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Author Topic: Advice appreciated - spring inspection- swarm cell  (Read 2228 times)
OzBuzz
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« on: September 17, 2010, 10:12:54 PM »

Hi everybody, week 3 of spring here-swarms have started. I did an inspection on my hives today. One of them is booming-frames full of capped brood (light wasn't great to see eggs). Added an additional super last weekend and they've gotten to work drawing it out. I found one queen cup on the bottom of a frame though-it was still open but appeared to have a pool of jelly and a tiny pupae curled up on the wall (it wasn't sitting in the bottom of the cup). What should I do? If it gets capped take the current queen and some brood, workers and stores and make a nuc? If it's capped is it too late to do that? If they were going to swarm wouldn't you see more? The light wasn't great but I'm confident it was a pupae I saw in there... Any advice appreciated.
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iddee
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« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2010, 11:01:57 PM »

>>>>If they were going to swarm wouldn't you see more?<<<<

YES....

Don't worry about that one. Check again in 5 to 7 days and then you will know if you have a problem. They will likely remove that one or build a half dozen more.
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2010, 05:44:18 PM »

More important than adding supers (if you want to prevent swarms) is to open the brood nest.  Add empty frames into the heart of the brood nest to convince the hive that it is not ready to swarm.  Michael Bush suggests every third brood frame should be replaced with an empty one in the pattern:  BBEBBEBBE where B is brood and E is empty.  This means that each empty frame has two full frames on either side thus reducing chill brood.  http://www.bushfarms.com/beesswarmcontrol.htm#opening

If you get multiple swarm cells, that is an ideal opportunity to take each frame with a swarm cell and start a nuc.  Just don't use all the cells or you might end up queenless.
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« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2010, 07:14:47 AM »

You know, OzBuzz, these questions you ask are very helpful to me as I look toward spring in the US. I keep rehearsing in my mind how I'll do things differently when I deal with swarm cells in my hives in May. I can't tell you how much I learned by making a million mistakes this spring. Now I'm reminded to keep the broodnest open. Keep the broodnest open. Keep the broodnest open.

Liz
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OzBuzz
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« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2010, 07:27:43 PM »

Thanks guys for all of your advice, and TwoHoneys - glad i can be of assistance Smiley

So in regard opening up the brood nest - do i simply take frames of brood out, put in undrawn foundation (as per FrameShifts post) and then move those brood frames in to the upper box? How do i move them up (and no, i don't mean od i use my hands to lift them up hahah)? should i pyramid them above the existing brood nest in the bottom box?
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2010, 08:33:42 PM »

First, Michael Bush's suggestion was not to add foundation but empty foundationless frames.  If you don't want to do that, undrawn foundation would be the second best.   You move the removed brood frames out to the sides and the frames on the sides go up to the next box.  You want to keep the brood frames contiguous except for the new frames you are adding.  If you spread the brood out too much, they will not stay warm.

A related technique you can use this time of year (in Oz) is called checkerboarding.  You alternate empty drawn comb with honey frames directly above the brood nest.
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« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2010, 09:47:34 PM »

You know, OzBuzz, these questions you ask are very helpful to me as I look toward spring in the US. I keep rehearsing in my mind how I'll do things differently when I deal with swarm cells in my hives in May. I can't tell you how much I learned by making a million mistakes this spring. Now I'm reminded to keep the broodnest open. Keep the broodnest open. Keep the broodnest open.

Liz

I feel the same way as you. This is my first year as well and I feel that I have learned alot through my mistakes earlier in the spring.  I already have my nuc's made up and have decided on alot of my how's, when's and where's. Ditto..Keep the broodnest open
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tecumseh
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« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2010, 07:20:29 AM »

since a hive begins preparation to swarm some 30 days prior to drawing cells anything you do once cells are drawn is unlikely to have much benefit.

I suspect adding frames (or checkerboarding whatever that might mean) is a bit like considering buying fire insurance once the barn has burned down.  If you still have the potential for cold weather such manipulation also has considerable downside.   If it was me I would consider doing something much simplier... like removing the old queen in the form of a very strong nuc. The number of frames and bees somewhat to highly dependent on the number of frames of brood present when I made the split.
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Cullz
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« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2010, 07:52:37 AM »

If as tecumseh says it's a bit far gone and going to swarm anyway, provided you can find the queen, you can do a shook swarm;
 
  • take queen and a frame with brood/honey/pollen
  • place into new box with empty frames
  • put new box in old place to catch flying bees, move old hive away a bit
  • go through original hive frame by frame and shake most of bees in front of original location so they go in (old hive needs nurse bees to raise brood)
  • move original hive to new place

New hive has the queen and the flying bees, but almost no brood or honey stores, so it shouldn't be ready to swarm.

Old hive has no queen and not many flying bees, so it shouldn't be ready to swarm. Can leave them a cell to raise a queen or instead combine with a weaker hive.
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2010, 08:37:49 AM »

The hive can change it's mind.  A swarm is not irrevocably decided 30 days in advance.  We have had capped queen cells on numerous occasions with no swarm.  Pulling the queen into a nuc is a good solution IF you want another hive.  It's a lot of trouble if you don't.  Tecumseh is correct that cold weather is an issue.  Don't put in too many empty frames too close together. 
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caticind
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« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2010, 01:20:03 PM »

Since OzBuzz is looking at just one queen cup - I doubt that colony has irrevocably committed itself to swarming.  Watch and wait.
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« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2010, 06:56:51 AM »

a frameshift snip..
The hive can change it's mind.  a swarm is not irrevocably decided 30 days in advance.  We have had capped queen cells on numerous occasions with no swarm.  Pulling the queen into a nuc is a good solution IF you want another hive.

tecumseh:
I would very much agree that the preparation I spoke of does not irrevocable set a hive to swarm.  I still maintain however that trying to halt the race just as the horses are about to jump from the gate just a bit too little and too late.

if* there is in fact only one cell then I would suspect the hive is in fact not preparing to swarm since swarming (most especially early in the season) usually means multiple cells.  early in the season one cell typically means someone placed one frame (with eggs) a bit far from the central cluster and the bees on that frame thinking they were queenless did what their genes instructed them to do.  I suspect a vigorous young queen will tear these down when the cell reaches the latter pupae stage.  an older queen may miss the cell which typically results in superscedure.

*cells along the margin of a langstroth hive's frames are very easily missed by even a seasoned beekeeper.  I would suspect even more so for a new beekeeper.  
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bugleman
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« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2010, 11:07:41 AM »

since a hive begins preparation to swarm some 30 days prior to drawing cells anything you do once cells are drawn is unlikely to have much benefit.


Sorry to contridict but your statement is partially untrue.

As long as the cells are uncapped or just capped you can make manipulations that will get the bees to forget about swarm ambition.

1) Open up the brood nest of every box with 1 - 2 new frames.

2) Checkerboard overhead honey.

3)Wipe out swarm cells, the bees will get what you miss most likely.  Just make sure the queen is still laying.  Smiley
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2010, 08:44:15 PM »


3)Wipe out swarm cells, the bees will get what you miss most likely.  Just make sure the queen is still laying.  Smiley


I agree on opening the brood nest and checkerboarding ... but...

I would say it's almost always a mistake to destroy swarm cells.  If the bees don't need them, they will destroy them.  If they do need the spare queens and you remove them, you may end up queenless.  Pull out some cells for nucs but destroying them usually does not accomplish anything.
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OzBuzz
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« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2010, 09:18:03 PM »

Thanks Guys for all of your feedback - i like the wait and see approach! it's going to be a beautiful weekend here this weekend so i will open them up! it's been seven days since my last inspection where i saw one cell. I am keen to get more hives and i would especially like more queens and genetics from the hive which the swarm cell is present in (i actually want to try and breed some queens from this hive)! she's a machine! I like the idea of taking the cells and making nucs along with opening up the brood nest. I don't have any frames of honey above the brood nest - just an 8 frame box with frames that they're working on drawing out. I'll inspect this weekend and open things up a little with what drawn foundation i can find from the box above - if there are a few frames of stores i'll move them up and replace them with the foundation from the top box (last weekend i noticed four frames were well along and i expect they'll probably have drawn out all of them by this weekend - we have a huge flow of wild mustard here at the moment) - if there are more Queen cells then i will consider my next move from there. If the one i found is capped should i immediately act and take the Queen out as per Cullz suggestions
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Cullz
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« Reply #15 on: September 21, 2010, 09:45:10 PM »

I started doing it after I'd seen several swarms already. Colonies were building multiple cells of different ages.

Taking out the queen wont necessarily stop them swarming if there's any more than one queen cell on the go. Although you'd get to keep the first queen.

Separating the queen and most of the flying bees from the brood like a swarm does - gives the bees the conditions as if they'd swarmed already.

--
Also, provided you have enough hives, if you take the queen out and the ripe cells and put them in nucs, then you can come back and get the new batch of capped cells to put in nucs. With some capped brood and some honey and pollen. If conditions are good; drones, warm weather; after they emerge, you get several new queens from the desired mother, crossed with local drones, to start new hives.
Only makes one hive queenless to make quite a few queens, instead of splitting each hive into two or some other methods of splitting.
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2010, 10:12:19 PM »


Separating the queen and most of the flying bees from the brood like a swarm does - gives the bees the conditions as if they'd swarmed already.

We've had success doing it a bit differently.   We move the queen and a few frames of brood and honey to a new location.  The foragers will return to the old hive.  The old hive will not swarm for some time since it has no queen.  The new hive with the queen will not swarm because there are no foragers.  Tends to lock both hives in place for a while.

Swarms are actually biased toward young bees.  It's not just foragers.
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hardwood
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« Reply #17 on: September 21, 2010, 10:21:43 PM »

I'll echo that....I move the queen with three frames of brood/eggs and a frame of honey/pollen and 1 frame of drawn comb.

Scott
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« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2010, 09:00:56 AM »

With only 1 queen cell it sounds more like a supercedure cell.....doesn't it?
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OzBuzz
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« Reply #19 on: September 23, 2010, 09:41:00 PM »

I'd expect that they would still make more than one as a back up - it's also on the bottom of the frame.

But the Queen that's in there is laying beautifully! frames packed full of brood! the hive is booming!
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tecumseh
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« Reply #20 on: September 24, 2010, 07:25:30 AM »

snip..
As long as the cells are uncapped or just capped you can make manipulations that will get the bees to forget about swarm ambition.

tecumseh:
humm... this in contradictory to everything I know or any number of books (contemporary queen rearing, bioliogy of the honeybee) I have read suggest.  the fundamental rule is once started bees will not tear down cells even under some of the most unusual conditions. 

another snip...
1) Open up the brood nest of every box with 1 - 2 new frames.

2) Checkerboard overhead honey.

3)Wipe out swarm cells, the bees will get what you miss most likely.  Just make sure the queen is still laying.

tecumseh:
neither 1 nor 2 will alter the hives thinking in regards to finishing a started cell.  If the hives has begun preparation to swarm neither 1 nor 2 will alter this outcome one iota.  PERHAPS??? if 1 and/or 2 was done 30 days prior to the cell being started then either MIGHT have some effect.   as I previously suggested cells are often times not that easy to spot and whether a queen is laying or not laying may provide NO information as to whether the hive in question is preparing to superscede the queen.

at the end of the day I don't think that 'wait and see' is such a bad strategy.     
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #21 on: September 24, 2010, 10:49:03 AM »



tecumseh:
the fundamental rule is once started bees will not tear down cells even under some of the most unusual conditions. 
tecumseh,  I must be misunderstanding something here.  Bees build and tear down queen cells all the time.  We have one hive that seems to keep a queen cell or two in reserve, constantly building the cells, capping them, and then tearing them out.  Either these bees are in a constant state of indecision about swarming or they are just playing it safe as far as possible supercedure.  If you mean that they won't stop once they are committed to swarm, that may be right... but how do you know when they have committed?  Building a queen cell is clearly not the signal, since they reverse that all the time. 

And where does this 30 day number come in?  I can't say I've ever read or heard that bees make a decision 30 days in advance.  And how could you know the 30 day clock had started unless there is a clear signal?  Opening the brood nest and checkerboarding have been reported to be successful in reducing swarm behavior.  Does opening the brood nest force a reversal of a 30 day swarm decision?  How could you know without a signal that a decision had been made?  What is that signal?
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« Reply #22 on: September 24, 2010, 01:20:21 PM »

That's why the "false" or "forced" swarm works so well...we really don't know exactly when they decide to start the swarming procedures. We do know when they start swarm cells however so removing the queen (making a split with her) creates a simulated swarm to the hive. If for some reason the new queen(s) don't make it back from mating, or are poorly mated, you still have the mother queen as a back up.

Scott
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"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Theodore Roosevelt 1907
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« Reply #23 on: October 24, 2010, 04:31:00 AM »

With only 1 queen cell it sounds more like a supercedure cell.....doesn't it?

Yes indeed!

I find single cells in the bottom of the brood nest (not hanging off of bottom bars)  They show up in april in the majority of my hives after they have burned through the checkerboarded honey and they have 3 boxes of brood.

I would expect people to murmor, "Say what? I ain't ever heard of that, what is this fool talking about"
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bugleman
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« Reply #24 on: October 24, 2010, 04:33:29 AM »

Also beware, sometimes they swarm because they, the bees, not me, can tell the queen is failing.
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