That fine line?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by afterburn001, May 15, 2012.

  1. afterburn001

    afterburn001 New Member

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    Michelle (my wife) and I have one hive that over wintered very well. So well that we have already took two frames of brood and 2 frames of honey from them to make a nuc about a month ago. We put a super on two weeks ago and they have about 3 frames dawned out. So now we have 2 deeps packed with bees on every frame and the super that they are working on. I want to make sure we get a good honey harvest so I would like to not split the hive if possible.

    Questions:

    Where is that line between a very healthy hive and a hive that is about to swarm?

    Can I simply add another super to give them plenty of room or should I make up another nuc?

    I may take a video of it the next inspection.
     
  2. Americasbeekeeper

    Americasbeekeeper New Member

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    You will know you crossed the line when they make swarm cells. If you keep a young queen, less than a year old in the hive it is less likely to swarm. Swarming is repreoduction and there are several biological factors, indicators, clues. Space is just one of many beekeepers focus on.
     

  3. afterburn001

    afterburn001 New Member

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    This is the queens second year. I'm not ready to let her go just yet. She is a machine! We had this package shipped clear across country last year and for some reason they shipped it normal mail. By the time it got here there were only a softball size worth of bees left alive. We hived them, feed them but pretty much wrote them off. In two and a half months she had grown the hive to the point where they outnumbered our healthy hive that was a 4 pound package that same year. I might split and let the nuc make their own queen. The genetics seem real good.

     
  4. bamabww

    bamabww New Member

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    I'd let her continue another year and let the bees decide when she's no longer a "machine".
     
  5. dr.buzz

    dr.buzz New Member

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    When they start to stash nectar in the brood nest you can see that they are wanting to swarm and she is running out of room to lay eggs. Just adding a super of foundation might not help much because if the foragers are bringing in nectar faster than the foundation can be drawn out by house bees, they'll backfill the brood nest. If you do start to see nectar in the brood area, those middle frames, you can replace them with foundation or foundationless frames, and that will occupy them. Unemployed house/nurse bees seems to be a problem, so keep them busy. You can also look up some of Walter Wright's articles about checkerboarding for increased honey and reduced swarming....He advocates breaking up the honey dome overhead in early spring and adding lots of drawn comb overhead, which can be hard if you don't have surplus drawn comb.

    What I started playing with this year was building up strong hives, then two weeks before the flow kicks in, removing the queen and a couple frames to make up nucs. That way you have a strong population right when you need it, no brood for them to feed and care for (because it can take a month for their newly created queen to emerge, get mated and even start to lay, and another couple weeks to really get a good brood nest going) so they have roughly six weeks of flow to draw comb and gather surplus nectar. They won't swarm without a queen, and by the time the new queen really gets going the flow is tapering off (around here anyway) and you can have an extra 100 lbs of honey that didn't have to go to feeding larvae that wasn't going to hatch and mature in time to gather any nectar anyway. Meanwhile your nuc is building itself up on the flow so you don't need to feed them much, and you end up with two hives instead of one.