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Author Topic: 3 Swarms! Now what do I do?  (Read 659 times)

Offline dogdrs

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3 Swarms! Now what do I do?
« on: June 18, 2009, 07:43:58 PM »
Just got 2 hives in April here in Florida.  I know the standard hive down here is one deep then supers.  One of the hives built up faster than I was prepared for and swarmed around the 1st or 2nd of June.  I didn't know at that time to go in and cut out most of the queen cells, so on the 12th of June, the hive swarmed again.   2 days later I went in and removed all but 2 queen cells that I found.  Well, just this evening they swarmed AGAIN!  That's THREE swarms in less than 3 weeks!  HELP!  Should I go in again and remove queen cells?  Should I get a new queen?  Should I leave well enough alone?  The 2 swarms that I observed ended up 30 ft up in a tree so I  can not retrieve them.  The 2 swarms that I saw looked like they took at least a couple of pounds of bees each and I didn't observe the first one! I'm sure when I inspect the next time there will be very few bees left and probably very little brood. Somebody please tell me what my next step should be.   thanks, dogdrs.   

Offline kathyp

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Re: 3 Swarms! Now what do I do?
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2009, 12:16:25 AM »
that sucks.  some hives are like that.

when you check again, see how many bees are in there and if there are any swarm cells.  if there are still a lot of bees and there are swarm cells, you can either move the swarm cells and a couple of frames of brood (with bees) to a  new box, or (and i prefer this) move the queen and a couple of frames of workers to a new box.

my theory on these multiple swarm hives is that they let to many queens live.  instead of just keeping one, as most hives do after a swarm, they keep several and end up swarming over and over. if you split the hive, watch for the new queen to start laying.  then i would make sure there are no other queen cells made or being made.  i know this goes against CW, but you want to try and break the swarm cycle.  the worst that will happen is that you'll have to combine the hives again.

also watch the hive with the old queen.  hopefully they won't feel the need to swarm if the size of the hive is reduced.

if there are not enough bees, you can boost the hive with frames from your other hive, or combine the two. 
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Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: 3 Swarms! Now what do I do?
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2009, 08:58:47 PM »
After swarms occur because of a staggered development of queen cells.  The bees will build some queen cells, then they will build some more on a different frame or super a few days or a week later, and so on.  The more staggered the building of the queen cells the more series of queen hatches will occur in the hive.  In other words, for each series of queen cells the hive will swarm. 

It goes like this:  The queens from the first series of queen cells hatch and the hive swarms and the queens fight it out and the survivor becomes the new head mama.
A few days later thenest series of queen cells hatches out and the resident queen swarms leaving the new queens to fight it out and the survivor becomes the matriach.
Then the queens from the 3rd series of queen cells hatches and the we repeat the process.  The process can be repeated as many as 12 times (that's the record I'm personally aware of).

The best solution to this is to do controlled splits with each frame containing queen cells into different nucs.  The queens from each frame hatch out in different nucs and only fight for survival with their sisters from the same frame.  You now have the option of retaining all the hives or dispatching some of the queens and combining them back together or use them to replace other less-productive queens in the yard.
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