Swarm management and population boosting.

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by heinleinfan, May 28, 2012.

  1. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    The wind died down enough yesterday afternoon to go in and inspect my two hives and the garden hive. I'm a little worried about Beta...honestly, in my years of keeping I've never had to deal with swarm management before.

    I can recognize, now, "we're outta here, too crowded" and "we're totally doing swarm prep right now". But I'm not sure how to tell when it's "we're really full and productive and we're gonna make tons of honey!!!" and how to keep a hive at the balancing point.

    I saw 4 queen cups yesterday in Beta. Two on faces of frames, two on ends of frames (but where the foundation doesn't reach the bottom of the frames) and all just empty cups, not any bigger than that. I cut them all out after making sure they were empty. But that hive has a lot of food stores plus a 1/3 full honey super. I don't think I'd say they were fully backfilled yet, there's still some space on brood frames, but they're definitely starting to backfill.

    So here's my plan, tell me what you think:
    -I plan on taking 2-3 frames of brood, along with 1-2 frames of food, from Beta today and adding it to Garden hive. These will be replaced with empty frames, mostly not drawn out or only drawn a little. (And I'll only pull and replace from the outer brood nest edges, not the centers.)
    -Beta's honey super got 3 frames taken out day before yesterday and those were replaced with empties, and 2 frames have no drawn comb on one side of them. All these empties and half drawn are interspersed between the 5 fully drawn, most of which are about half full of capped.

    My thinking is that Beta is no where close to starving, they've a ton of food and the honey super to draw from, and tons of foragers. I do not have another box, or the space, for a 3rd hive, so I can't do an actual nuc or split. Garden hive has the lowest population of the three, and only about 12 fully drawn frames currently. So, I want to give them more population, food, and drawn comb to work with.

    What do you think of this plan? Any thing sound like it might frack up Garden or Beta if I go this route? Think it will be sufficient to keep Beta from deciding to swarm again?

    Also, I've always read you can't just stick bees from one hive into another, or you're gonna have a war on your hands. BUT, then I have seen a couple people comment here that they do just that with brood frames, just stick them in covered in nurse bees.

    Thoughts on this? I don't want to overburden Garden with not enough nurse bees for the brood I give them, but don't want a war on and don't have spare boxes for a newspaper combine.

    I'm also going to super up Alpha today; they aren't backfilling at all but I think they're ready for a super despite being a first year split and we're in a flow right now.
     
  2. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    Nurse bees aren't inclined to be hostile, and the receiving bees, readily accept the upcoming help is your giving them mostly sealed brood, makes sense, but to give them larvae that will consume quite some little bit of stores from a colony that is light to begin with well. In my mind ( Be it what it may ), are alot of resources that they don't have yet. if your giving them sealed brood, then in a few days there will be a considerable increase in population, the queen will have new cells to lay eggs in, and brood bees to take care of the new brood.
    Barry
     

  3. vermillion

    vermillion New Member

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    At the beeyard where I work on sundays (mentor's yard) we are constantly pulling frames and moving them, often with nursebees. We never have any trouble with that.

    I moved two frames of brood with n/b myself yesterday from my swarm catch hive back to where they came from because that population had tanked after throwing two more swarms....they are so far dandy and fine with the arrangement.

    I am very new, but I also tried to avert a swarm in the manner you describe, including splitting the hive and putting the swarm cells all in a new deep. This removed the swarm cells and provided more room for the bees in my Hive A. But they swarmed anyway. It seems they had flipped the on switch and they were determined to go!

    Good luck!
     
  4. Zookeep

    Zookeep Active Member

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    vermillion , once a hive wants to swarm they will, if you take the old queen out with a few frames they think they did and go about raising a new queen, now if you have alot of swarm cells you can take a few out to raise in nucs.
     
  5. dr.buzz

    dr.buzz New Member

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    My comments overlap some of what's already been said.....

    If you are wanting to interrupt or stave off swarm prep, it's the middle of the brood nest that you want to take frames out of. Taking stores from the outer edges doesn't serve the same purpose. Take frames from the middle and put (preferably, in my opinion) foundationless frames in their place. That gives the nurse bees something to do besides want to swarm, and when they draw comb, the queen has a place to lay. If you put empty frames on the outside of the brood nest, she might never lay there. And they don't always fill every frame before they swarm. They sometimes chimney up from the middle of the bottom box to the middle frames of the upper box(es) and swarm, leaving all outside frames empty. So what you look at and think is plenty of room for her to expand may not coincide with their plans.

    I avoid giving open larvae to weak hives, it's a drain on their resources. I've been known to actually take a frame of eggs/larvae from a weak hive and exchange it for a frame of capped brood from a stronger hive. I'll shake the bees off the larvae frame so weak hive keeps them, and leave bees on the capped frame so the weak hive gets them, too.

    And yeah, that's why the middle of the day is a good time to do this, less chance of foragers on the frame(s). Nurse bees can go into any hive you want to give them to.....
     
  6. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I read her post a bit differently, Dr. I read she takes brood outer frames, not storage frames. Many feel you should leave the brood nest intact in the center and not split it up. The way I see her doing it leaves it intact and gives space in the brood nest, for nest expansion in both directions.

    She can tell us which read it right.
     
  7. dr.buzz

    dr.buzz New Member

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    Yeah, I think you read it correctlier than me. She did say outer brood frames. The jury will disregard. :grin:
     
  8. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    Heh, "correctlier" might be my new favorite word.

    Yes, I did mean that I was going to take just the outer edges from the brood nest. The bottom box had *no* room left really at all for anything, and had a brood nest 6 frames across, so I took one from each edge and replaced them with frames from the garden, one of which was mostly drawn out but still empty.

    I'll check in a few days to see if they're moving down, if not I'll swap the boxes.

    It went smooth and easy, though at the end a lady got stuck in my hair, and got me on the neck *just* as I had gotten her untangled from my curls. Poor thing.
     
  9. bamabww

    bamabww New Member

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    I haven't done what you are planning as such but I have moved frames full of brood and bees from one hive to another but always find the queen before I do. If I can't find her, I don't move until I do. Never had any problems with doing it this way.
     
  10. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I sometimes call this process leveling.... brood or feed or bees applies. Sometimes I move sealed brood (which I think is what dr buzz is suggesting) with or without bees attached. This seems to represent little problem but certainly there is some hazard in moving the adult population (especially if the add too hives is very weak). If excessively concerned about adding adults... brush off the adult bees. If you want to try moving the adults place the frame at the outside edge of the box with a bit of extra space between the existing frame and the added frame. From here some advantage may be obtained by adding some spray with a masking sent like wintergreen.
     
  11. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    The garden hive was the weakest of my three, but not what I would call weak. Tec, I like that term, 'leveling'. I just wanted to un-crowd Beta and give the garden hive an even better population.

    I did spritz them all down with sugar water before moving them. I went reading about the not-removing-bees and saw that mentioned a couple of places. And I use sugar spray when inspecting, so figured, eh, why not. If I do this again, I can crush up some mint leaves into it, thanks for the tip.

    Bamabww, we didn't go looking for her specifically because we didn't want to tear through the entire hive again since we had inspected the day before; this bottom box was the full one with no space to lay, and nearly all capped and not as many bees on frames so it was a clearer look so we are confident we didn't move her. My husband picks on me because I overly worry about queens. Every single time we finish an inspection, every time in four years, I look at the closed hive and go "Well, we were careful, I hope we didn't squish the queen" and my husband just rolls his eyes and pretends to smack me upside the head and goes "Would you stop that!" :lol: