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After swarm?

 
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mbc
Nurse Bee


Joined: 20 Nov 2012
Posts: 27
Location: Berwick, Victoria, Australia

PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2015 7:29 am    Post subject: After swarm? Reply with quote

After swarming there's many fewer bees in the hive.
Can I remove a bar or two?
Hive has become very full - only half a bar spare space at each end of hive,
making it awkward to work.
If so, which should be removed to have the least detrimental effect?

thanks, in anticipation.
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ingo50
Scout Bee


Joined: 30 May 2014
Posts: 311
Location: Newport, Gwent, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Where is the entrance on this TBH? Brood nest should be near it and honey at far end if your entrance is not in the middle, so you should be able to take from there.
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mbc
Nurse Bee


Joined: 20 Nov 2012
Posts: 27
Location: Berwick, Victoria, Australia

PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your reply, ingo50.

The entrance is in the middle.
The hive is built to Phil Chandler's design with 3 circular holes.
When full there's serious 'traffic jam' though so I've thought I might add a 4th or even 5th entrance.

Brood takes well over half of hive and, last I looked, there was room for some comb extention at honey end but brood area full.

So, only take a bar or two of honey and leave brood intact?
Don't want them to starve though.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1582
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2015 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi.

Many of us have moved away from central entrances as it can complicate things, having honey at both sides of the brood nest..... I say this in case you are considering building more hives.

If they have swarmed, then you will find there will be a lull in both brood and honey production and essentially the colony will shrink, so I wouldn't worry too much about space being tight.
If they have swarmed within the past few days, you might want to consider splitting them to prevent after swarms(casts). The queen and prime swarm usually emerge about the time the first queen cell is being capped which gives you about 10 days before the first queen will hatch. If the colony is still strong at that time and conditions are good, she will probably also swarm (a first cast swarm) but over the following few days there can be several emerge as the other queen cells hatch. This can significantly deplete a colony and they will need whatever stores they have to feed their new brood as they will be short of foragers.
Splitting the hive within that 10 day window means that there is less risk of losing bees and if nucs are made up from the queen cells, then you should have the benefit of spare queens if for any reason you find your main hive queenless.... something that happened to many people here in the UK this year.

Whatever you decide to do regarding preventing/allowing further swarming, I would certainly be inclined to wait a few weeks to see if they need that honey before harvesting any.

I would also discourage you from giving them any more entrance holes, especially now they have swarmed as that is when they are more vulnerable to robbing.. It might look jammed to you but I'm sure you would also find the interior of the hive jammed. The temptation is to look at the hive from a human perspective and apply human ideals. To be squeezing past and climbing over each other is a normal part of a bees life in the hive. When you watch the bees pouring out of the entrance when they swarm you realise that the size of the hole is not any great obstruction to their movement through it.

That said, I believe that conditions in Australia can be very favourable when there is a nectar flow on and that bees are able to collect nectar much more rapidly than is normal here in the UK, so be guided by local advice if you can find some.

Good luck with them

Barbara
PS. Did you manage to catch the swarm?
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mbc
Nurse Bee


Joined: 20 Nov 2012
Posts: 27
Location: Berwick, Victoria, Australia

PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2015 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Barbara,
thanks for your very informative post.

I 'jumped the gun' on my bees swarming.
Before i posted, there was a large rolling cluster of bees in a shrub about 15m from the front of the hive and there were hundreds of bees not in the cluster but just flying, seemingly, aimlessly around. I thought they were off.
But they returned to the hive later in the afternoon.

A local was to split the hive but had to go to USA for work. Another local wasn't willing to transfer from HTB hive to his conventional frames but says he will collect the swarm.

I wasn't really worried about space being tight for the bees, more that its awkward to work with so little space to slid bars to gain access. If there is a lull in brood production once they've swarmed, perhaps I can remove a couple of bars of brood comb to free up some space.

There's cross-combing of the honey, but not brood. Each honeycomb drifts at one end onto the neighbouring bar. I tried a number of times to ease it back onto to its own bar, it was quite soft and malleable, but next time I checked it had drifted again. I've since learned that it's a good idea to insert narrower 'extension bars' in this situation. However, there's currently no room to do this.

So, the old queen leaves with the prime swarm and the hive is queenless for about 10 days until a new queen hatches? And there may multiple swarms? I take your point about leaving any honey in place.

As to the extra entrance holes, the bees aren't just climbing over each other. When the weather's good there's a 'cloud' of bees waiting to get back into the hive after foraging while those at the entrance are climbing over each other. It's a strong colony with lots of hard-working bees.
When I open, there's always so many bees already around the hive when they could, with another entrace, have dropped off their goodies and gone off foraging again. There's a lot of 'bee-food' here on our property so they don't have to travel very far to forage.
However, I certainly won't create another entrance after swarming if that leaves them overly vulnerable.

Thanks again.
I feel as though I've just written a novel - not sure anyone will have the time to read through it all!
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1582
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2015 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the clouds of bees circling in the air apparently "waiting to get in" will actually be young bees doing orientation flights rather than queuing up for a landing slot! The foragers fly through them. The number of young bees peaks at swarming time so the hive can seem really chaotic (and noisy) as there will be many drones too.

It is unusual for a prime swarm to come out and then go back but certainly happens with cast swarms. I'm wondering if the prime swarm has already gone. You don't usually notice a reduction in activity at the hive until after the first cast as there are so many bees hatching out to replace the ones that have gone that the hive still looks packed.

How big is your hive? I think if you are really tight for space, you could harvest a couple of bars of honey to create room to manoeuvre, but be prepared to feed it back if necessary. I know some places in Australia suffer a serious dearth in the summer, when bees need to be able to eat into their stores.... it's almost like winter for us but hot instead of cold.... which is why I'm advising caution on harvesting. It's always difficult to give advice in conditions that are different from those you are familiar with.

Good luck with them. It's always great to hear about bees thriving and swarming when we are "putting ours to bed" for the year.

Regards

Barbara
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mbc
Nurse Bee


Joined: 20 Nov 2012
Posts: 27
Location: Berwick, Victoria, Australia

PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2015 2:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Barbara.
I learned something. Young bees doing orientation flights.
As I watch them, and their pattern of movement, that makes perfect sense.
Obviously a sign of a healthy hive, so no extra entrance required.

I'd be surprised if I'd missed them swarming. The hive is only about 5m from our house and I can see it from my office window (I work from home).
I would check it at least a dozen times a day and spend quite a bit of time watching them to see what they're up to.

Looks like being a long, hot summer - our earliest ever Total Fire Ban day yesterday, with many bushfires flaring up. So I'll leave their honey alone.
When my friend returns from USA I'll get him to check it out, see what he thinks.

Thanks again for your help
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