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Swarming Question


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Why do bees swarm when they have plenty of room and plenty of stores? 

I have a very grumpy hive that was reasonably full,so gave them extra honey box. They had 2 full boxes brood and stores plus a full box honey.

Last week, the bottom box was patchy and empty of brood but still eggs and frames of brood in top box. They haven't looked at the new honey box and there was a swarm cell with egg.

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There's a good writeup on Randy Olivers site that describes what room to a bee is compared to space...which is what a honey box is.

Its to do with the cells available for the Q to lay in - and where it is in the hive. They seem to prefer to work in the upper box which is warmer- so that space in the lower box wasn't considered. The swarm prevention advice of swapping the upper and lower boxes around may have provided room in this case.

 

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Like all living creatures, bees are driven to reproduce, and propagate the species. That's why they swarm and if they did not, we would be in a world with no bees.

 

However about your hive in particular. The queen cell may have been an attempt to replace a poor queen, and if so, that would be a good thing. My recommendation is this. Keep an eye on things, and if they only build two or at most 3 queen cells, consider it supersedure and allow the process to continue, you will get a nice new queen.

But if they build more than 3 queen cells, more like a dozen or so, the plan is to swarm, and you will have to do some swarm control. Mummzie's advice is excellent.

 

I say all this, because your description sounds like a hive that could have a poor queen that the bees have decided to replace.

Edited by Alastair
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Tried to look at hives today. All 3 very loud and looks like robbers are hanging around. Made a start for a quick look. Got a decent sting on wrist then abandoned ship till next week when I get time. It all seems a bit harder than normal. Not sure why? Is it because they are stronger than normal at this time of year? Better go an down an antihistamin. The bee meant business!!

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On 23/10/2020 at 8:36 AM, Mummzie said:

There's a good writeup on Randy Olivers site that describes what room to a bee is compared to space...which is what a honey box is.

Its to do with the cells available for the Q to lay in - and where it is in the hive. They seem to prefer to work in the upper box which is warmer- so that space in the lower box wasn't considered. The swarm prevention advice of swapping the upper and lower boxes around may have provided room in this case.

 

Thanks Mummzie.

Decided can't leave till next week. Had another super quick check on 2 of the hives at around 6p.m. Robbers gone home. Swapped the two brood boxes around on the grumpy, swarmy one. No clue as to where they are at right now? All I know is hives are pretty full and humming.

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10 hours ago, Mummzie said:

could be time for a Queen change !

Have never seen this Queen! She is a tricky one. 

The two times I have tried requeening I failed. One hive had a laying worker and one hive still had a tiny Queen that I hadn't spotted that in late Spring had completely stopped laying. So the bees killed the new Queens. I guess it could be third time lucky.

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