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Thread: They Swarmed!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    Williston, NC, USA
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    Well, it happened. . .I was out in my garden watering when all of a sudden I heard that dreaded sound. Like a bloody B52 bomber. Looked over to the hives and sure enough, there was a massive spiral of bees headed for the heavens! Waited and watched and saw the direction they were headed. After about an hour of dithering about, they came to rest on a very convenient, reachable pine tree branch about 8' off the ground (as opposed to the one that was 25' off the ground last year!). So I was able to catch and hive this bunch. My first swarm collection! I'm so proud of myself. It was a big swarm, the main bunch in the shape of a football but about 1 1/2 times the size, with smaller bunches on the surrounding branches. Took a bit of doing, but I was lucky enough to get the queen first shot and place her in the box--after that, it was pretty easy to get them to follow. Now, my question is what I do now. I'm thinking I leave them alone for at least a week and then go in to see how they're doing, right? As for the original hive, I can wait at least two--maybe three--weeks before I have to go in and make sure they have a laying queen, right? This is a perfect example of how bees will always break the rules. The queen was only one year old, I had just given them another box, I was field feeding them to simulate a honey flow. So they had a young queen, a bountiful food and water supply, and room in the hive. But they swarmed anyway. Just goes to show you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    Healthy, and successful hives swarm. No matter what you do. Its mother natures way of perpetuating the species.

    I would check to see how many qeeun cells you have, and consider using queen excluders to stop afterswarming.

    Just a question....Did you notice your last inspection the building and converting from queen cups to queen cells? It is always a waste to miss a swarm. They also give indications ahead of time by not foraging as they normally do. They become lazy and hang out on the front of the hive. You can sometimes look at an apiary and see which one will swarm within a few days. There are telltale signs.

    Congradulations. Just now decide what you will do with the parent hive so it does not swarm itself to death if you have lots of queen cells.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
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    When I know which hive a swarm came out of, I usually "Padgen" it. Hive the swarm in the location of the parent hive, which is moved off to a new stand. The original hive loses any excess poulation back to the original loction where the swarm sits now.The original hive loses its population that might swarm with a virgin queen. You keep all of your foraging force together, and that padgened swarm will be a humdinger of a hive, probably collecting you a good crop.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    I like that idea.

    As mentioned the problem is the possiblilty of afterswarms.

    They gave you a couple of possible solutions to that.

    I think I like OD Frank's version. Another is just split up the original hive with one queen cell in each split, just to cut them down to size so they won't swarm.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    You know, it's just Murphy's Law. You will recall that last weekend I checked two of my three hives and was upset because I had to tear up all sorts of burr comb and drone cells becaused they had just filled every nook & cranny. Neither of those two boxes had any queen cells. So since they were both working on "older" or "superceded" queens, I figured the one with the 10-month-old queen wouldn't be thinking of swarming so I left them alone!

    I'm not sure I understand "padgening." I've place the swarm in a box about 20 feet to the left of the original hive. Are you telling me that I should switch the original hive to where the swarm now sits and vice versa? I'm sorry to be so thick, but if you could clarify it for me, I'll take care of it asap. Which brings me to another point--how soon must I do this? I work from 8 to 4 everyday and won't be off again until Friday. Is that too late? If so, is it okay to do it around 5 pm? We're supposed to break records tonight & get down to around freezing, but we warm up again tomorrow and get back to normal night temperatures (40-50).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >Are you telling me that I should switch the original hive to where the swarm now sits and vice versa?

    Yes, that's what he's saying. That is so the swarm gets the returning workforce of the old hive. In fact, now, I'd move the swarm to the site of their old hive and move that hive somewhere else and let the bees returning to the location of the swarm box find their way back to the old hive locaiton too, instead of having a box there.

    >Which brings me to another point--how soon must I do this? I work from 8 to 4 everyday and won't be off again until Friday. Is that too late?

    I guess you'll find out. The afterswarms often leave several days after and then every day or so after for several days or not at all. It's hard to say if Friday will be too late, but it well might be.

    >If so, is it okay to do it around 5 pm? We're supposed to break records tonight & get down to around freezing, but we warm up again tomorrow and get back to normal night temperatures (40-50).

    Sure. 5 pm works. But if you do it that late you might want to leave an empty box at the old swarm box site and them move it after dark back next to the old hive site and put a branch in front of both of the boxes there. That will get the returning bees that might not find the new location by dark.



  7. #7
    Here's one more thing I'd recommend doing. Putting swarms in a box (and even feeding them) won't insure they'll stay put. You stand a much better chance of "locking them in place" if you'll give them a frame of open brood from one of your other hives. No need to give them the nurse bees; just the frame of uncapped brood. They're much less likely to abscond if brood are present.
    Also, now would be the time to get several frames of wax foundation pulled out. You won't believe how quickly a swarm is prepared to draw out foundation! Good luck!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    Williston, NC, USA
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    txbeeguy, way ahead of you! Already gave them one frame of brood. And so far as drawing out foundation, they have to--all I've got is foundation; no drawn comb to spare. Remember, I just started last year and my hives have doubled since I began.

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