Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Queen Swarm Cells

My first mistake this spring was delaying a full hive inspection.  The weather had been cold and crappy--rain and more rain.  That's what made it so easy to put it off.  And I still had the winter wraps on.

My full time job kind of interferes too.  I'm sure you can relate.  The sun ALWAYS comes out during the week when I'm working and hides on weekends when I'm free.

I took my hive wraps off a couple weeks ago when the weather finally warmed up.  I did remove the entrance reducers the week prior so the bees could clean the hive easier and to reduce traffic congestion.

Finally we had a sunny/overcast day with temperatures around 26 degrees Celsius.  Thundershowers were expected in the afternoon so I hadn't planned on doing hive inspections that day.

Once at the bee yard, the sun was out and I figured I could at least inspect one hive before it rained.

[photo at left of a swarm cell - it's placed at the bottom of the frame and it points downward].
Hive #4 was loaded with honey.  There were capped cells in the middle frames and I found two queen cells, long but not yet capped.  They were at the bottom of the fourth frame--swarm cells.  Crap.  The hive was bursting with bees and was obviously feeling overcrowded.  The result is the bees planned to swarm.

It is actually a sign of a healthy hive so I shouldn't complain.

I left the cells as is.  I hadn't seen a queen yet and didn't want to be too hasty to crush them.

Besides, destroying queen cells doesn't always stop the bees from deciding to swarm.  I had given them a super a couple days prior so they had more room.

I inspected Hive #1.  It too was heavy, full of honey (where did the bees get all this honey, especially since the spring had been so cold and rainy???).  This hive was concerning.  I saw very few capped brood, the cappings were spotty.  I didn't see any larvae either.  It was starting to cloud over and the bees were especially mad (possibly a sign of queenlessness) and unlike their usual calm behaviour.  The weather can make them cranky too.  I closed up so I didn't get through the two medium boxes to check them for eggs or brood.

A further inspection is certainly needed.

I also need to accept the inevitable.  At least one hive needs to be split or they'll swarm.

All of a sudden it's time to inventory what equipment I have on hand.... I wasn't prepared for this.  I thought this year would be like last year:  Add supers continually and the bees will stay = no swarming.

They got ahead of me this spring.  The cold weather hadn't slowed them down as much as I thought it would.

Resourceful little things.  They're still outsmarting me.


Brent said...

that queen cell is open. You sure you have time to split?

I had a similar situation and mine swarmed, but I got the bees back. I think it was a queenless swarm.

Beekeeper Barbara said...

Hi Brent. Yes I was able to do the split last week. They even had a couple capped queen cells too. I was lucky. I think it was our rainy/thunderstormy/cold weather that kept them from leaving sooner.

I found the old queen (marked) and put her in the split hive, leaving the queen cells in the old hive.

Knatolee said...

I have been having trouble getting into my hives with all this wet weather but managed to do splits on a nice day three weeks ago. But it has been a frustrating sprong. YOur bees do look happy though.

Beekeeper Barbara said...

Knatolee - You're right it's been wet. Then when we have the one good day that's when I pester them with an inspection.