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Author Topic: How long should this be taking????  (Read 3177 times)
SherryL
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« on: June 17, 2005, 12:59:33 PM »

OK, I started putting Ross Round supers on one of my hives 4 weeks ago.  The first week the super had gotten knocked off the brood box while I was away, but still, that first box has been on 24/7 since at least the 23rd or 24th of May.  

Checking once a week the bees have been drawing the comb nicely right along.  Last Sunday it looked as though the girls had almost all the comb drawn in the first box and those rounds that were fully drawn looked to be full of nectar too.  I have to say, it's hard to judge with so little of the surface readily visible, plus SO MANY bees walking around in them. Due to their sheer numbers I've been adding more supers for them - I have 4 on that hive now.  Just checked to see if the first (bottom) super was ready to come off... they don't have ANY cappings started!  

How much longer?  We've had really good weather.  With the exception of one all-day rain this week, it's been 70's, sunny, and dry.  

I don't know why, but I guess I was expecting these rounds to fill and cap within 3 weeks for sure - it'll be at least a month before this first super is ready to come off, and they've barely started drawing foundation on the others.  Is this normal?  (whatever that is)

sherry
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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2005, 03:07:10 PM »

Do you have four Ross Round supers on?  I'd take some off and crowd the bees into finishing the super that's furthest along.  Three weeks sounds about right to me, but then I've not done Ross Rounds.  Just the old style basswood boxes.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2005, 03:57:21 PM »

If you don't remove an entire brood box or two's worth of combs and honey and open brood, they may not work them at all.  A cut down split is the necessary step to getting any kind of cassette honey system filled.  Take all the open brood and all the honey and pollen and put them in a split.  Leave ONLY one brood box on the old site and the bees will get crowded up into the ross rounds.  If you have an excluder on, take it off.  The queen has no interest in laying in little spaces like a Ross Round.

If you don't do this, it's doubtful they will fill the Rounds, but if they get crowded enough they might.

I suppose if you don't want to do all of that, you could just take all the honey out of the hive and if that doesn't remove ten frames, then shake off some frames of eggs and/or open brood and just remove them from the hive altogether.  You can give them to another hive if you like and swap them for some honey there.

Basically, if you don't crowd them and if you use an excluder you probably won't get any honey out of them.  Instead they will store the honey in the brood nest and swarm.
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SherryL
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2005, 09:04:13 PM »

Oh, they were crowded all right - so crowded they swarmed!  shocked   About an hour after I posted this thread.

OK, it's a long story, but I managed to recapture the queen (after taking a chainsaw to about 1/3 of a white pine), and get her back into the same hive.  By 6pm the last of the swarm had made it's way back in - much to the amazement of my neighbors and husband and father, who were all certain I had just lost the entire hive.

I don't expect that you would remember Micheal, but this hive WAS a cut-down split I did back on the 16th of May.  So there's only one brood box on there and there was only one RR super on (which are only 4" deep) up until the 27th of May I added the second super.  Added a 3rd super on the 8th of this month, just added the 4th super 2 days ago  when I noticed that not all of the bees seemed to be 'fitting' into the hive at night.  I was concerned they were too crowded.  I could remove that 4th super as they haven't done anything in there - and now that they've swarmed am I to understand that they most likely won't again?  There are a TON of bees in there (also posted the question about estimating population)!  So many, when I look eye-to-eye into the entrance, the house bees are hanging off the bottom of the supers, the foragers have to weave their way thru them just to get in.

Also wondering if I should go ahead and move the 'almost capped' super to the top to give the girls a feeling of more room (even though there really isn't), and not be too worried about how fast they finish it.  

The temps are suppose to be heading into the mid-high 80's this week.  I'm going out of town on Wed. until the following Tues., figured if the first super isn't ready to come off before then, I'd move it to the top anyway to help avoid excess travel staining.

Any other thoughts or suggestions???

sherry
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thegolfpsycho
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« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2005, 10:42:51 PM »

It doesn't sound like there is a heavy enough nectar flow.  With that many foraging age bees, I believe they should be ahead of where they are.  Although they get complacent as they prepare to swarm.  I think it's reasonable to expect them to keep trying to swarm until they are successful.  They'll leave with a virgin if they have to.

When you made your cutdown, did you leave them queenless?
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SherryL
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« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2005, 11:09:11 PM »

No, when I did the split, I left the "old" queen with them and requeened the weaker hive.  

The 'old' queen is about a year old - from a swarm about this same time last year, so she's not even all that old.

I don't have an excluder on (that was asked earlier).  

I'm really wondering if they'll try to swarm again.  Is there really anything I could do to KEEP them from swarming if they were so inclinded?  Also wondering if I should do anything with any swarm cells in there, or just let the queens duke it out themselves.

Right now, I'm thinking I'll go in tomorrow, take a good look at the brood box, remove any 'excess' frames of honey (switch out for brood from the other hive), check for queen cells (although I'm not sure I should remove them), maybe remove the top (4th)  Ross Round super since they don't seem to be using it as of yet (although, what happened to "keep ahead of the bees"?), and move the bottom-most super (the one ready to be capped) to the top.

Michael, you mention
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Basically, if you don't crowd them and if you use an excluder you probably won't get any honey out of them. Instead they will store the honey in the brood nest and swarm.


As I mentioned, I don't have an excluder on, and I  thought  they were crowded too much.  Could you explain what you mean by that?
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thegolfpsycho
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« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2005, 11:40:00 PM »

Leaving the queen in is probably what got you to this point.  A big part of the cutdown to make comb honey is leaving the colony in a condition to store alot of nectar with few mouths to feed.  You could probably split them again if the flow is still on and get your sections finished, and possibly head off the swarm  Maybe recombine them after your sections come off and you add room to store the fall flow.  That would save your store bought queen, pinch the one the cutdown raised.  
One other option might be to add another hive body,  checkerboard a bunch of mty combs or foundation into the brood nest, then put the section super back on top.  If they have made their minds up to go, they'll find a way usually.
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SherryL
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« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2005, 08:17:31 AM »

You say
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If they have made their minds up to go, they'll find a way usually.


Haven't they allready "gone"?   Like I said, they in fact have already split themselves - I just happen to reunite them.  From what I've read about swarms, I've been lead to beleive that once they've swarmed they've swarmed (even if you recombine them with their original hive) and they've gotten it out of their system - the urge is over.  No truth to that?  

It's also my understanding that my manipulations (like splitting, cutting out swarm cells) would be for naught - that if the hive does decide to swarm again, it would whether I like it or not.
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thegolfpsycho
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« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2005, 10:19:22 AM »

Well... look at it this way.  You put the swarm back in the original hive, basically recombined them   right??   So the conditions that led them to swarm have changed how??  They are still crowded up, they probably backfilled the brood nest with nectar in preperation to leave.  All the same conditions that triggered the swarm impulse are still at work.  I don't think the bees say to themselves... hey... we swarmed, so everything is ok now.  I think it's more like  darn... it's really congested here in the brood nest, hot, nowhere for the queen to lay... ROAD TRIP!!!
When I have tried to control swarming by cutting queen cells alone, eventually they get one past me.  I feel you have to change the conditions that make them want to swarm.  By relieving congestion, improving ventilation yada yada yada.
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SherryL
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« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2005, 06:43:29 PM »

OK, here's where it stands as of right now....

Opened the hive at 1:30 this afternoon.  Tons of bees coming and going, just like before the swarm.  TONS of house bees.  I had another deep with me with drawn but empty frames.  Had planned to give them some empty drawn frames if they were honey-bound.

I checked all 11 frames (DE boxes), the back and 2 front (first and last 2) frames were the only two with nectar, the other 8 with brood - about 80% capped, the rest larva, didn't see any eggs, but to tell you the truth, there were so many bees on the frames (covered!) it would have taken me a while to hunt for eggs.  Didn't look for the queen either, but I have no doubt she's back in there or the girls wouldn't have returned yesterday.  They are definitely NOT honey-bound, not alot of laying room for the queen, but that capped brood has to be opening before long.  (saw a couple of bees unhatching as I was checking the frames)  Contemplated removing one capped frame and replacing it with the empty drawn frame but I didn't.  I can go back in tomorrow and do that if you guys think that might help.  Saw 4 supercedure cells - 3 on one frame, 1 on another both near the center of the box, I left all 4 intact.

The first (lowest) Ross Round box is also full of bees, still not capping.  I'm wondering if they robbed that box prior to swarming as it didn't look as full of honey as it did yesterday when I was in there before the swarm.  It's still quite heavy though, so 'don't know'.  The second box up is not as heavy, maybe half as much, the 3rd and 4th boxes no real weight to them at all.  I did leave that 4th box on.

I'm totally confused, if they're 'too crowded' - thus the reason for the swarm -  then why the heck aren't they occupying the top super?  That's why I put it on - to give them more room.

If this were a 'normal' hive (not Ross Rounds supers) I would have left them with 2 deeps and started supering on top of that, but being that the instructions for comb honey supering (according to the books) is to cut to one deep and crowd them into the supers - well, that's what I've done.  Luckily I captured the swarm and returned them, unfortunately I have to leave town on Wed. for 6 days.  If you guys have any ideas as to 'preventive maintenence' that I can do before I leave to keep these girls happy AND keep them working the supers I'd love to hear it.

sherry
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2005, 07:09:53 PM »

>Haven't they allready "gone"? Like I said, they in fact have already split themselves - I just happen to reunite them.

What's the timing between this?  If you put the swarm back in the original hive, then they simply haven't succeeded in swarming yet.  If you let them settle into a new hive and set up housekeeping and THEN combine they might believe they've sucessfully swarmed.

> From what I've read about swarms, I've been lead to beleive that once they've swarmed they've swarmed (even if you recombine them with their original hive) and they've gotten it out of their system - the urge is over. No truth to that?

That would depend on the timing.  Putting them back as a swarm into the original hive will not get that out of their system, it will simply make them think they haven't succeeded at it yet.

Swarming is one of the risks of a cut down.  But part of what helps is if you make sure that both halves of the split have no reason to swarm.  That's why you put all the open brood in the new hive so the old one has no open brood to feed and therefore no brood nest.  I would put the old queen with the split so the old hive is queenless and has to raise a queen.  With no queen and only a tiny bit of open brood (to rear the queen from) they have reason not to swarm.  The new split has no field force so it won't swarm.  Lloyd Spears puts a new queen in the old hive when he does the split to make sure she is less than a month old which makes her less likely to swarm than an older queen.  He actually requeens TWICE.  Once early in the spring and once when he does the cut down.  The ones for the cutdown, therefore, are less than a month old.

Lots of things contribute to swarming, but IMO, a clogged up brood nest is one of the main factors.  I try to keep some empty frames in the brood nest so the bees have comb to draw and the queen has somewhere to lay and it's not all full of honey.  Of course if you leave them queenless they will fill it with honey because they have no brood.  Smiley  But once the new queen is raised a young queen seldom swarms.

Also, with a cut down, you want LOTS of supers on.  The idea isn't to crowd them out of the hive, just to crowd them up into the supers.
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Michael Bush
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SherryL
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« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2005, 08:49:35 PM »

Quote
Lots of things contribute to swarming, but IMO, a clogged up brood nest is one of the main factors. I try to keep some empty frames in the brood nest so the bees have comb to draw and the queen has somewhere to lay and it's not all full of honey. Of course if you leave them queenless they will fill it with honey because they have no brood.  But once the new queen is raised a young queen seldom swarms.


OK, I can definitely go back in and remove a frame of brood - replace with either a fully drawn frame, or just foundation.  I'd prefer to give them the fully drawn as 1) the queen could start laying in there immeadiately and 2) the bees aren't spending their 'drawing foundation' efforts in the brood box but rather in my supers.

I'm going to leave them with the queen they've got.  Just reading some more of Richard Talyor's The New Comb Honey Book, he suggests that a newly hived swarm may very well try to leave again, but he claims that if they stay 2 nights, the likelihood of them staying put is pretty good.  Tonight will be their second night.  I have no idea how 'scientific' that theory is, but it only serves to reason (by human facilties) that the longer they stick around, the greater the chances they'll stick around.

For some reason Michael, the girls are extrememly crowded in the brood box and first super, some in the second super, but almost none in the 3rd and 4th.  Wouldn't 'ya think they'd space themselves out a little better?
I don't have a queen excluder on, other than the fact that they don't have as much moving room with those Ross Round supers as normal frames, I just don't understand why they don't just move on up.

When I go back in tomorrow to give them an empty frame, I'm going to move that bottom super up to the second level, move the second down to the first.  There are fewer bees in the current second super, maybe that will give the bees in the brood box a feeling of a little less congestion.

Quote
Also, with a cut down, you want LOTS of supers on. The idea isn't to crowd them out of the hive, just to crowd them up into the supers.


Well, like I said, I've got 4 on right now.  The RR supers are only 4" deep, plus they have alot less workable foundation in there.   The girls are not utilizing the 4th super really at all (maybe 100 bees in there all total), but I'll leave it since like I said, I'm heading out of town on Wed. and won't be back until the following Tues.  Once I get back, I'll go ahead and put a 5th on - and HOPEFULLY the 'first' super will be capped and ready to come off.

Thanks so much Micheal and 'guys' for your help.  This is only my second season with these bees.  Still getting the hang of it.  The other thing this far north, is that the change from spring weather (40-50's, 30's at night) to summer (70's-80's, 40-50's at night) happens in about a weeks time.  Everything blooms very suddenly and quickly, all of a sudden it's summer!  This year was no exception.  Both of my brand new nucs swarmed about this same time last year - NUCS!  What I really need to do is find some long-time beekeepers from up here and find out if swarms are just part of the territory, or I'm just really not working the nectar flow like I should be, or whatever.  

Thanks again,
sherry
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LloydSpear
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« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2005, 09:15:23 AM »

Sherry, I think you have done everything about right.  Certainly much more 'right' than 'wrong' and I am real impressed based on the length of time you have been a beekeeper!

For the future, I think you put your supers on much too soon to see much activity, but I understand why you did so and there is nothing wrong in what you did.  In a situation such as yours, most will produce a super or two of honey for extraction and not put on the Ross Round supers until about 'now', when the basswood, clover, sumac, etc. is blooming in the northern states.  But, I have produced lots of supers on the dandelion flow so there is nothing wrong in what you did.

Yes, the swarming thing is a potential problem with any system for producing comb honey.  In fact, the reason why many will first produce a super or two of honey for extraction is because bees are much less likely to swarm when they have drawn frames to fill.  In most of the northern states, the 'urge to swarm' is largely over by July 1, so that is also a good time to take the supers for extraction off and replace them with comb honey supers.

Up until about July 15, I check my comb honey hives weekly for swarm preparation by tilting the brood box forward and looking for swarm cells along the bottom bars.  When I see them, I cut them out.  If you do that before they are sealed that WILL prevent them from swarming.  But you might have to do it two consequitive weeks.  What you have done by combining the swarm back with the parent hive may or may not work.  It is no harm.

The number one swarm prevention tool is to use a queen of the CURRENT year.  All my comb honey hives have a 2005 queen in them.  A queen produced in the fall of 2004 is twice as likley to swarm in 2005 compared to a 2005 queen!

You ask why so many of the bees are clustering on the outside when they have plenty of room inside?  The reason is because it is just too darn hot inside.  You need some upper ventilation.  Put pieces of wood, queen cages, small stones, etc. under the two corners of the front of the inner cover.  You want to create at least a 1/2"-3/4" space.  Then pull your outer cover back so the front of it is resting on the propped-up inner cover, exposing the air space you created.  Voila, you will see, the clustering on the outside will disappear!

If they swarm again while you are away, do not despair.  Give them a purchased queen, introducing her slowly.  (Cut out all swarm cells.)  You should still get a very good crop in 2005 as you will have saved about three weeks of brood production compared with letting them raise their own queen.

Best of luck and don't hesitate to contact me if I can help more,
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2005, 11:21:47 AM »

As Lloyd pointed out, a cut down is all about timing.  HERE, (in Southeastern Nebraska) I would do a cut down pretty much the last day of May,  no sooner and not more than a couple of weeks later (which is now).  It's an issue of when the flow is in your area.
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Michael Bush
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SherryL
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« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2005, 01:32:31 PM »

Thank you Lloyd for the reply!  I'm guessing Michael 'shooed' you in here - thank you Michael.

Yesterday I went back in to 'checkerboard' in some empty brood comb, giving the queen more room to lay.  I removed 3 frames of capped brood with 4 queen cells between them and all the bees on the frames.  Put them into a new broodbox with 8 frames of empty drawn comb - put them on a new stand.  

You know Michael, you brought up "honey-bound" and I said, based on what I saw they looked to be more "brood-bound", well, on closer inspection, the cells on the brood frames that were open the girls were infact filling with honey, so even with what few empty cells there where, the queen was very limited.  I think the 3 empty frames will be a welcome site in there.  As of this moment the girls have all stayed put - I suppose they could up and leave at any moment, but so far so good.

As for the 3 frames of brood & bees.  I put an entrance reducer on that hive, opened the top entrance and gave them an internal feeder (don't think they have any foraging bees - right?).  I think they'll be fine once the queen cells hatch.

From here on in, I will definitely plan on requeening in the spring.

Also Lloyd, I didn't mean to say the bees were clustering on the 'outside' of the hive, just clustering in the brood and first super, not 'moving up' as it were.  Not having much experience with bee-havior, I didn't really know if that's normal, or if for some reason (like maybe because I don't have any bait rounds up there) they don't want to go up.  So far no outside 'hanging out'.  I've got a vent box on the top of the hive (all the hives) as it is.  If it gets really hot (occasionally July/Aug) I open the top entrance for them - although I understand that's not desireable with the supers on - is that to avoid them storing pollen in them?

Well, just learning as I go here.  I think when I return from the Boundary Waters that 'first' super should be about ready to come off.  I'll keep my fingers crossed that everyone stays put until then.

Here's another quick question for you Lloyd.  I made myself a 'screened' porter bee escape.  Reading that "New Comb Honey" book, Richard made a comment that bees will use the Porters more readily if it's on a screened board rather than a solid cover type board.  Wondering what method you use to remove the bees when you're ready to remove your supers?

Thanks for your time & expertise!

sherry
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2005, 04:47:10 PM »

>Thank you Lloyd for the reply! I'm guessing Michael 'shooed' you in here - thank you Michael.

Not me.  Maybe he does a search on his name now and then to see what's being said about him.  Smiley

>well, on closer inspection, the cells on the brood frames that were open the girls were infact filling with honey, so even with what few empty cells there where, the queen was very limited.

If they are filling the brood nest with nectar and the queen has no where to lay that's "honey-bound".
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Lesli
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« Reply #16 on: June 21, 2005, 06:24:27 AM »

Quote
that's "honey-bound".


And that cost me a swarm in September! The goldenrod flow got me. So watch out for that darned honey bound thing! Smiley
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