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Author Topic: Drones and swarming  (Read 596 times)
ziffabeek
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« on: March 14, 2013, 09:55:26 AM »

I tried to do a search but couldn't find what I wanted.

My question is Are lots of drones an indication of pre-swarming?  Or how is drone population related to swarming?

The reason I ask is i'm seeing lots of advice here on the forums to wait to split until drones are flying.  I was considering doing a split this last weekend, but our Atlanta temps are (as usual) all over the place and we had several freezing nights this week, so I decided to wait. (I'm also vacilating between splitting and trying to get more honey production this year.  : / )  In any case, when I got into them this weekend I saw lots of bees, a considerable amount of drone brood, LOTS of drones, but no queen cells.  Granted, I didn't dig all the way through them but did look at most of the upper frames and peered down to the next box.  I added a super on top of each of my hives and decided to check them again this weekend and see what they are doing. 

So I guess I'm trying to decide if the drones are telling me to go ahead and do the split now because they are going to swarm, or if the drones are just normal spring activity and I can wait/watch and give more space to build stronger hives and get more honey.   

Thanks for any insight.

love,
ziffa
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2013, 10:02:34 AM »

>My question is Are lots of drones an indication of pre-swarming? 

They are an indication that the bees are preparing for that possibility.  In other words, that it is the right time of year.  It does not necessarily mean they are going to swarm.
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Michael Bush
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2013, 12:15:23 PM »

Usually hive strength and stores are a better indication. If you are more interested in honey, checker board your hives if they are strong. Take every other brood frame from the bottom box and move them up and into the next box above it and replace them with either drawn (preferably) or foundation. This will seriously reduce the swarm tendencies and build your hive very quickly if you have a good queen. This is a good reason for using all of the same size boxes. I am still working to get to all mediums.
Jim
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bailey
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« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2013, 01:21:34 PM »

Hey ziff. 
If you have drones flying and want to split then go for it now. 
If you want both a split and honey production this spring then make one or two nucs from your strong hives to prevent swarming.  Then just raise the small splits into hives.  Best of all worlds.
Bailey
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capt44
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« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2013, 04:07:25 PM »

During the hive inspections last week(by the bee inspector) we noticed alot of drone brood and capped drone cells.
We uncapped a few drone cells and inspected the larva for varroa mites. None so far.
We seen alot of capped off worker cells also.
We noticed a few drones in the hive that had emerged.
We seen no quees cells.
Today however I noticed the hives really working hard with alot of bees infront of the hives flying around.
I figure to split the hives next week and check for queen cells.
These gals are busy'ern a cat in a sand box today.
Temperature here in central Arkansas is 67F today and suppose to be in the high 70's this weekend.
I think spring has finally sprung.
I'm also hanging swarm traps in all my beeyards and where I caught swarms last year.
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Richard Vardaman (capt44)
ziffabeek
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« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2013, 04:36:43 PM »

Thanks all!

Bailey - I like that idea.  Can you mix frames from different hives?  is one frame of each resource (eggs, honey, pollen) enough to start the nuc or do I need more? 

Can I checkerboard and use the frames I pull in the nuc?

Hmmm,  now you got me thinking!

love,
ziffa
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hardwood
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« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2013, 06:14:26 PM »

This time of year I make my splits with 2 frames of brood and a frame of honey. Make sure one brood frame has eggs if you want them to make their own queen and one of emerging bees to boost their numbers quickly. The other two frame can be drawn or foundation...whatever you have. Ones with drawn comb will take off faster but need to be watched closer for over crowding. The nucs I made this way just three weeks ago (with grafted queen cells are bursting and ready for sale or to move to 10 frames. Later in the summer with good nectar you can make weaker splits with just one frame of brood.

Scott
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bailey
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« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2013, 07:10:29 PM »

Yes ziff.  Mix and match works well.  Just smoke them so there is less fighting.  3 frames,  1 from3 separate hives will be enough to do the trick.
And yes checker boarding and using those frames will work very well.  When I pull frames for nucs empty starter strips go in place of the pulled frames.
Bailey
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most often i find my greatest source of stress to be OPS  ( other peoples stupidity )

It is better to keep ones mouth shut and be thought of as a fool than to open ones mouth and in so doing remove all doubt.
Beeboy01
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« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2013, 08:24:28 PM »

When you mix and match brood frames from different hives most of the worker bees will return to the main hive. The house bees will get along just fine and take care of the brood like they are supposed to. Spotting a lot of drones in a hive can mean that the hive is getting ready to swarm but until you spot queen cells you can't know for sure.
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RHBee
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« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2013, 07:38:39 AM »

My question is Are lots of drones an indication of pre-swarming?  Or how is drone population related to swarming?

So I guess I'm trying to decide if the drones are telling me to go ahead and do the split now because they are going to swarm, or if the drones are just normal spring activity and I can wait/watch and give more space to build stronger hives and get more honey.   

Thanks for any insight.

love,
ziffa

Thanks ziffa,
I didn't think to ask the question from that angle. One more piece of the puzzle. I have most of my equipment ready to go. I'm going to make an inspection of my 4 larger hives today. I wanted to do an equal split but can go with nucs if needed.
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Later,
Ray
sterling
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« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2013, 11:50:55 AM »

I tried to do a search but couldn't find what I wanted.

My question is Are lots of drones an indication of pre-swarming?  Or how is drone population related to swarming?

The reason I ask is i'm seeing lots of advice here on the forums to wait to split until drones are flying.  I was considering doing a split this last weekend, but our Atlanta temps are (as usual) all over the place and we had several freezing nights this week, so I decided to wait. (I'm also vacilating between splitting and trying to get more honey production this year.  : / )  In any case, when I got into them this weekend I saw lots of bees, a considerable amount of drone brood, LOTS of drones, but no queen cells.  Granted, I didn't dig all the way through them but did look at most of the upper frames and peered down to the next box.  I added a super on top of each of my hives and decided to check them again this weekend and see what they are doing. 

So I guess I'm trying to decide if the drones are telling me to go ahead and do the split now because they are going to swarm, or if the drones are just normal spring activity and I can wait/watch and give more space to build stronger hives and get more honey.   

Thanks for any insight.

love,
ziffa

If you are want to make a honey crop and stop a swarm you may consider taking your original queen out with a couple frames of brood and start a nuc and let the big colony make the queen and they will make honey while they are making the queen. But let them build up as much as you can or until you see swarm cells before making the nuc..
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