Urban beekeeping in New Mexico's largest city.
I had three first year hives spring from swarms in Carr/Bradford pattern top bar hives. They have been growing well, especially after the monsoon rains started a couple weeks ago and it looked like they were going to make it into winter strong and I could even get a small harvest. I decided to take a look through the windows on Sunday night and saw three capped swarm cells. I went through the hive the next morning and found the queen and a seven cells at various stages along the bottom of the combs. I moved the queen to a nuc with five bars of stores and mixed brood. I also removed some of the cells, so hopefully I stopped the swarm.
Last night I checked the hives again and there was a swarm cell in another hive. I checked the hive this morning and found two capped, three uncapped cells and the queen so I repeated the procedure. The location and number of cells as well as the state of the hives makes me pretty sure they were swarming, not superseding. Neither hive was particularly crowded, 22 and 20 bars in 32 bar hives, but they were bringing in tons of pollen and raising brood. I guess I was just spectacularly lucky to notice before the swarm issued. Has anyone else seen late season swarms?
Now I have two strong but queenless hives and three weak but queenright hives that I need to get ready for winter. Last check I had a total of 52 drawn bars, so I don’t think I can get all five ready, even heavily feeding the splits. I think I can combine down to four hives and be okay. How much stores do people usually leave for hives in the East Mountains? I would guess they will need more than hives in Albuquerque, but I was curious what other people have done for winter.
Thanks for posting your discussion. You raise some good questions about late season swarming and how much honey to leave in the hives for overwintering. While I can't speak for everyone in the East Mountain Beeks group, I can say there are a number of us who are in their first or second year of beekeeping (including myself). So, we're in the same boat trying to figure out how much to leave for the winter. I have my bees in Langstroth hives and I'm planning a light harvest. I want to give them every possible chance to survive. I have to say I was thinking there would be more honey in the hives by this time of year, but I didn't quite know what to expect. There's still several more weeks for them to collect nectar before it starts cooling off in late September and I'm hoping they can build up their stores.