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Swarm Cells I think


#1

Hello All!

This is my first post and I am a new beek. Here is my situation.

I purchased and successfully installed a package on April 15th of this year to my Classic Flow Hive. I stalled the package into the brood box and have been feed them ever since. The ladies successfully have filled all of the foundation less frames as of the second week of May. I have conducted 2 brood checks and verified a queen. I installed the flow super with the queen excluder 2 weeks ago. The bees have not really been interested in the flow super to this point with minimal activity in the super.

Today I conducted a brood box check. Upon investigation I found several (6-7) Swarm cells on the bottom of the frames. These cells are all capped. There are eggs and larva in the brood box. There is a good population of worker bees including a lot of drones.

Am I in danger of a swarm?
Is this because of lack of space and the bees not utilizing the flow super?
What should I do about this situation?

Thank you all for the help!

Joe


#2

Hi Joe,

Welcome to the Flow forum. Thank you for filling in your profile, so that we can tell that you are in Illinois, USA.

Have you joined a local bee club, got a mentor and read some books about beekeeping? I am asking because the Flow hive is not magic, it is just a different way of extracting honey. Everything else about managing the bees is exactly the same as it would be for traditional beekeepers in your area. I would guess that in your climate zone, beekeepers overwinter their hives on at least two brood boxes, not just one. If that is the case, you should do that with your Flow hive too.

Yes. Time to do a split/artificial swarm. Here are a couple of articles which give great detail on what to do when you find queen cells in your hive. In the second article, I really like the info on page 17 onwards about how to do a modified Snelgrove split, but please read both articles. They have superb information:
http://www.wbka.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/wbka-booklet-english-PDF.pdf
http://www.wbka.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Swarm-Control-Wally-Shaw.pdf

Probably. I really think they need a second brood box before you try to get them into the super, though.

I am sure you will get more advice, but what I would do first is read the articles above. Consider a split very soon - you may have to buy or borrow extra equipment very soon. If you don’t, you may lose more than half of your colony in the next few days. Destroying the queen cells will not prevent this - you need to split and recombine later if you want to stay at one hive.

I would take off the Flow super and put on a second brood box with frames in it. Let them fill that before putting the super back on. Only put the Flow super on when all of the following rules are true:

  1. Every frame is mostly filled with fully drawn comb, and
  2. The comb is 80% full of brood, honey or pollen, and
  3. Every frame is well-covered with bees.

The reason is that you need enough bees to defend (from SHB, wasps and wax moths) and use the new space. When the above three items are all true, you have enough bees. :wink:

To get the bees to use the Flow super more readily, there are a few tricks. I took 1-2cm blobs of burr comb from an inspection on my hive tool, and just pressed and smeared sideways gently onto the frame faces at about 10cm intervals. You don’t need to cover the whole frame, just put enough on to make it smell like the hive. :wink: Each frame face ended up with about 12 blobs of smushed wax pressed into it. The bees cleaned it all up within a day or two. You can also paint melted bees wax onto the frames, and there are several other tricks too, which you can search for using the magnifying glass tool at the upper right of the forum window.


#3

I would find the queen and move her plus a frame of food and a frame or two of brood/stores and place them in a nuc box as far away from the mother hive as possible. Most times, for me, this works well and fools the bees in to thinking they’ve swarmed.
If it was in my apiary, I would add a second brood box to the mother hive, feed, and when that is full, add a third.


#4

I would say that you are probably not going to stop the colony from swarming unless you do a split. Grab a frame that has some pollen and nectar and then another that has some brood but no swarm cells. Move those and the current queen into another box. A NUC box would be best. It definitely sounds like the original colony is ready for a second brood box. I would put a second box and frames on it and let it be. If all of those cells are sealed in a little over a week you should have a queen hatching and then another week after hopefully returned from her mating flight.

Its amazing sometimes how quickly they can fill up a box with resources. I got a five frame NUC in the second week of May and I added the second brood box last weekend. If the conditions are right they can fill frames up fast.


#5

Thank you everyone for the advice. I live quite remote and I don’t think I will be able to get the supplies quick enough to be able to perform a quick split. What happens if they swarm and I don’t catch it? I lose my current queen and quite a bit of my colony correct? Will life go on once a new queen hatches and she gets fertilized? It is a possiblity of what could happen unless anyone has some quick and dirty ideas. I don’t have anyone to borrow supplies from. I wish I would have caught this. It seemed to escalate quickly!


#6

Joe,

Wooooo please ! Did you say you got a Nuc mid-April !?! Do you still have that cardboard five frame Nuc box in your procession ??? That’s all you’d need for a temperary hive … I catch n keep Swarms in those all the time.

If not … Don’t sweat the small ! Do you fave those extra five frames you pulled out of your Flowbrood box ?! If so do you have a chops aw, miter saw, tables aw or even a handsaw ?! And some boards ?! Get on the Internet n get a plan for a frame Nuc hive box. It doesn’t have to be great … Just hold bees.

Then get real extra hive ordered n heading you way. Where there’s a need there’s a way. You can do it good enough until the real hive gets here.

Good luck n get Ta work … We only learn as we go … I’ve made my share of boo boos n mistakes … My first hives n Nucs box I built were great but worked.

Take care n happy beekeeping bro.

Gerald


#7

OP says “package” in mid april.


#8

I received a box of package bees not a nuc.

Upon further reflection and innspection I noted a few things.

The number of bees seems to have declined, hence why the previous activity in the flow super has ceased. It has been approximately 4-5 days since the decline I believe.
I was unable to locate my installed queen today.
I did notice larva but not eggs (it was windy and difficult to deal positive identification of eggs)

After reading the articles referenced above, I believe the primary swarm has already occurred.

That being said, the articles reference eliminating queen cells. I have read other posts and videos that seem to contradict this. Do I look for emerged cells at this point? Should I attempt to cut open the queen cells and release virgins? I really have no way to know for sure how long ago the prime swarm happened.

Thanks for all the advice. I did order a nuc and another brood box today. I don’t want to get caught like this again

Joe


#9

My advice: Never remove queen cells. Once destroyed, you can’t get them back.


#10

Joe,

Always great idea to have some extra. I run 6 larger sized 8 n 10 frame Hives. I’ve got enough for double deeps on each of those n have enough shallows to go up 3 on my 10 frame hive n two extras on the 8 frame. I
Have two Flow-supers as well …

I also have four complete 5 frame deep wood Nuc set up that I can go up four supers each if needed … That’s a lot but I try never to get caught short. I also have a couple of bundles of u assembled deep n shallow frames I can put together if needed. I didn’t get all this at once …, each winter I order a few more thing and assemble them in my small wood shop. I never get bored during our long wet Puget Sound winters.

I’ve even been able to bail a couple guys out that came up short in a busy season emergency…
Two old mottos. 1) always be prepared ! 2) Never get caught with you pants down ! Bee on the Buns is never G👀d !

Cheers,
Gerald.


#11

Yes you do
Worker bees are capped st 8 days so if you have open brood your queen left less than a week ago. Queen cells are capped for 7/8 days before queens emerge. If you go in now to reduce your queen cells to one you are just in time