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BahamaMama

Artificial swarm?

Looks like we need to be getting ready.... I had a look at the hive at lunch time today as it is a glorious, warm, sunny day in Surrey.

I found my Queen who has been busy and has moved over several frames from where we last saw her. Our bees are normally very docile and tolerant but today they were more antsy. Full inspection revealed lots of sealed brood, plenty of larvae, large and small and several charged queen cells being drawn out.

There is plenty of space for the Queen to lay but I just have the impression they are getting ready to pack their bags but I think I have a day or two.

So - we have had our bees for almost a year, so we are still very much beginners, based on the above, would you do an artifical swarm (we have a nuc that could be used)? And how long have I got?
joanne

You have until the queen cells have been sealed, however the little monsters are very good at hiding them so the likelihood missing of one of them is quite large therefore I'd get an artificial swarm done ASAP personally.

Is the Queen clipped?
BahamaMama

Thanks Jo. I thought that might be the case. I was looking for Q cells but the frames were so covered in bees that I may have missed a capped one, although the ones (plural!) that I did see were still open.

Q is not clipped.

Himself thinks we can just tear down the Q cells but I think they will swarm anyway. By doing the artificial swarm, at least we know where they are.

Any other ideas of how to approach this? It seems quite early for swarming (according to the books) but the man at Thornes Supplies said it would be an early swarming year. Has anyone else seen any signs yet? or am I looking for something that is not there?
joanne

Thanks Jo. I thought that might be the case. I was looking for Q cells but the frames were so covered in bees that I may have missed a capped one, although the ones (plural!) that I did see were still open.

Q is not clipped.

Himself thinks we can just tear down the Q cells but I think they will swarm anyway. By doing the artificial swarm, at least we know where they are.

Any other ideas of how to approach this? It seems quite early for swarming (according to the books) but the man at Thornes Supplies said it would be an early swarming year. Has anyone else seen any signs yet? or am I looking for something that is not there?


You can tear down the Queen cells but if there are lots of bee's and they feel as though it's getting full even if you don't they'll just keep building them and as I mentioned before the likelihood of missing one is high.

If you've got enough kit to move half to another hive I'd do so as a Queen in full lay will quickly fill a nuc and you'll have the same problem as before. It's fairly easy to do an artificial swarm although there are lots of methods.

Have a read through of this before going ahead especially if you've never done it before just to remind yourself. http://www.bbka.org.uk/files/library/swarm_control-l003_1342859999.pdf

I've had swarms this early before, hopefully sign of a very good year for bees Smile
BahamaMama

I have just finished my theory course at Bee School and I have been reading my books and notes and spending time on YouTube for just this eventuality. I think I 'get it' even though I have not actually done it yet. The nuc will just be a temporary measure to buy us some time to get hive two up and running.

and that will be it, no more. at all. really.
Mistress Rose

If you belong to a beekeeping association, you should be able to get an experienced beekeeper to come and mentor you so you have someone there for moral support and an extra pair of hands if necessary.
Cathryn

I have started to worry about this. Smile It's been too cold to go into my bees as yet but they are busy and one of the beekeeper's at the meeting yesterday has already had a swarm. He caught it as he was opening up the hive! I get the theory of artificial swarming but also have never done it. I might yell for help or I might try the guerilla approach of my friend who just removed several frames into a nuc box, topped it up with sugar and just let them get on with it. It worked.

I might also leave them on a brood and a half and keep my fingers crossed.
Mistress Rose

The main thing is to let them have enough room. You could run them on brood and a half or you could artificially swarm them. Could you not get one of the more experienced members to help you? Nobody expects a beekeeper to know everything in their first couple of years, so you won't look silly asking for help.
Lorrainelovesplants

looking at this post with interest. Mine too are 'in the mood', and I have 2 queen cups in the box.
My plan is to move half the bees into one box with some brood and stores (and the queen) (to make them think they have done the move)and leave both queen cups in the original box
Cathryn

I've gone for the guerilla approach. I have no problem asking for help but all my potential helpers were busy today.

I've moved brood and food on four super frames into a nuc box and filled it up with proper brood frames.

There was the usual mess in the hive as I hadn't had a chance to get the queen excluder on so there was brood in the super and what I thought was a couple of queen cells. They were damaged when I took the frames out to check. Rolling Eyes Wish they'd read the books and kept it all tidy in there. Wish I could remember what I'd read in the books when I actually get into the hives. I've filled up the national and put the queen excluder on the top of a brood and a half and added a super on top.

The topbar was full to overflowing as well. I only looked at a couple of frames, I hate damaging the comb and it always gets torn when I open this hive. I've just added some bars on the end.

It's early enough in the season for me to correct any of this if it's a problem. Anyway, we'll just have to see how it all goes.

I'm loving it! Smile
Mistress Rose

Hope it has gone well Cathryn. That is one reason I am not too keen on top bar hives; it is so easy to damage the comb. The 'box' with frame type hives are unnatural to some extent but the bees seem happy enough with them. they are very adaptable and don't care if it is a hollow tree, dustbin or proper beehive they set up home in.
Cathryn

How have you got on with yours BahamaM?

One thing I discovered early on is the tendency to run out of kit. Last year even the suppliers did. I am already a bit short so I'm ordering more today. This hobby is almost as expensive as keeping horses.
wellington womble

What do you do with all the honey? I don't use much, and still have about 15lb from mums hives. I love the idea of bees, but I really don't have any use for the honey (wax is different. It's practically perfume in my book)
BahamaMama

Back in again after locking myself out of Downsizer Neutral

We went back in for a second opinion after my solo inspection and initial post and it looked completely different. The bees were back to their normal docile selves and all looked good so we have left them as they are for the time being but we will be watching closely.

It was a very useful exercise as we were forced to work through what we would do, how and where, the equipment we would need etc.

We have had to go and buy a ton more stuff (ouch!) as we very quickly realised that we would not manage for more than a couple of days with what we have. We now have two hives (one in a thousand pieces on the dining room table) and plenty of frames, so when it is all assembled we should be prepared. The forecast for the weekend is not great down my way so that will be good for the wood working projects.

I am still not clear what you do at times like this when the bees are starting to look like they are thinking of swarming and the weather is cool and damp. Do you still inspect? I have heard tales of other keepers who have lost their bees because they did not want to do the wrong thing by inspecting in poor weather.
Cathryn

What do you do with all the honey? I don't use much, and still have about 15lb from mums hives. I love the idea of bees, but I really don't have any use for the honey (wax is different. It's practically perfume in my book)


Nor me. I still have a few jars left and I only had eight. But one friend made 100 last year, another 400. They both eat loads as well. Another five years like that and they might break even. Smile
Cathryn

Back in again after locking myself out of Downsizer Neutral

We went back in for a second opinion after my solo inspection and initial post and it looked completely different. The bees were back to their normal docile selves and all looked good so we have left them as they are for the time being but we will be watching closely.

It was a very useful exercise as we were forced to work through what we would do, how and where, the equipment we would need etc.

We have had to go and buy a ton more stuff (ouch!) as we very quickly realised that we would not manage for more than a couple of days with what we have. We now have two hives (one in a thousand pieces on the dining room table) and plenty of frames, so when it is all assembled we should be prepared. The forecast for the weekend is not great down my way so that will be good for the wood working projects.

I am still not clear what you do at times like this when the bees are starting to look like they are thinking of swarming and the weather is cool and damp. Do you still inspect? I have heard tales of other keepers who have lost their bees because they did not want to do the wrong thing by inspecting in poor weather.

I think this is great. And do I follow it?! Rolling Eyes It needs to be open next to the hive along with every bit of equipment you might need at any time!

http://www.wbka.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Swarm-Control-Wally-Shaw.pdf
Cathryn

And this was his talk which he has given to my Association as well. It's kind of the shortened version.

http://bridgendbeekeepers.co.uk/Documents/Uploaded/78-Document-Pre-emptive-swarm-control----Wally-Shaw-pdf.pdf
BahamaMama

Brilliant - printing and laminating!

I am just starting the beekeeper's basic assessment course so any notes or guidance is wonderful. Thank you for that.
Tavascarow

And this was his talk which he has given to my Association as well. It's kind of the shortened version.

http://bridgendbeekeepers.co.uk/Documents/Uploaded/78-Document-Pre-emptive-swarm-control----Wally-Shaw-pdf.pdf
Useful.

How have you got on with yours BahamaM?

One thing I discovered early on is the tendency to run out of kit. Last year even the suppliers did. I am already a bit short so I'm ordering more today. This hobby is almost as expensive as keeping horses.
Back in again after locking myself out of Downsizer Neutral

We went back in for a second opinion after my solo inspection and initial post and it looked completely different. The bees were back to their normal docile selves and all looked good so we have left them as they are for the time being but we will be watching closely.

It was a very useful exercise as we were forced to work through what we would do, how and where, the equipment we would need etc.

We have had to go and buy a ton more stuff (ouch!) as we very quickly realised that we would not manage for more than a couple of days with what we have. We now have two hives (one in a thousand pieces on the dining room table) and plenty of frames, so when it is all assembled we should be prepared. The forecast for the weekend is not great down my way so that will be good for the wood working projects.

I am still not clear what you do at times like this when the bees are starting to look like they are thinking of swarming and the weather is cool and damp. Do you still inspect? I have heard tales of other keepers who have lost their bees because they did not want to do the wrong thing by inspecting in poor weather.
Whilst you're waiting read At the Hive Entrance by H Storch. There are some clear signs to tell when swarming is imminent.
With regards to cost of equipment you can build a top bar hive for less than the cost of eleven brood frames & foundation. All the bees need is an empty weatherproof box to be happy. It needs to be a little more elaborate for us to manage, but does not need to be anywhere near as complicated (& expensive) as conventional framed hives. Despite people calling it modern beekeeping it's a throwback from Victorian times, when man saw nature as something to overlord & bend to his will. Be more natural & work with your bees is the way forward IMHO.
Mistress Rose

It is useful to read beekeeping books, but even more use to look at hives with experienced beekeepers. Remember that the bees don't read the books, and if they do, they do the opposite on purpose sometimes just to confuse the beekeeper. Very Happy

The top bar hive actually comes from even further back than you say Tavascarow. I undertand that pottery ones have been found in ancient Mediteranean cultures, so not really a British hive. In the UK, skeps seem to have been favoured, but they meant killing the bees to remove the honey, although some people did use small extra bits on the top where the bees tended to store the honey, and that could easily be removed without killing the whole colony. There was also the technique of walking the bees out of one skep into another, but as that involved two skeps, 1 man, 2 women tho drum the old hive for about an hour and a large sheet, I think that was only used to take off rape honey in the summer. From the 17th century some richer beekeepers used 'cabinet makers hives' which were boxes with compartments, occasionally with part glazed so you could see the bees. I did a lot of research on beekeeping history in the UK a few years ago.
Lorrainelovesplants

well, due to the crap weather, my queen cups have remained cups. There are a couple more of them, and some droon brood, but not enough, so Ill need to wait for the weather to improve.
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