Jump to content
JasonK

NZBF Is my hive about to swarm?

Recommended Posts

I discovered quite a large clump of bees outside one of my hives today and upon inspection I discovered very erratic drone laying and many queen cells which had jelly inside, and one or two capped QC’s. I destroyed all the cells but now I’m regretting it as I believe I should have let the swarm / supercedure happen to get rid of the lame queen. Please advise 

D3028521-5F88-4862-AA1A-415EC0842BC6.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 How many frames of bees and brood does your second hive have? Just thinking of what your options could be. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, Rob Stockley said:

 How many frames of bees and brood does your second hive have? Just thinking of what your options could be. 

The other hive in the photo has 8 frames drawn out with plenty of solid brood laying. There’s two other strong hives with FD double boxes in my apiary, they’re ready for honey supers. I’m unsure how to tell if these bees in the photo are bearding (23 degrees in NP today), or if they’re indeed preparing to swarm. Really regretting destroying the capped QC’s inside now. Ameteur move. There are some new eggs inside, but so much drone laid in worker cells. Seems like a bad queen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the Queen is laying as poorly as you mentioned it is probably supercedure.although bees hanging around,

particularly hanging facing up on the side walls of the hive indicate the swarming process  is underway.

 

We need to get some more info.

-  You mention you have seen eggs but have you seen the Queen? 

-  How many Queen cells did you destroy?   And where on the frame were they located?  Any along the bottom'ish?

 

A photo of typical brood would be handy.

 

All is not lost, if supercedure they will probably try again, if swarm cells you've destroyed them.

  • Agree 1
  • Good Info 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is the hive wall to wall bees? Is it honey and/or pollen bound? Is there room for the queen to lay? Where were the queen cells located, on the bottom of the frame, or in the middle of the frames? 

 

May pay to add a frame with eggs from another hive after inspection. It may also be useful to mark this frame with a bit of crayon so you know which one it was. The girls usually fix our mistakes for us! If they think her royal highness is not up to much they'll build another cell.

 

Is there any worker brood in the hive? If not it maybe best to track down the queen in there and give her a bit of a squash, as she may already have fizzled and be a drone layer.

 

Its hard to work out from an external picture, a picture of some frames would be helpful.

 

good luck, don't worry they're cleverer than us most of the time9_9

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As that first hive in the picture is bearding, I am going to make the assumption that they are preparing to swarm and that both of those hive require and extra box.  At this time of the year I would expect all hives to be into the second box by now.

As said before.  Without seeing the frames, this is all speculation.

  • Thanks 1
  • Agree 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Capped queen cells, unless you're very lucky, often mean the swarm has already left. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, CraBee said:

If the Queen is laying as poorly as you mentioned it is probably supercedure.although bees hanging around,

particularly hanging facing up on the side walls of the hive indicate the swarming process  is underway.

 

We need to get some more info.

-  You mention you have seen eggs but have you seen the Queen? 

-  How many Queen cells did you destroy?   And where on the frame were they located?  Any along the bottom'ish?

 

A photo of typical brood would be handy.

 

All is not lost, if supercedure they will probably try again, if swarm cells you've destroyed them.

Yeah I’m going to head back there tomorrow so I’ll see if I can spot the queen, I didn’t see her today when I took the above photo. There was a mixture of supercedure cells on middle of the frames, and other smaller queen cups closer to the bottom of the frames. In all probably 2/3 supercedure cells and around 5 cups. One or two of the cups had jelly inside but not yet capped. One of the supercedure cells was capped and I can’t actually believe I destroyed it, because it was rather impressive. They still have 2 or 3 empty frames undrawn inside the box. The brood frames are super patchy, probably more capped drone than capped workers. The eggs in some worker cells look fresh. Maybe I should buy a few cups and graft from my favourite hive and try get them to raise a decent queen from those. I’ll likely need to give them a frame of brood from a stronger hive to keep the numbers up. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Dave Black said:

Capped queen cells, unless you're very lucky, often mean the swarm has already left. 

Yeah or perhaps that was them hanging around outside waiting on the search party to get the suss on a new location before ######ing off. One way or another I feel as though they won’t be congregated like that by the time I get there tomorrow. So gutted that I didn’t leave that lovely big capped supercedure cell alone. Obviously a terrible judgement call. A very beginner mistake. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Trevor Gillbanks said:

As that first hive in the picture is bearding, I am going to make the assumption that they are preparing to swarm and that both of those hive require and extra box.  At this time of the year I would expect all hives to be into the second box by now.

As said before.  Without seeing the frames, this is all speculation.

Yeah but they have 3 frames undrawn still so I figured they’d be happy with that amount of space for another week or so.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, JasonK said:

Yeah I’m going to head back there tomorrow so I’ll see if I can spot the queen, I didn’t see her today when I took the above photo. There was a mixture of supercedure cells on middle of the frames, and other smaller queen cups closer to the bottom of the frames. In all probably 2/3 supercedure cells and around 5 cups. One or two of the cups had jelly inside but not yet capped. One of the supercedure cells was capped and I can’t actually believe I destroyed it, because it was rather impressive. They still have 2 or 3 empty frames undrawn inside the box. The brood frames are super patchy, probably more capped drone than capped workers. The eggs in some worker cells look fresh. Maybe I should buy a few cups and graft from my favourite hive and try get them to raise a decent queen from those. I’ll likely need to give them a frame of brood from a stronger hive to keep the numbers up. 

 

The Queen may be on the way out but her viable eggs are still fine to produce Queen cells from, I suggest you keep it simple at this stage and go with that.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Bron said:

Is the hive wall to wall bees? Is it honey and/or pollen bound? Is there room for the queen to lay? Where were the queen cells located, on the bottom of the frame, or in the middle of the frames? 

 

May pay to add a frame with eggs from another hive after inspection. It may also be useful to mark this frame with a bit of crayon so you know which one it was. The girls usually fix our mistakes for us! If they think her royal highness is not up to much they'll build another cell.

 

Is there any worker brood in the hive? If not it maybe best to track down the queen in there and give her a bit of a squash, as she may already have fizzled and be a drone layer.

 

Its hard to work out from an external picture, a picture of some frames would be helpful.

 

good luck, don't worry they're cleverer than us most of the time9_9

Thanks bron! Yeah I’m just gutted I squashed the supercedure cell and not the drone laying queen!! I’m hoping the girls will create another few cells, or perhaps I should attempt grafting from my best hive and placing in this hive. 

They have a few more frames undrawn inside so I’d have thought they’d draw it all out before deciding to head off! I’m not quite sure what to do now aside from boosting numbers with a solid frame of brood from another hive like you’ve suggested.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, CraBee said:

 

The Queen may be on the way out but her viable eggs are still fine to produce Queen cells from, I suggest you keep it simple at this stage and go with that.

As in, you think I should just let them do their thing without destroying any more cells? Let them raise a queen from current eggs? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If it is a Dronelayer, you won't get a viable queen from those eggs. That's why I suggested the marked frame from a known viable queen.

  • Agree 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, JasonK said:

Yeah but they have 3 frames undrawn still so I figured they’d be happy with that amount of space for another week or so.

 

They may not be congested but a factor in bees swarming is the Q running out of laying room (drawn comb).  Waxed plastic or foundation don't count.  

Also bees swarm when the cell is capped but I've been fortunate to have a good number this year that haven't, so if it is swarming you may be lucky.

Don't worry about destroying the cell, they know how to make more :-)

 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Bron said:

If it is a Dronelayer, you won't get a viable queen from those eggs. That's why I suggested the marked frame from a known viable queen.

 

Yes @bron is right, I missed the bit about how much drone brood there is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, CraBee said:

 

They may not be congested but a factor in bees swarming is the Q running out of laying room (drawn comb).  Waxed plastic or foundation don't count.  

Also bees swarm when the cell is capped but I've been fortunate to have a good number this year that haven't, so if it is swarming you may be lucky.

Don't worry about destroying the cell, they know how to make more :-)

 

As a matter of interest, how long will it take the girls to make more queen cells? If the queen is a drone layer or running out of sperm then I imagine the bees wouldn’t have any interest in swarming with her. I don’t think she ran out of laying space. Maybe the bees are trying to replace her and were bearding because of heat but yeah I suppose it’s hard to know. The beard may have contained the queen and they were possibly awaiting the search Bees to return and elect a new location. If they’ve swarmed or are just about to then no eggs will be laid in any new queen cells. May need to buy a queen..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, JasonK said:

As a matter of interest, how long will it take the girls to make more queen cells? If the queen is a drone layer or running out of sperm then I imagine the bees wouldn’t have any interest in swarming with her. I don’t think she ran out of laying space. Maybe the bees are trying to replace her and were bearding because of heat but yeah I suppose it’s hard to know. The beard may have contained the queen and they were possibly awaiting the search Bees to return and elect a new location. If they’ve swarmed or are just about to then no eggs will be laid in any new queen cells. May need to buy a queen..

 

It's 16 days from an egg being laid or I think of it as 13 days which is from when the bees select a young larvae(s) to raise as a Queen.  

The bees will still swarm with a failing Queen.

The bearding seems unusual if there was plenty of space left in the hive, a few weeks back I had a hive getting ready to swarm with one whole outside side wall covered in bees - all facing up.

If they swarm, they'll go to a nearby structure first, eg a tree, the bearding that is showing if swarm related is a stage before that.

You mentioned you saw eggs....so they could use those but as per earlier comments from others a frame from another hive would be best.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, CraBee said:

 

It's 16 days from an egg being laid or I think of it as 13 days which is from when the bees select a young larvae(s) to raise as a Queen.  

The bees will still swarm with a failing Queen.

The bearding seems unusual if there was plenty of space left in the hive, a few weeks back I had a hive getting ready to swarm with one whole outside side wall covered in bees - all facing up.

If they swarm, they'll go to a nearby structure first, eg a tree, the bearding that is showing if swarm related is a stage before that.

You mentioned you saw eggs....so they could use those but as per earlier comments from others a frame from another hive would be best.

 

Should I set up a swarm box for them to potentially occupy? Yeah, I may end up buying a mated queen because I want to get the hive ready for flow and the queens made from small worker cells can’t be too great?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, JasonK said:

Should I set up a swarm box for them to potentially occupy? Yeah, I may end up buying a mated queen because I want to get the hive ready for flow and the queens made from small worker cells can’t be too great?

 

Best to focus on stopping them swarming (if it is that).  Swarms can go anywhere.....

The bees re-work the worker cells and the Queens that come from them are just as good (some would say better) than the Queens from man made cells.

  • Thanks 1
  • Agree 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Get a quality pic showing the queen cells, the brood including the drone brood in worker cells, normal brood if there is any, and some eggs. We can then tell you what's happening, and what to do.

  • Thanks 1
  • Agree 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So you've admitted that you have cut out queencells and now regret it. I would be surprised if any beekeeper would deny doing the same at some point! :)

An old beekeeper said to me - if you are not sure what to do, put the lid on the hive and go and make a cup of tea to give yourself time to decide what to do. That still goes around my head when I open a hive on occasions..

 

I would usually expect to see a cluster out of the hive like that after a clipped queen had attempted to swarm? (Or congestion and high air temperatures). If you have removed sealed queencells there may not be any eggs for the bees to make a new queen from in which case a frame of brood with eggs from your best colony will result in queencells being drawn and you can cut down to one queencell after a week or so. With only the one frame of brood you are adding to the hive, the bees should make a decent queen. If you are expecting a flow, you could move the hive to the other side of the neighbouring hive - or move it a few feet away and the flyers will return to the neighbouring hive, thus strengthening it for the flow, leaving the other hive to raise a queen.

 

  • Like 2
  • Good Info 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Alastair said:

Get a quality pic showing the queen cells, the brood including the drone brood in worker cells, normal brood if there is any, and some eggs. We can then tell you what's happening, and what to do.

Unfortunately I wiped out all queen cells. But I’ll take a pic today. Very high amounts of drone laid in worker cells. Not all drawn frames are full, many empty cells. Some new eggs. There was a number of queen cups near the bottom and two supercedure cells in middle of a frame one was capped. Obviously I should have found the queen, killed her, and left only the capped supercedure cell.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, JasonK said:

Obviously I should have found the queen, killed her, and left only the capped supercedure cell.

Disagree. Not obvious at all. Just one of many possibilities. Welcome to beekeeping ?

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alright so today I looked a little more closely and to my surprise, there’s a new queen inside! It appears the new eggs are hers! Very interesting! The old queen has probably swarmed, but it’s very strange to see the old queen last week and this week a new queen laying eggs! I’ve realised that they hadn’t enough drawn comb to work so that’s probably why she swarmed. The beard outside the hive was smaller today but didn’t contain the old queen. I’ve given them drawn comb and two frames of brood from another hive, later in the week I’ll put another box on top if the new queen has laid out the drawn comb. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...