Artifical Swarm

I described the artificial swarm management plan in the last post. It’s been showery for the past several days, and so while we knew the ‘X’ hive was ready to swarm, we hadn’t managed to get in there. Over the past two days the hive had been acting ‘swarmy’. By that I mean they had lots of bees clustered on the outside of the hive – much more so than our other two large colonies. While bees bearding on the outside of the hive is a common method of cooling off in really hot weather, it was barely pushing 60F so you could tell they were ready to go.

Sure enough, we opened the hive to find several beautiful queen cells. Here’s the most developed one – in the middle of a frame. Typically mid-frame cells are considered ‘superceedure’ cells, but in this case there were queen cells all over. The queen was a marked one from last fall – if she is failing we will know soon enough!

How many queen cells can you see below? (note the botom of the frame is on the right of the photo)
We went into the hive with a very specific plan, and a timer running to get it split before the rain came back in. The ‘X’ boxes are the hive to split. We also brought out ‘square’ boxes. This enabled us to put the frames we had already checked in an empty box. We took the honey super off and placed in in front of the hive and Rob and I each took one of the deep boxes and went through the frames looking for the queen. 

 It looks like quite a scattering of equipment, and in some ways it was, but there was a method to the madness and that helped a lot.

After we found the queen we put her in our empty nuc box. Those ‘hair clip’ style queen catchers are really invaluable. We kept the queen in our pocket for a while while we picked out which 5 frames we wanted to put in the nuc. After we had the queen and had triple-checked there we no queen cells in the nuc we reassembled the hive adding in the new frames of foundation.

While we did make sure to put the best queen cells back into the hive, we didn’t pay any attention to the order of the brood nest, and you could tell as the bees flew around outside for a bit, confused as to all the rearranging we had done.

If all went well in a few weeks we should see a laying queen in this hive. We’ll then mark her (green for 2014) and send the whole hive on it’s way to NH for honey production!