Help me with these swarms!

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by The Mongo, Jul 8, 2012.

  1. The Mongo

    The Mongo New Member

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    First off let me state that I live in Washington State, and the general rule around here is that the rain doesn't stop and summer doesn't begin until after July 4th. Yesterday, my hive, which is a first year package swarmed three times. I was able to catch one swarm, but I don't have any more equipment to catch more swarms with. I thought everything was going great with this hive until about two weeks ago when I noticed my queen being balled in the backyard in come clover. That prompted me to get in the hive and see what was going on and I found one supercedure cell, so I left it be and figured the girls will take care of business. This queen they balled had plenty of brood too so there must have been something they didn't like about her. Yesterday, this same hive swarmed three times, with more on the way I'm assuming. When I got into the hive to see what was going on, I found at least 10 swarm cells. I stopped counting after that . There was capped brood, but no eggs and I couldn't see a queen anywhere. Why would this hive continue to swarm, taking new queens with them, but not keep one for themselves. I suppose it's possible that she was in there and I just missed her. I've read on these forums that pulling out the queen cells doesn't help and they'll still swarm anyways. What am I supposed to do? Do I let this hive continue to swarm until I have no bees left? This happened to me last year as well with my first year of package bees. They never built up enough and survived, so I had to buy package bees again this year. I thought everything was good until yesterday. It's frustrating because I really want to keep bees (my grandfather did, and I've always had fond memories of it) but the way this has gone the past couple of years, my wife is starting to look at me funny with all the money I spend on this only to have this keep happening. Help me Jedi beekeepers, you're my only hope........
     
  2. afterburn001

    afterburn001 New Member

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    Welcome to the forum! I'm up here in Washington State as well (Hood Canal area). This is only our second year so I'll let the pros give you the advice but we had a hive that was ready to swarm this year so we split it twice. We took the original queen with two frames of honey, two frames of brood and nurse bees and created a nuc. The second split, we took one frame with cells, a frame of honey a frame of eggs and brood... We reduced the mother hive to one deep and let them raise their own queen. Seems to have worked well for us.
     

  3. The Mongo

    The Mongo New Member

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    Thanks afterburn. I think I'm past that point now because I don't have enough equipment left to make a nuc due to swarm captures. My question now is what do I do with all the swarm cells? I can't find an egg laying queen yet so I don't want to screw myself. I'm afraid if I wait until I see a queen laying again, I won't have any bees left. Third swarm this morning from the same hive.
     
  4. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    First, how many boxes and how many frames are on the hive? How many of those frames are empty?

    It sounds like they ran out of building space. During build up and honey flow, you have to keep empty building space in there at all times. I would leave 3 nice capped cells and remove the rest. I would also disperse a few empty frames among the full ones.
     
  5. The Mongo

    The Mongo New Member

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    They had plenty of room, which is why I'm confused a first year hive would do this. Two ten frame deeps, with three supers on top of that. I put the supers on when our blackberry flow started out here. They haven't drawn out any comb in the supers tho. I have one regular super with beeswax foundation, but the other two supers are plastic frames and foundation, which I sprayed with sugar syrup. They haven't touch it yet tho. I can get the queen cells down to three and hopefully one will take and give me a good queen.
     
  6. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    If the upper deep has a honey cap and the rest of the 2 boxes are full, she has no room. She will not cross the honey cap. She will swarm instead.

    If you have an excluder under empty supers, they will not use them. You have to either bait them up or allow them to work in them before adding the excluder.
     
  7. The Mongo

    The Mongo New Member

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    I don't use an excluder and I don't have any honey yet in my top super. Is is possible to freeze one or two frames of brood per deep in the spring to keep the swarming impulse down? I live in town and it's just not an option for me to make a bunch of splits in the spring to keep the swarming minimized.
     
  8. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    In your case, I would do as I do here. Advertise a nuc for sell. When the customer comes with his hive, take the queen and 3 frames of brood and food and install in their hive. Let the hive raise a new queen. Easy money and easy swarm control.

    PS. If you have SHB in your area, DO NOT have 3 empty supers on at one time.
     
  9. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Hey Mongo, and welcome to the forum.

    Like Iddee says, if they run out of brood space they will swarm, regardless of how many honey supers you have on. If a hive is still congested after the primary swarm (with old queen) has left, they will throw afterswarms with virgin queens.
    Swarming is also a natural thing bees do and some have a little more tendency to do it than others. You probably won't find an egg laying queen for another 10 days to 3 weeks. The new queen will eliminate any competition and then have to go out on mating flights and then finally settle in and begin laying.
    If a silver lining is needed, you will have a break in your brood cycle resulting in a break of the mite life cycle. You will have a young queen with which to go into winter with as well. You have also experienced something remarkable (maybe not desired) and have gained some knowledge.
    And most importantly, you have found us! :thumbsup:
     
  10. The Mongo

    The Mongo New Member

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    Thanks PerryBee and Iddee for the help and insight today. I'll think about the Nuc for sale idea next time around.