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Author Topic: Swarm warning signs?  (Read 994 times)

Offline JhnR

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Swarm warning signs?
« on: May 10, 2009, 10:09:12 AM »
I live in the White mountains of NH with night temps still in the 40's. I did a complete inspection of an overwintered 3 box, 8 frame medium hive. The queen was in the top box looking for a place to lay but it was full of brood w/a little honey in the corners (no drone cells). Frames 9 through 5 in the middle box were also sealed brood from end bar to end bar w/ no honey in the corners (no drone cells). Frames 4 through 2 were 3/4 drone cells on both sides (no worker cells or honey). Frame 1 and the lower box were solid honey.
I found NO swarm cells. I added a fourth box of drawn frames then reassembled the hive.

I will remove the lower box but I'm concerned about all the drone comb.  That's a few thousand drones. I plan to do a mite check by removing some  but is this the first sign that they plan to swarm? If I remove the drone frames will this delay a swarm? I may be reading this wrong....would a virgin queen mate with these drones..inbreeding? My days are getting warm enough for mating flights. I will wait a few days and check for new eggs but it will take time to see if she has become a drone layer, unless I have a laying worker which will have multiple eggs. I did not look for new eggs because of the number of bees.

I hived 9 nucs yesterday with very few drones. I need to slow this hive until my order of boxes arrives to do a split (backordered). I have a Sundance II top pollen trap but no queen includer. I do have three cardboard deep nucs but I'm hesitant to use them because of spring rain and overheating.

I may need as long as two weeks.....what can I do gang.


Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Swarm warning signs?
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2009, 08:37:51 PM »
I'd uncap a few of the drones and look for Varroa.  I'd also look for open brood and capped WORKER brood.  If you have a nice pattern of larvae in worker brood, I'd say the queen is doing fine.  I don't know why they decided to rear so many drones.  If you have a lot of Varroa in the drone brood, you could cut it out.  That would give them some room to work and get rid of some Varroa.
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Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: Swarm warning signs?
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2009, 02:38:32 AM »
Sometimes a lot of drones early will be followed by a supercedure cell a little later, signaling a unsatisfactory queen from the hives view point.  The drones have to have time to mature, at least twice the time that it takes to raise a queen from an egg and have her mate. 
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Offline RayMarler

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Re: Swarm warning signs?
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2009, 02:44:07 AM »
It sounds to me more like they were raising all the drones in prep for swarming, as the stack of boxes sounds like they are pretty plugged out with not much room for the queen to lay, all sealed brood pollen and honey throughout the hive. Adding a drawn box on top was just the thing to do, giving open room above the queen's box to move honey up and free up more room for the broodnest. Raising lots of drones with the hive as plugged as you describe is what I've noticed in my hives in the spring build up season so is sign for me to add space above the brood, which in your case was the top box.
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