Preventing Swarms: Super Early...Way Early

With spring weather arriving early, I thought it would be a good idea to start preparing for swarm season now. Below are a few pictures of the red tulips and dandelions in the yard already!

At the local club meeting this week, one of the members said he already saw swarm cells in his hives! I figured since my hives were already populated quite heavily, I ought to come home and check for swarm cells myself.

Checking isn't difficult, basically lift up the top brood box, and look along the bottom bars for peanut shaped queen cells.

Below you can see I lifted the top box up, exposing the bottom bars of the top box.

There is some burr comb there, but no queen cells.

Setting the top box aside, I lifted the bottom box up, and checked it for queen cells. In the picture below, you can see bees hanging out on the screened bottom board, probably wondering where their box just went!

Even more burr comb, but no queen cells, at least for now. Whew!

Last weeks I reversed the hive boxes to help encourage the queen to lay in more frames and spread out the brood. It's also supposed to help encourage them to stay in the hive by alleviating the urge to swarm.

Today, to further help encourage them to stay (and not swarm) I followed the advice of others in the club and gave the girls a couple of supers.

Honestly, I was thinking of doing this last weekend, but wasn't sure if it was appropriate or not. I should have stuck with my gut feeling. :)

Giving supers now allows the bees to put the nectar that's coming into the hive into the supers, and not back-fill the brood boxes and make the queen honey bound. Too much honey in the brood boxes means the queen won't have enough room to lay eggs, and being crowded is a sure way to encourage swarming.

For my own record-keeping purposes, I gave them one drawn out medium super that I used during last year's honey harvest, and a shallow super of un-drawn pure wax foundation that I'm hoping to use for chunk honey.

I figure if they're itching to draw wax, maybe I can get them to draw out the shallow super instead of drawing out more burr comb. If they're not interested in drawing out the foundation, they'll at least have a medium super already drawn out for them.

I left the hive top feeder leaning against the hive for a couple of hours, waiting for all the bees in it (trying to lick up any hint of residual sugar syrup that was left) to go back into the hive before I stored it in the garage.

So as I left them today, I took a quick picture, just to have a timestamped photo that proves I really did give two supers to a hive in mid-march.

Comments For This Post: (0) Be The First! | Post Your Comments! Hide The Comment Form

Post your Comments!

Your Name: (Leave Blank for Anonymous)

(Feel free to link back to your site within your message!)

You should see a captcha above.
If you don't, your network or browser is likely blocking it.
Your comments will not appear until they're approved.