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Author Topic: Honey Bound Swarm Factor ?  (Read 1838 times)
Tucker1
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« on: June 29, 2008, 12:10:43 AM »

The other day I witnessed a swarm at my hive. It was very impressive, (see earlier post) ..... but I couldn't understand why. This was a colony I started from a package of bees that I hived April 12th. The girls had two large brood boxes, plus two supers. I placed the supers on the hive a good 5 weeks ago. I rotated the brood boxes in a effort to get some uniform comb in each box. Over the period of the last 5 weeks, the girls were not building of comb in the two supers, that were above a plastic queen excluder. Monitoring the two supers, I only saw a small number of bees above the queen excluder. (Hmmmm.)

This afternoon I inspected the hive. Both of the brood boxes were every heavy with honey. I did find a opened queen cell at the bottom of a frame. There was far far more honey than brood in the two brood boxes. Luckily, I found fresh larva so, it looks like I have a queen that is laying.  Part of the problem may be that the brood boxes are so full of honey, there isn't much comb available for brood in the two brood boxes.

I rotated the two brood boxes and removed the queen excluder from the top of the upper brood box today. I also off-set the two supers in the hope of providing a little more ventilation and encouraging movement to the two supers. (No more excluder)

Having said all this .................... was the swarm caused by the brood boxes being full of honey and there being little space for new brood Huh  My original queen seemed to be a real work horse and perhaps the lack of available comb made her leave.  Or something else cause the swarm.

What surprised me is that I still have lots and lots of bees, so this doesn't seem to make sense.

Any ideas ?

Regards,
Tucker1
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Robo
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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2008, 06:49:11 AM »

Crowding is a big factor in swarming.  Read up on checkerboarding,  it will help you out.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2008, 10:40:32 PM »

The other day I witnessed a swarm at my hive. It was very impressive, (see earlier post) ..... but I couldn't understand why. This was a colony I started from a package of bees that I hived April 12th. The girls had two large brood boxes, plus two supers. I placed the supers on the hive a good 5 weeks ago. I rotated the brood boxes in a effort to get some uniform comb in each box. Over the period of the last 5 weeks, the girls were not building of comb in the two supers, that were above a plastic queen excluder. Monitoring the two supers, I only saw a small number of bees above the queen excluder. (Hmmmm.)

Bees will usually not pass through a queen excluder unless baited bt partially drawn frames of comb and honey/necdtar.  If you want bees to work the supers leave the excluder off until after they have begun working the frames.  You just found out why queen excluders are also called honey excluders.
Too often the excluder works just like an inner top and the bees back fill the brood chamber and swarm.

Quote
This afternoon I inspected the hive. Both of the brood boxes were every heavy with honey. I did find a opened queen cell at the bottom of a frame. There was far far more honey than brood in the two brood boxes. Luckily, I found fresh larva so, it looks like I have a queen that is laying.  Part of the problem may be that the brood boxes are so full of honey, there isn't much comb available for brood in the two brood boxes.

This condition is called honey bound, it is usually the 1st sign the beekeeper has of potential swarming.  When the bees begin to place nectar or pollen in amoungst the brood cells as the brood hatches they are back filling the brood chamber and on their way to becoming honey bound and swarming.  At the 1st sign of honey or pollen in brood cells immediate swarm pervention measures need to be taken.

Quote
I rotated the two brood boxes and removed the queen excluder from the top of the upper brood box today. I also off-set the two supers in the hope of providing a little more ventilation and encouraging movement to the two supers. (No more excluder)

Having said all this .................... was the swarm caused by the brood boxes being full of honey and there being little space for new brood Huh  My original queen seemed to be a real work horse and perhaps the lack of available comb made her leave.  Or something else cause the swarm.

What surprised me is that I still have lots and lots of bees, so this doesn't seem to make sense.

Any ideas ?

Regards,
Tucker1


The queen leaves with mostly young nurse age bees and some foragers, the younger bees are necessary to insure the swarm population survives long enough to build enough comb for the queen to begin rearing brood in the new location asap and have them begin hatching asap.  The foragers out of the hive remain with the original colony and will backfill the brood cells as the brood hatches because the new queen isn't going to be laying right away and as long as a small area on 1-3 frames are saved for the new queen to begin laying everything works because the bees will begin using the honey and pollen stored in the brood area to feed to new larvae and the brood chamber is gradually returned to full size after a month or so. 

It was a good move to remove the excluder, now if the super is the same size as the brood chambers move up some of the frames of honey to bait the bees up into the super.  Wait until they get to working thesuper well before replacing the excluder (if you find it necessary to use 1).
« Last Edit: July 01, 2008, 09:18:47 PM by Brian D. Bray » Logged

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Tucker1
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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2008, 11:54:29 AM »

Thanks for the replies. I feel stupid not preventing the swarm. I just need to be more observant. (and gain more experience)

The queen I had seemed to be a great egg producer. When I first found her, I was surprised how long she was compared to the workers. When I looked for the new queen on Saturday I didn't find her, but I did find several small larva. The swarm took place on June 25th (Wed.) , so it's possible I don't have another queen and that the larva are from the old queen.

I did find a peanut shaped cell that had "hatched", but did not find a new queen. If I recall correctly, she looks like other female bees until she developed and "fills out".  Am I correct in this statement ?

May be I was mistaken and the small larva I found on Saturday, was from the old queen.   ...... If this is the case, do I now wait until the hive produces another queen?

The two supers that I have are not the same size as my brood boxes, but..... I have a spare empty brood box and empty frames. I could replace the smaller empty suppers with the empty spare brood box and place some of the honey filled larger frames in this third brood box.  I could also place some of the new empty frames in the lower two brood boxes.  When I was done, I'd end up with three large boxes. The two on the bottom would be for the colony and would include several empty frames and some frames with honey. The upper box (now larger) would include several partial frames of honey.  I'm nervous about using the queen excluder again, seeing that is "encouraged" swarming.  Does this seem like a reasonable plan?

I tried to look up checker boarding, but couldn't find anything on the web. Do you know of a link to the topic? 

In spite of the loss, I must say I really enjoy working with the girls. When I take my breaks at work I walk down to the hive and check that everything is OK. It's a fascinating endeavor. The learning is more than half the enjoyment !! 

Regards,
Tucker1
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qa33010
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« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2008, 03:55:39 PM »

   Here are a couple links.  Hope they help.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesexperiment.htm

http://www.knology.net/~k4vb/all%20walt%20articles.htm

There are other links with each page... the second link is to Walt's articles...
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