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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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bee Math: Rainy Weather + Cool Temperatures=Swarming

These are supercedure cells or emergency queen cells. They are usually on the side of a frame. Supercedure happens if the queen dies and the bees will scramble to try to make a new queen. 

Swarm cell. On the bottom of a frame.
The current cool and rainy weather has the bees locked in their hives. While they are locked in, the hive is still moving forward. The queen is laying and new bees are emerging.
 The cool weather will make the overwintered hive feel overcrowded. This will give the hive a reason to make swarm cells. A inspection for swarm cells should be done on a seven to 10 day schedule on strong colonies.
 Normally when swarm cells are capped, the bees will swarm. Most of the field bees will leave with the old queen. If you look in a hive that has swarmed, you will see no eggs and older larvae and capped brood. You can remove the swarm cells and install a new queen.
 If you come across a swarm cell that is open on the bottom with no larvae inside, may mean that a virgin queen has emerged. Or if you see these swarm symptoms and you are not sure if they swarmed or you are queenless. This is when having a second hive helps. Take a frame of eggs from the queenrite colony and put it in the queenless colony. Check it after five days. If the bees are making queen cells off the new brood, you could safely say you are queenless and put in a new queen. If the bees are not making queen cells you may have a queen in the hive and she has not started to lay yet.
 In a hive with a virgin queen, new bees will be getting old enough to forage. The foraging worker bees will bring in nectar and can fill the hive up with honey while the bees are waiting for the queen to start to lay eggs. This can make a hive honey bound, leaving no place for the queen to lay. If this happens, the frames need to be spun out and emptied of the honey and the empty frames given back to the hive. The honey may be too high of a water content to be called Grade A honey, but it can be fed back to the bees.
 Where are swarm cells?
Swarm cells can be anywhere. They are usually on the bottom of the frames. But the bees will put them on burr comb or funky comb. I have seen swarm cells hanging off the top bar. Sometimes the swarm cells are on bridge comb that spans between boxes. When the boxes are broken apart, sometimes the swarm cell is destroyed and the beekeepers never notices that there was a swarm cell there. If one swarm cell is missed it will develop and the bees will swarm.
 Unsure what swarm cells look like? Go to Google Images, search for swarm cells and you will see over a million pics on what they look like.