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I think I did the wrong thing Spring 2020

I had to make an fast decision during some bad weather to avoid swarming and watching my bees unable to have a safe harbor to swarm to. So here’s what I did and I’m worried about it. Last Wednesday my bees flew out of the hive like a swarming behavior and balled up on a tree for a while then flew back to the hive and bearded then went back into the hive when it began to rain. So, I have no idea what really happened but felt since I wanted to do splits this season to avoid swarming I had a window of weather opportunity on Friday.

I went into the hive and discovered 2 frames of capped queen cells along the bottom of entire frames. I was trying to start my 4th hive and I also suffered one hive loss this winter much to my concerted efforts towards successful winterizing. So doing my first hive splits was the goal though the weather has been cold and raining off an on.

Since I was trying to head off more bee lossis here is what I did on an ill prepared day. I took 4 frames out of the the bulging with bees hive including the 2 frames of queen cell madness and placed it in a new flow 2 hive along with syrup and pollen patties. I did check to make sure the queen was not on the frames but I could have missed her even with a close inspection. I could have also missed a potential virgin queen. So I’m worried about the hive I am trying to start.

To the hive I robbed from I put fresh foundation on the outsides of the nucleus and placed a syrup feeder on the top of the hive.

So I’m worried about the unintended potential problems I may have caused myself. I don’t know if I did anything right. I need to know the pros and cons of my actions. I also need to start another hive out of 2 of my 3 original hives hoping to successfully start a 4th hive.

Thanks
Martha and her bee madness

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Hi Martha, if I’ve understood you correctly you took 4 frames with bees on them, 2 of which had queen cells, and put them in a new hive with resources. That sounds straightforward and correct, and so potentially you’ve saved your donor hive that did have a swarm in the tree by giving them something to do. Did you leave brood cells in both hives so that the nurse bees stayed in the new hive? If you didn’t then most of those bees will go back to the original hive. It is curious why they were swarming in the first place; we are always learning so I’ll be curious to hear how things develop over the next few weeks. I wouldn’t worry about the queen given your bees have shown they make queen cells without problem. I wouldn’t open the hive for at least 2 weeks so that you avoid interrupting them if the queen hasn’t emerged just yet, or is freshly emerged as sometimes that creates a problem.

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More importantly is that it sounds like you haven’t done anything wrong :smiley:
Not knowing your climate is a bummer but here I am very pro active in preemptive slits to avoid any swarming and I’m constantly monitoring bee numbers, making sure there is ample room in the hive for stores and room for the queen to lay brood. A colony that has work to do is more likely not to swarm than a hive that is bored and just hanging about idle. If I find queen cells then I feel I have failed but all is not lost, they can be used in making another split. All of my queens are marked and I have no issues in terminating them if they are 3 years old.
Cheers

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I left bees on the frames after searching best I could for the current queen as to not transfer her out of the hive. I put syrup on tome and the food stores were low so I added pollen patties too. March is our month were the bees starve to death so I tried everything I could think of.

March is a bad month for bees out here as it’s the starve to death month. Thanks Peter I needed the assurance as it’s a first time for me making a split. I’m doing another today since the hive is cranky and I will have a break in the weather. Cool nights, day long light rains have not been good for the bees getting out and eating. It’s also swarm season right now.

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I’m North of you Martha near Detroit Michigan so I know how the season goes for you, although I get it worse with the bitter cold/snow. We’ve had a relatively mild winter so we have unseasonably warm March and I’m feeding my bees too. I lost 2 of 7 hives over the winter and so I’m holding on trying to make sure the remaining 5 thrive too. I think you’ve done the right things, and now its up to nature.

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Thanks because while book knowledge is one thing and the doing is another.

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I think you should change your post title to “I think I did the right thing :+1:

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well it’s dry out there today and I’m about to go into the other hive and make a split. The bees are bringing in pollen to the new nook or however you spell it. So all the signs are good so far.

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Doing something for the first few times can be daunting and can make you doubt if you are doing it right, take your time and if you don’t do it 100% right the bees will accept your best efforts and ignore any small mistakes. Mine do :smile:
Cheers

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Don’t try second guessing if you’ve done the right move with the bees at the right time Martha…you’ll find you will be continually trying new ideas.

And to keep it simple, just try to get your total hive number going into winter to be double of what you actually need for the next year…if you have good wintering results, then that’s the best problem to have. You can condense your subsequent hive numbers very easily…wintering success becomes a non-issue.

In the photo below is a row of wintered hives from another location…I refer to them as “Ladies in Waiting”. They are surplus wintered hives and they are added to existing hives in this new location that are headed by new queens (inside beehouse)…old queens from the LIW hives are not disposed of but head up 2-3 frame nucs in their new home. I choose a rainy, cooler day to do this.

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Thanks Doug, I have one more hive to split but he weather has been bad and it’s been hard to find the right temperature to do it.

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The honey bee situation in my state is suffering as the continuous rain is preventing swarming and mating flights. My hives are not robust though well fed by me as the early nectar is washed away in the rain. On a different note but in step with the original thread. I did a quick inspection of the hive split and all the cells were hatched or chewed on the side by a killer queen. Since that happened I can’t seem to spot a virgin queen yet. Good luck little nuke!

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If your in constant rain the virgin queen will remain a virgin. That the other queens in cells have been destroyed says the is a queen in the hive so all you need is a break in the weather. You might find if there is already a new queen having emerged that swarming has already happened as is normal.
Keep us updated Martha, cheers

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Lots of rain and chill here too! I also had done a mini split/new nuc to open the brood nest earlier in the month when we had more days above 60 than not, and signs in my colony pointing to early swarm-potential. I’m glad I added extra feed to both - while it seems like many flowers are around three weeks early this year, they’re being met with this more normal March weather now. I haven’t even been able to crack the nuc yet & just hope I also have a virgin queen emerged or about to by now. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be 60F - looks good for a quick peek :eyes: as long as the wind isn’t still blowing!

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