Zone 8a. How to maximize honey and avoid swarms? My plan has been messed up by bees that overwintered too well.
Last year was my first year.
My hives have come out of winter extremely strong and bursting at the seams. We still have a few weeks of freezing nights and not many plants are blooming yet, but while inspecting today I found a surprisingly large amount of drones and tons of brood and honey stores. I haven't even taken off my moisture boxes yet and I'm concerned I need to put on a super already.
So many drones have me worried about swarms, even though it's still early. All my hives are in double broods and I didn't harvest any honey last year (they started as nucs). Should I split them in half and add another brood box? Or, should I split them in half and just throw on a honey super and excluder? Alternatively, should I do a few small nuc size splits and keep the large hives mostly intact?
I didn't expect to need to split so early and the queens I have on order won't be ready for another two months or more. I wanted to get some honey supers filled before splitting, was that a pipe-dream? I don't have any issue making splits and letting rear their own queens if needed.
My goal this year is to bring in a honey harvest and then make some splits to sell. How do I avoid these early swarms and still have hives strong enough to give a healthy spring harvest?