Following some advice from a beekeeper I listen to, we’ve been checking our hives every 5 days since the first of April to check for signs of swarming (trying to stay ahead of it, and improve on last year’s panic and swarm-fun!).
Tonight was another scheduled check, and up to this point, we were seeing nothing; I’m in the bee yard on my own (Anita was watching “the boys”), and the plan was to do what we have been doing; quick check, barely disturb the hives by taking off boxes quickly, tipping them, and looking at the bottom bars (NOT inspecting each frame).
Voila; on the first hive I check (Blue dots on Yellow) I see 2 viable queen cells, with royal jelly, and I see 2 others (both closed, but 1 a little smashed). So now, the fun begins.
Last year, we used a “walk away” split method, where we take the frames with queen cells, and put them into a new hive, leaving the old queen in the old hive; it produced viable hives, but we had a LOT of swarming in our yards; I think I wrote about how “Blue” had 4 swarms come out of that thing!
This year, due to local COBA beekeeper feedback from “Mike”, Dan Williams, and our own research, we decided to try something different (wanting different results), and adjust to “Pagden’s Artificial Swarm Method”; “The Apiarist” has the best explanation I’ve seen for this, so I won’t repeat that gem here (but here’s the link): https://theapiarist.org/pagdens-artificial-swarm/
I won’t repeat the details, but basically, find the queen and move her to a “new” hive, but leave it in the same place, and move the “old” hive-with-queen-cells to a different (but close) location, wait 7 days, then move the “old” hive-with-queen-cells again.
Finding the queen in Blue dots on Yellow was fun…. yep, very last box I checked, top-most box (#4) below the queen excluder, there she was; made the split and move. (Had some spare boxes, and put frames with queen cells in that box while we searched for the queen; when found, (made sure there was no queen cells on THAT frame, and quickly moved her to another box; filled “her” box with open comb, shook some bees in, etc.) (as per instructions at “The Apiarist” link.)
Went on to check Blue dots on Green; it had about 4 viable cells, better shapes, better positions. Found that queen very quickly (bottom box).
We were probably close enough to get some of it right; but we were fighting with time, effort, etc. So we made moves, and did our best (but did not rearrange the entire yard). We’ll wait 7 days, and then switch them around again (but we will probably just switch the positions of “Old” and “New” for the Copper Nuc.
Where are things now (see the picture?)? The Copper Nuc has the queen from Blue Dots on Yellow, and the Blue Stripe on Yellow Nuc has the queen from Blue Dots on Green.
We have to get into the bee yard quickly tomorrow and check Yellow and Blue… see if we need to do the same….