We are in the middle of supering the overwintered parent colonies right now. A good portion of the bee yards have a strong honey flow that has gone on during the past week–hopefully some it winds up in the honey boxes rather than staying down in the brood chamber. The black locust bloom seems to be especially strong this year.
Before we put the supers on the parent colonies, we usually crack the brood boxes to make sure that they aren’t on the verge of swarming. We split a number of hives twice, so the majority are happy to stay home for the moment, but there’s always a few that grow quicker than the others and start to think about moving into a nearby tree.
When the cells are still open, it’s usually possible to pull out a few frames of brood/honey and keep the old queen active. Here are a number of cells that are starting to get elongated–they have larvae and a pool of royal jelly inside:
By the time the cells get capped, it’s much harder to get those bees to stay in the hive–a lot of times I just split the boxes and make sure there is at least one cell in each box. That way you just lose the old queen and some of the bees from one box instead of losing a lot of bees from both boxes. It is always an option to hunt down the queen and put her in another box that has lots of space, but it’s too time consuming for us to search through overpopulated hives to find the queens in hives that are about to swarm (though sometimes I do it anyway).
Here is a capped cell:
The reproductive power of the bee has been extra impressive this year. Overall, the weather has cooperated in our area–fairly warm temperatures and good spring bloom. I had split a number of singles that we started in late April and early May. Yesterday they were totally packed and ready for a second brood box. I’m afraid that the huge amount of brood rearing has also helped the varroa mites get a headstart on the year. We’ll hope for the honey crop first.