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Second swarm likely?

 
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sara
Nurse Bee


Joined: 30 Dec 2011
Posts: 32
Location: Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England, HD1 4PP

PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 10:26 am    Post subject: Second swarm likely? Reply with quote

Hi, Please could someone help? I am in my 3rd year of top bar beekeeping. Picked up a swarm last year which did really well in my top bar and last week they swarmed. Very big swarm but there are still tons of bees in the hive. It still looks full - amazingly.

Please could someone tell me are they likely to swarm again if the issue was room? I know a cast can go after the main swarm but time has gone on now - about 12 days - so unlikely do you think? Once bees have swarmed in a season are they less likely to swarm again?

I am a bit concerned about the room issue - there is room towards one side and they have top bars free there but I expect the issue is around the brood nest and because they have cross-combed - yes I know and I won't let it happen again in any other hive - I can't really check or add more top bars without causing mayhem. Should I be adding more top bars in the brood nest do you think despite this? They have honey stored at each side of the brood nest and I know the queen won't go past this.

It has come cooler now and wet so I probably have a few days at least to decide whether I need to do anything or if I should leave them alone to continue now with the new queen.

Many thanks indeed for your anticipated help.

Sara
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Dexter's shed
Scout Bee


Joined: 16 May 2014
Posts: 307
Location: Grays, Essex, UK

PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

why do people think that swarming has something to do with available space?? swarming is natural and WILL happen every year,
you cant assume anything with bees, you could well get a 2nd,3rd or 4th cast swarm, unless you can get inside the hive a look, its just a guessing game
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biobee
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 1051
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Swarming is not caused by lack of space, but by the bees' natural instinct to reproduce and spread to new territory.

However, a crowded hive will tend to swarm earlier and may do so again if the weather is suitable.

The top bar hive has three key 'points of attention' -

1. keep on top of any tendency to cross-comb
2. stay ahead of their need to expand
3. anticipate the flow to avoid them becoming 'honey-bound'

Get those right, and all will go swimmingly - most of the time.

Cross-combing is a pain for the beekeeper, although it doesn't matter to the bees one bit. Prevention being better than cure, this is largely a matter of having good comb guides, correct bar width for your bees and keeping an eye on them until they have established a pattern.

The spring expansion can happen rapidly and the rule is - if in doubt, give them more space.

Once the flow gets going, they will be doing everything they can to pack every open cell with nectar, so if you can anticipate this and open up the brood area by 'checker-boarding' - inserting empty bars )or bars with some empty comb) in between bars of brood - the queen will be able to carry on laying while the foragers do their stuff.

A strong colony in good weather conditions can swarm more than once in a season.
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Dexter's shed
Scout Bee


Joined: 16 May 2014
Posts: 307
Location: Grays, Essex, UK

PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 6:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Second swarm likely? Reply with quote

sara wrote:
they have cross-combed - yes I know and I won't let it happen again in any other hive - I can't really check or add more top bars


unless you get in there now and correct this, it's only going to get worst

get some ladies spring loaded hair clips, cut the cross comb off, fix the hair clip to the top bar using zip ties, then simply put the comb in the jaws of the hair clip to hold in the correct position
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1567
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi

Unlikely yes but not guaranteed. You should be pretty well over the period at which they are likely to throw a cast but there is a slight possibility still for the next few days.

Now that the old queen has gone, you may find that it takes some time for the new queen to start laying, so the population will naturally start to diminish a little.

Is there any reason why you are worried about them swarming again? They certainly sound like they are strong enough to be able to afford to do so.

Personally I would not attempt to deal with cross combing at this time of year with a strong hive full of bees. The comb will be full of nectar and the process will be extremely messy and as a result you risk killing or damaging your new young queen and with no young brood left to create a replacement, it's very risky. The best time of year to deal with cross comb is early in the spring, when the comb is nearly empty, most of the honey that is left will be solidified so it's much easier to handle and there are less bees, so it is easier to find the queen and put her somewhere safe.

They are my thoughts anyway.

Best wishes

Barbara
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