Help! They are ready before I am!! Split Question

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by vermillion, May 1, 2012.

  1. vermillion

    vermillion New Member

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    Well, darnit.

    I got my first hive about 6 weeks ago, a full deep bubbling full of bees.

    Easter weekend I added a second deep, as they were really crowded and lots of pollen and nectar coming in. That was April 8.

    Sunday I checked them and found the queen in the super (deep) and a swarm cell underway in the bottom. There is lots of brood in both boxes, and they have drawn out most of the empty frames (I moved some from the top to the bottom, etc.) Its a booming hive, very nice!

    I need to split them, and I understand that. I have an extra medium with frames I can put on top of the strongest box after the split, and can get another on Sunday for the other box.

    But my mentor said I have until the swarm cell is capped to make the split, and so I thought I should do it today when there is a break in the rain. After that conversation I thought I had it covered....

    But then I got to thinking....what if I go in there and the cell is already capped? Is it too late? What do I do in that case? Carry on and hope for the best?

    In that case, should I also put my swarm trap up and not use that extra medium super on the more crowded box? (My last empty piece of equipment till sunday at the earliest unless I can get a top bar up here STAT.

    I forgot to ask all the possible scenarios when I was talking to my mentor, and now is is away from the service area.

    I appreciate any help, I am stressed at the thought of losing 40% of my bees out in the neighborhood, or catching them with no place to put them....


    THANKS!!
     
  2. dr.buzz

    dr.buzz New Member

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    Depends on what your goals are. Also keep in mind that once they decide to swarm, you might not be able to stop it. You may have to not worry about getting surplus honey, although in your state maybe the flow is always on. In other words, you can split and double your bees and maybe not get a surplus of honey, or you can try to stop the swarm (option 2 below) and keep a strong population that still gives you honey.
    Options that you can consider:
    1)Take the Queen and half the frames and do a split, leaving the swarm cell and other half of frames, filling in empty places with frames or foundation or whatever.....
    2) If you are sure they haven't swarmed yet, you might find and destroy all swarm cells and do a false swarm. Build a ramp with a piece of cardboard or sheet and shake all bees off on the ground. They will fly or crawl back up into the hive and you have simulated a swarm. Of course you'll shake a ton of nectar out and you don't want to step on the queen.
    3) Set up a swarm trap and either they go into it or go somewhere you can capture it and you have a swarm primed to draw comb...

    Sometimes they swarm as soon as the q-cell is capped, sometimes they wait until the virgin queen hatches.
    Sounds like they got honey bound faster than they could draw comb, so you'll want to intersperse empty frames with the honey bound frames in the brood chamber....
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    In my 35 years of beekeeping, I have never seen A swarm cell. 6,8,10, or more, yes. one, no. I would think you have a supercedure cell.

    This time of year, you should have ALL your swarm traps up, regardless of what your hives are doing.
     
  4. vermillion

    vermillion New Member

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    Thanks to both of you!

    So, anyway....

    We had a break in the bad weather, so I got my daughter up here and we did Dr. Buzz's option 1 above. I am not worried about harvesting honey this year, as we have 5 gallons left that my boyfriend got in return for helping a beekeeper with a cutout.

    Both hive boxes have lots of honey stores, brood, eggs, larvae, nectar pollen, etc. Also some comb not yet drawn out.

    I faced the box I took off in the opposite direction and put a branch in front of it. We waited a while and saw workers returning to both boxes with pollen.

    Idee, yes, actually, I didnt mention that of course there were a few swarm cells on the very bottoms a couple of frames, I would say 6 in all. But the one that got my attention was the biggest, and between sunday night and today it had been capped, darnit. At the moment I believe all of these cells are all in the same hive box, that is what I tried to organize anyway..... Yesterday it poured all day so nothing I could do, we got rained out mid inspection Sunday, too.

    (I have had 50 inches of rain since jan 1)

    I am just starting out, and I am comfortable with the hives at the beeyard I help out at, this is the first one I have had to make my own decisions about and I honestly thought if I added that second deep on April 8 they would be unlikely to swarm out. This queen/hive is only 3 months old....

    I am still waiting on the boat (literally) to arrive with more equipment, which will change the picture for me a lot.
    I am going to put the medium up on the most crowded box the next chance i get, it got really windy so we closed them up for the day.


    Thanks for your help!! I really do appreciate it. I am optimistic....
     
  5. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Thanks for the update. Sorry, this old foggy reads the info given for any hint as to what might be amiss. Small details sometimes make large differences.
     
  6. vermillion

    vermillion New Member

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    totally understood, Iddee. Sorry I left that out, I was trying to be succinct, not my best thing...

    I am debating what to do about the other swarm cells in this box, or any I might find in the one still housing the queen. Leave the ones in the queenless box and remove the ones in the box the queen is in?
     
  7. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    In a normal year, I would say leave them all. This is not a normal year. I have never seen as many swarms as I have seen this year. I can't tell you what you should do this time.
     
  8. vermillion

    vermillion New Member

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    Iddee....thanks.

    Its not a normal year here either. My garden is a swamp, the rain has knocked the blossoms off the trees, its a mess. I have weeds I have never seen, nothing happening on schedule, pineapples too soon, tomatoes keeling over.

    Beewise, on sunny days (FEW!!) swarms like crazy. Weather off kilter. My friend got a swarm off a shopping cart behind the supermarket on the second day of what turned out to be only three days of sun in a month of rain. Smart bees!!!

    We are just chasing the bees, their almananac seems to be working better than ours.