Hi Everybody... so, year 1 of my beekeeping career is progressing nicely - i started the year with 1 hive and so far have 20! But i'm at the point where i need to ask some genuine questions of those with experience...any advice you could give me is appreciated:
1) I have one hive, my favourite, a prolific producer of both brood and their nectar and pollen gathering capacity is amazing. She is currently four boxes high (I think i might have gotten a little excited and put another box on too soon although they had drawn out and mostly filled the third box when i added it). The problem i have with this hive is she is slowing down her laying and they seem to be back filling with honey. Now she is not making any moves to swarm - so far - one beek i spoke to said it's like us - if we had 2 million in our bank account would we get out of bed of a morning to go to work? All of my hives are on a flow at the moment! this hive has drawn and filled two supers of nectar in two weeks. I am guessing to get her laying again i need to reduce the amount of nectar on the hive - but none of it is capped yet. So what do i do to encourage her to lay but also cap this honey without backfilling the brood nest with honey and swarming or shutting down laying?
2) Going excluderless for honey production - this is my first time setting my hives up for honey production. I'm going excluderless with them all. In your experience have you found that bees will only lay down pure honey (no honey/brood mix) in the 3rd box i.e. they use the two lower boxes as brood chambers? I have some of my hives as only two boxes high at the moment and i want to get some honey from them. Will i have to wait until i put the third box on?
3) Combining swarms - I've gotten a lot of swarms and i am at the point where i want to focus on making stronger hives rather than increasing numbers. So i want to combine these swarms with some of my hives that could do with a boost. I want to use the newspaper combine method - but should i have an entrance on the top box and frames in there or should i just put a sheet of newspaper down with slits in it and dump the bees on top of that and then put a lid on? Also, it would obviously be recommended to find the queen first correct?
4) Supersedure - i have three hives that, i think, have superseded their queen. Numbers are still high and the cells were located high on the frames - i'm hoping i've been a good beekepeere and discouraged swarming to date. In any case queens have hatched in two of them - i haven't seen them yet but i have seen an open cell, some of the others have been torn down, and there is some eggs in some of those three hives. There are also other queen cells still not torn down. Should i remove those to discourage swarming?
5) When is honey ripe enough to extract? does it have to be fully capped?
I think that's it for now :)
I appreciate all of your thoughts and advice - thanks for your time