This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Swarming Time Is Now

Swarm Cell

Active swarm cell, I stopped this hive from swarming by getting to this before it was capped.

I have been getting calls for queens. The caller always says no eggs, no queen.
I ask the question, Did your bees swarm?
Caller: There is a lot of bees in there I am sure they have not swarmed.
Me: Did you see any queen cells?
Caller: Are those the long things hanging from the bottom of the frames? I cut them off, they are only on the bottom, right.
Me: They can be anywhere, but usually on the bottom bars. If they were capped the bees have almost for sure have swarmed already.
Caller: I only looked on the bottom.
Me: Your bees probably swarmed. This is what I do. I take a frame with eggs and very small larvae from another hive. ( This is why it is important to have two hives. ) Shake the bees off it and put it in the queenless hive. After 4 days check the frame for queen cells. If there is none being produced I think it will be safe to assume that there is a queen in there. It has hatched from a swarm cell and she should be laying in about two weeks.
Caller: I will try this, Thanks Jim.
This type of call is very common. The swarming time can drive a person crazy. If I look for queen cells by pulling all the frames I may accidentally kill the queen that's in the hive.
If I do nothing I end up looking up in a tree at the huge swarm that is 40 feet in the air.
My compromise that I do is this. I open the hive, smoke the top of the hive driving the bees down. Looking down as far as I can see, I squash any thing resembling a queen cell.
I then tip the box back and do the same thing. The frames don't fall out because they are glued down with propolis. I check all the boxes this way.
I will also look for any cells hanging off the sides of frames. These could be supercedure cells and bear further investigation.
Swarming behavior will continue until the major nectar flow begins. The heat, crowded conditions and a queen more than one year old all contribute to swarming.