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Should I add another brood box, or another super? Apparent pre-swarm behaviour


#1

Hello all. This spring/summer is my first honey flow (Sydney, Australia) and I need an opinion on what should be my next step. Our hive is absolutely booming, to the point that I’m not sure how to handle it!

After a strong start to the spring, I added a second brood box around four weeks ago as I noticed a lot of what I assumed was pre-swarm behaviour (bees massing outside of the hive, not bearding/fanning as it was not a warm day). They quickly moved into the new brood box, and the Flow frames of the super were soon all full.

I have subsequently harvested a number of frames, and they seem to be replenished within a few days each time. My issue now is that I seem to be running out of room once again, and I have noticed large numbers of bees massing outside in the past few days!

I am worried about the hive becoming honey bound, but the new honey in the Flow frames is not yet ripe (it seems to be very runny) so I am reluctant to keep harvesting it. To complicate things, one of the frames I harvested yesterday showed evidence of a laying worker (I think) as there was one larvae that emerged when I harvested.

What would you all advise? To clarify the current hive configuration - I now have two full-depth brood boxes and and super with six Flow frames. Thanks so much in advance.


#2

Hi Chris,
It sounds like you need to do a split or two. Have a read around on the internet and this forum on making splits. There is good information right here but I recommend reading the ‘Honeybee Suite’ website by Rusty Burlew as she discusses many types of splits. Also there’s a PDF by Wally Shaw (Welsh Beekeepers Association) called ‘An Apiary Guide to Swarm Control’ which may be helpful. Now what you do with the splits is a whole 'nother thing. I had just one hive in August and have four now! Planning to sell a couple of nucs if they build up well. I only have single brood boxes though. Sounds like you have a ton of bees. Good luck!


#3

I agree. The easiest way to manage this is to take out two or three frames of brood with plenty of attached bees (but not the queen), plus another shake, a frame of honey and a frame of pollen. Put it all in to a nuc box and either buy a queen, a queen cell, or let them produce their own as an emergency response. A walk away split.

Now you can put in five foundation frames in the parent hive giving them heaps of room.

Good luck!


#4

I agree, split and sell a nucleus or two, or gain some new hives for yourself. :wink:


#5

Yes. Split split.
Sounds a stonking good colony


#6

Chris,

Me too ! I’m for the split as well ! Nice issue to have … How many hive do you have n how many do you want ?! If possible I’d keep at least 2 if not three colonies so you have plenty of resources when things are so robust n going well.

Does sound like you’re off to a great start anyway. You have a great problem … I love :heart:️ it when I’m presented with too many bees in the BOX/HIVE !

Good luck n keep on trucking down there. Winterizing up here near Seattle,

Gerald


#7

Great! Thank you so much for all the advice guys, as per usual. Sounds like it’s time to split! I’ll call my local bee supplies store this morning to line up what I need.

Thanks again!


#8

Contrary to everyone else here, I would not rush to split until you have performed a thorough inspection of the brood box. You mentioned that you added a second brood box only 4 weeks ago, it is highly unlikely that they would have drawn and filled those 8 new frames in this time. Have you checked both brood boxes since then? The bees maybe treating one of the boxes as a honey super, there is nothing wrong with that but you might be better placed to remove the honey frames to allow the queen more room to lay. In Sydney we are in the midst of a nectar flow depending on where you live, the bees have been preparing for this for a couple of months, by performing a split you will effectively be reducing their colony strength and achieve nothing. My hives are all going strong on single brood boxes which are manipulated every 3 weeks depending on their numbers. As for brood in the Flow frames, you will need to lift the frames to see what is going on. Make sure you use a good quality queen excluder, the metal ones with the round bars are the best. If you have a good queen then there is next to no chance you have a laying worker so check for gaps… better to just replace the excluder. Also check for queen cells, because if you do find them then your hive will inevitably swarm and a split will help prevent this as long as take the old queen and leave 2 or 3 good sized queen cells. Hope this helps and apologies to anyone I upset for going against the grain here.


#9

Just to throw my 2 bobs worth in. I too had a very strong hive in Sydney this being my first Spring. I was also worried about swarming, and seeing lots of bearding outside the hive. This was extreme at times where the entire hive was covered in bees. I decided to add a honey super as I didn’t really want a 2nd hive at this point. This seems to be going well. I am just harvesting the flow frames as soon as they are full and leaving the under super for the moment which the bees are filling nicely. I check the Flow frames before harvesting to make sure they are completely or at least 80% capped as at times, they may appear full in the observation window but on inspection, sometimes they are only partially capped.
Anyway, things are going well for now. Lots of honey and no more extreme bearding. So fingers crossed. PS. Obviously I will remove the 2nd Super for Winter and harvest the honeycomb.


#10

Keeping “fingers crossed” isn’t the ideal strategy with beekeeping.
It’s far better to accommodate a second colony than to let a strong colony swarm. You could lose that swarm & possibly upset some neighbors (if that applies) in the process.