So following one of my regular inspections on my TBH it was obvious that the bees had decided that swarm preparations was the order of the day and had started to build swarm cells. This was a bit of a problem as it was earlier than I would have liked and I was not prepared but then everything is early this year.
I took the decision to buy some time and remove the queen cells and was reasonably confident I removed all the very advanced ones from the hive. Queen cells in TBH seem to be mostly positioned around the edges of the combs and are reasonably easy to spot, but some can be short as a greater amount of the cell can be molded into the comb. My next problem was that I only really want one TBH and currently I have two given the one I am looking after so a bit of thinking was required. My solution was to AS it into a 14×12 national hive as the deep brood box would easily hold the deep comb from the TBH and made that bit easier as the top bars are the same length as national top bars. I had this 14×12 BB spare as for a couple of years I had a 14×12 hive just to see what all the fuss was about but decided to stick with standard nationals. If I only had standard BB’s then I would have placed a super under to give extra height for the TBH comb. So I made up the hive with blocked off mesh floor, 14×12 BB, nine foundationless frames, one drawn frame, leaving a gap for the comb with the queen on and one extra top bar and an old work mate to raise the BB to the same entrance height of the TBH. Finally a piece of correx cut to cover the national frames as the TBH bars are that bit thicker and the correx would act as a crown board. As I had to move the TBH Susi one of the other two beekeepers in the apiary offered to help and we would inspect her hive afterwards. The actual AS went as to text book, Susi spotted the queen mid way through the TBH, I removed a couple of QC on the comb and we slipped it into the ready and waiting national hive, closed up the hive, moved the TBH and positioned the national hive on the work mate to the same position as the TBH. The returning bees were a bit surprised and a bit of confusion as the hive was now a completely different shape, but they soon all started to go in through the entrance. As I only rotated the TBH through 180* and moved it back seven feet I would expect some of the foraging bees to work out what has happened and perhaps return to the TBH but this would be no great problem if this was to happen. My plan now is to return in five days check the queen has no new QC.s on her comb and all is ok. Go into the TBH separate three combs of bees and a nice QC with a follower board from the rest of the bees and open one of the back entrances so creating a spare queen if needed, or remove four combs and queen cell into a TBH nuc. Finally go through the rest of the combs removing all remaining emergency queen cells following the removal of the original swarm cells and then introducing a comb containing eggs from the TBH I am looking after for a friend as they are excellent bees and more behaved than my bees in my TBH, although they are not that bad.
The queen in my friends TBH is actually the aunty of the queen from my TBH. My bees should realize I have removed their queen cells and build emergency queen cells on the donated comb. I will then look at the donated frame four days later and if possible remove any sealed QC’s and leave one nice open one.
So if all goes to plan I should have a prolific reasonably tempered queen transferred from TBH to national frames, a spare new young queen on TBH combs and finally a nice young good natured queen in my TBH. (something will go wrong)