2) is preparing to swarm. I felt pretty good about everything. I added medium supers to both hives about 3-4 weeks ago when the brood box was 8/10 frames full. I'm keeping the hives single brood box with honey supers. I'm just trying to learn where I went wrong and in accounting for the possible variables wondered if perhaps it could be climate/weather related since there's been so few good foraging days this Spring? Not sure, because they are definitely bringing lots of pollen back when they can get out.

Background on my journey, if anyone is interested in sharing advice or highlighting a teaching opportunity...

Hive #1 - I noticed the swarm cells during a weekly inspection. There were no capped queen cells but there were many with royal jelly. We found the queen and isolated her in a cage so we could safely shake the frames free of bees to destroy all the queen cells in effort to prevent the swarm. They had barely started building comb on the waxed plastic foundations in the in the super we added two weeks prior, and so they weren't really inhabiting the additional space so the brood box was definitely crowded. They swarmed about five days after our intervention destroying the queen cells and then two days later I reinspected and found a single capped queen cell - maybe we missed one initially? I've since added back sugar water feeding to see if that will help promote better comb building to prevent overcrowding. I'll be checking to see if there's a new queen early next week. The population of the hive appears to have increased and they were nice and active yesterday when he had sun and warmth. I did try and find the swam but haven't had any luck...

Hive #2 - I noticed crowding at the front entrance about 1-2 days before the hive was due for a routine inspection which I'm doing weekly at this point. Much to my chagrin I found over 10 capped queen cells. I was unable to find the queen after looking closely at the frames three times. She's been pretty easy to find in other inspections so it was quite frustrating. I did find larva and eggs (properly laid in the middle of the cell) so I assume she's still there. Like hive #1 the bees are slowly building comb on the waxed plastic foundation in the super. They've had no problems building comb on the same waxed plastic frames in the brood box. Because I couldn't find the queen and it seemed likely that the swarm was imminent given the number of capped queen cells, we decided to "let them hit the trees" with the hopes that we could catch the swarm. We set out a bait hive and lay eyes on them 2-3 times daily. They still haven't swarmed (it's been three days). I also swapped a brood frame with three capped queen cells with a frame from hive #1 to help with crowding in #2 and improve chances of viable queen in hive #1.
2 years ago
A lot of swarming this spring. Hives that had plenty of space and drawn comb still prep'd to swarm. Not just queen cups rather noted royal jelly in cups. You know they will swarm then and have to remove queen. Or chance they will go to your swarm trap.

The thing about using a single brood box is if you are using a queen excluder then you will constantly swarm. If you're not using a queen excluder she will continue nest right up into two of the medium supers. Which is fine, that would be your hive to winter- single deep with two mediums. Two medium equal 1.5 deeps, many run two deeps and a medium for winter. I use all mediums, a full unrestricted hive uses 4 of them, more medium boxes on top for supers.
3 years ago
Thanks, Soctt. Would love to make the meeting, but unfortunately I am working a 12-hour shift that day. I've been so unlucky... So far the majority of VBA events fall on my work days.
3 years ago
Good questions.
If you can make it to the VBA summer meeting your scenario would be great to pose to the group during the Beekeeping Q and A session.
3 years ago
Hi Greg, It was just preference! We chose to have single brood box hives so the bees would focus on making honey for he winter among other reasons - ease of inspection, varroa control, etc. It's my understanding that single brood boxes are successful in our climate. It seemed that the difference between double and single brood box was preference. We provided more space by adding honey supers...

Interestingly hive #2 still has not swarmed.
3 years ago
I guess my first question would be - if I'm understanding you correctly - is why you didn't user a second brood box?


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