Photo by Alex Wild @alexanderwild.com
Observation hives are notoriously tricky to manage - they are cumbersome and heavy, and the size of an observation hive is non-ideal from the perspective of the honey bee. This means you have to be extra diligent that your hive is neither about to starve nor about to swarm.
Recently our observation hives at several of our sites started to look like this:
This is a hive that will soon prepare to swarm. Once you spot the queen cells being built, it is nearly too late. In some of our field sites, we decided to let them go ahead and swarm. In Blacksburg, we attempted management. This involved removing a frame of brood to reduce the population.
We took the observation hives outside, opened them up, took out the brood frame, and put in an empty frame. And voila, space has one again been created.
Here summer techs Sharif, doing beekeeping in flip flops like a boss, and Brad, who turned out to be a queen whisperer, pose by a full frame of bees.