Easter Weekend and No Break for the Bee-Keeper!
Well Easter weekend was here and went down to visit my family in New Kent VA. Dad has 4 hives and this is his second year. We had placed his drawn medium honey super on his strongest hive a few weeks ago, he runs all mediums. Anyway, I inspected the first 3 and was very pleased, 2 need honey supers on them and 1 needs its third medium since this was the parent of the split I took home since it had started swarm cells… So his hives are doing very very well, I have split a lot (twice already) of my hives and have very few what I call Super Hives, so it was refreshing to work slam full hives again, although not the easiest thing to do…LOL
When I got to his 4 hive and the one with the drawn super, the entire super was filled with honey (not quite capped though). We continued to inspect and found about 10 swarm cells or cups with eggs in them, so since he wants honey and I wasn’t prepared to take home another split and he didn’t want to split, he made the choice to inspect once a week and cut all swarm cells on each frame. A tough task as if you miss one they will swarm… unfortunately for him these bees had made swarm cells in all 3 boxes, so he will have to fully inspect each frame. I always tell folks never have rules of thumb with bees and always inspect, very few were in the typical bottom location where you can see them by lifting boxes, many were in comb irregularities. So inspect!!!
Well I cut all the cells and kept some for the royal jelly and grafting. I normally dont subscribe to cutting swarm cells as I think its working too much against the biology of the bees much like reversing hive bodies in the early spring… Anyway, I cut them all and then removed 2 frames of capped drone brood (these were natural comb frames) and replaced them with foundation to open the brood nest since they were near the center and not on the outside. This should help with brood nest congestion and give the bees something to do. The next thing I did was take another empty medium super with foundation and use the existing 10 honey frames and stagger the frames so that each box had 5 frames of honey with foundation on each side of a honey frame, similar to “checkerboarding”.
So to re-cap, I cut the swarm cells and cups, I removed drone brood and installed foundation to open the brood nest, and I “checkerboarded” 2 honey supers to open the “honey ring” and keep the bees busy. Hopefully all this will help them reverse their thinking and decide “What a second we don’t have queen cells, we have empty brood area, and we don’t have enough honey above us b/c we have empty space…” , maybe all this will stop or slow the inevitable swarm.
If we can get through the nectar flow without swarming it will be a miracle, but might be worth the weekly inspections for queen cells if his honey crop comes in large!!! Once the nectar flow is over we can always split then…
Now I need to check my Honey Hives…