- I am looking for some advice.
I hived a new 3# package of bees on May 1st.
I checked on them again this weekend and saw the queen but no evidence of
laying activity except for a few capped drone cells.
They have drawn out only about 4 frames -- and those only about half the
I have been feeding them sugar syrup.
I live in the Berkshires and it is still gets cold at night -- in the high
forty's or low fifty's. Is this retarding the egg laying, or should I
suspect something is wrong.
My friend who hived a package the same day down in Stamford CT (where it has
been warmer) has capped brood, larvae, eggs. And 7-8 out of 10 of the frames
in his first brood chamber are drawn out.
I have seen the queen all three weekends when I have gone into the hive.
They are bringing in nectar and pollen and have what comb they have drawn out
filled with capped honey, pollen, and uncapped nectar.
Anyone have any thoughts or reassurances.
Bees swarm in reaction. Swarming is the method of reproduction that hive insects employ. There are many triggers.
If a hive is physically overcrowded, they will swarm. If there is an attack on the hive as in adverse insect invasion (hive beetles, mites); damage to the physical hive and others. If the hive has full combs of honey.
As a beekeeper we talk about “Hive Management” but, what we are really discussing is “Swarm Prevention”. No beekeeper wants their hive to swarm. If it does, it takes time for the parent hive to build strength, again when you want them putting away honey for you.
Bees start thinking about swarming in early spring. Those thoughts are the normal ‘springtime, reproduction’ cycle. When you inspect your hives, always look for and take notice of Queen cells. Notice where they are located, whether there is an occupant and how long it has become if there is an occupant. Cups happen often and aren’t always used. A Queen cell at the bottom of a frame is a normal swarm cell. One in the middle of the comb is an emergency cell. Something has happened to or is wrong with the current queen and she needs to be replaces quickly. The nurse bees will simply choose a larvae of the proper age and start feeding her royal jelly.
These differences can tell you a lot about a hive. A swarm cell tells you you WILL have a swarm. No matter how many of those cells you remove or destroy, that hive IS going to swarm. Period. They are hard headed little critters. So, let the swarm. The way YOU want them to swarm. Make a split. Put the frame with the queen cell in the new split box. If you have the old queen in the new box, either she’ll kill the queen in the cell before she hatches or, after hatching & mating, the two queens will fight leaving one the victor. Either way, your hive should be queenright.
The parent hive? Never fear. Where there’s one swarm cell, there are often more. a good strong hive will have intentions to throw several swarms over the course of the spring. So, if you have a queen cell on a different frame, you’re golden. Sit back and rest. The queen in the parent hive will go the same way the split queen will.
If you took the old queen along with the capped queen, you still aren’t leaving your parent hive without a means to survive. So long as there is very young brood, preferably eggs, in the hive, the girls can make a queen from a young larvae by feeding her Royal Jelly and all is well.
Later swarming is generally due to overcrowding. When Honeyflow is on, make certain you keep a good look on the hives if they fill up and there is no place to put more, they may well swarm for larger accommodations. Keeping up with them and adding supers before they absolutely need them (for me, anywhere from half a super on means add another)is crucial.
Catching a swarm isn’t hard, the basics always apply but every capture is slightly different. A box, preferably with comb in it, brood comb is absolutely THE best for this, and they will generally be happy for a new home. the crucial thing is to make sure you have the queen.
I’m sorry, I’ve yammered on and on and it’s late. I pologize3 for the lengthy post but I hope it helps.
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