Is it spring yet?

Many of my beekeeping friends are questioning when the hives will be starting the swarm process. As usual, there are as many opinions as beekeepers. Generally the thought is that the mid Atlantic region west from the coast will be seeing activity starting in late March. Earlier than normal from a historical point but the winter was mild and most healthy hives are full of bees and brood.

A smaller subset of the group have been discussing making nucs and letting the bees come up with their own queen cell. Others point out that current nightly temperatures are in the low to mid 40s at best and that drone numbers are still a bit low. I’m in the “going to wait” group.

Because I’m not sure that nucs can successfully make their own queen at this time of year, my plan is to continue to pester my favorite queen supplier. Like most reputable suppliers they are being careful not to over commit. I respect this because I like my queens well mated. It does however put me in a bind. How do I keep the hives growing if they want to swarm and I don’t have queens to use when I pull frames to give extra space?

So plan A is to get queens before swarm cell get to out of control and plan B is to make nucs with ripe queen cells. Plan C is to put up swarm boxes around my yards and hope swarms like it. Plan D is to just muddle along letting the bees do what they do no matter what I think they should do. Plan D usually works best for the bees.