We purchased a thriving established colony, the owner said they had swarmed once before already. The hive was clearly jam-packed, traffic jam at entrance, boiling over with bees. Two deep boxes, upper deep was nearly all honey (possibly honey-bound hive?).
We brought the hive home and then, as per our agreement with previous owner, gave him back ALL the frames. In two stages:
The day after the hive was installed, we shook the bees off upper deep frames, replaced them with foundationless frames. (Because I’ve just finished Michael Bush’s book and am now thoroughly convinced.)
One week later, we did the same with the lower deep.
We figured this would end up like an installed package, and since the colony was so very numerous, they wouldn’t have any trouble building back up. Here’s the thing: when we removed the frames, we saw about 6-10 capped queen cells at the bottom, so presumably swarm cells. We didn’t see a queen, but then we’ve never been able to spot the queen on any inspection of our other hive. We did see eggs.
From what I understand, this means that the swarm has already departed? Yet the colony seems so very numerous!
The colony is now in two boxes, one deep, one medium, full of empty foundationless frames. There’s nothing but one full frame of honey. Will this be enough to keep them from swarming again?
I’ve been observing odd clustering around the entrance, and around the hive cover. This has been consistent day after day. I understand that some ‘bearding’ is natural, but the weather is actually cool, and this seems like odd clustering, they’re kinda forming bee bridges over the entrance. Traffic jam? Swarm preparations? Bees reducing the entrance because their previous hive had a very small entrance, or because they’re building a whole new hive?
Would love to hear your opinions!!