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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Porter, Ok USA
    Posts
    491

    Post

    I am in need of some opinion.

    Twice now in the last month my beekeeping partner has called to tell me that "a small swarm" has formed and that I am welcome to it if I want.

    Both these swarms have been about two cups of bees. I put the first in a nuc thinking it probably was the remnant of a swarm that had departed and that it would be gone the next day. Surprise; eggs and brood a week later.

    Today I had cut some old comb and fitted it in tiny frames for a "baby nuc", the first I had completed for next year's effort. When my buddy called I just took this nuc over and shook the bees into it. I put it on a box under the branch where the bees had clustered and in l5 minutes this 8-inch cube was a going beehive.

    Now, what I want to know is this: What in the devil are these bees doing, throwing tiny casts in mid-September? Am I picking up mating swarms? Are these bees accompanying a supersedure queen on a mating flight and then not going home? Are these the "surplus" queens from a group reared for supersedure? Is this a normal event? My friend's hives are healthy and working, but not particularly crowded. No indication that they are so crowded that they need space.

    I have never seen this before---not that I have seen everything, but I certainly did not expect these tiny swarms. Please let me know what you think.
    Oxankle

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
    Posts
    457

    Post

    I'm not a professional, but don't AHB send out small swarms like what you've described? I'm not saying that is what it is, but it sounds familar.

    Pugs


    [This message has been edited by Pugs (edited September 20, 2004).]

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Porter, Ok USA
    Posts
    491

    Post

    Pugs;
    Do you think that a sweaty old man in his shirtsleeves could hive an African swarm, or two? I cut down the twigs these clusters were on, and I shook them into boxes. Not a sting. Did not even excite the bees. Nope, that is not the explanation for this phenomenon.
    Ox

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
    Posts
    6,081

    Post

    Hey, sweaty old man,

    This year has been crazy. I have caught more swarms in September this year than any other month.

    I'm just guessing, but at least here it may have something to do with the non-stop flower source this year. Its been wet and the clover ran all year. Goldenrod started early and is still strong. Many of my hives that I would be praying they save enough in some years, are now busting from packing it in. It wasn't a great honey year, but was non-stop.

    On one hand it seemed everyone wanted to know where all the swarms were this year. Slow all summer. Now everyone is asking "whats up with the swarms in September?"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
    Posts
    457

    Post

    Hey Oxankle,

    I wouldn't know about 'old' a friend is 30+ years older than me (his late 70s) and he is in better shape than I am.

    It didn't sound like they were AHB, but I had to say it before someone else did. It is described as one of their characteristics, ya know.

    Pugs




    [This message has been edited by Pugs (edited September 20, 2004).]

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    tulsa, ok usa
    Posts
    2,265

    Post

    Porter is far away from any county that has AHB in Oklahoma.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Central Square, NY, Oswego County
    Posts
    814

    Arrow

    My guess is that you have after swarms. There might be some major problems in the old hive and these bees are now trying to leave and start on their own. You will have trouble to try to keep them thru the winter. It is much to late to try to save them since they do not have enough time to raise brood and also a crop for winter stores. This hive might be a 'swarmer' and that is a generic problem. I have had hives where that is all they did, got no honey but lots of headache. In my opinion take care of the hives you have and leave that one alone. You do not want those genes in your bees.
    Dan

  8. #8
    BILLY BOB Guest

    Post

    We had the same thing happen last year. I’m not sure why, but we did have a wet summer, and we had one of the best fall flows that anybody can remember.

    Other than that I can’t give you a good answer, but it’s kinda’ sad to see the small swarms that you know will never make it a week.

    BB

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Porter, Ok USA
    Posts
    491

    Post

    Well, fellows:
    I am still looking for answers, but your comments help.

    I hate to see these little swarms die, but of course there is no hope for them. In the meantime they are doing useful work building comb and, in the baby nuc, tying the comb to the frames. There is a good fall flow going and it will not freeze her for another six weeks or so.

    I don't think they are afterswarms; the hives they had to come from show no signs whatever of diminished populations, and we've seen no prime swarms since early June. On top of all that, I have never seen an aftercast as small as these swarms. Not over a cupful of bees in this last one but this morning they are organized and covering a full frame of comb in the baby nuc. I'll check it for eggs tomorrow, and I'll bet the frame will be almost full. I've not seen the queen in either of the two casts.
    Ox


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Raymond, Mississippi, USA
    Posts
    177

    Post

    Why not rejoin them to a normal hive.... We were going to do that with the several swarms we caught this late fall. Put 'em in another box with frames on top of an established hive (Kill the queen first of course) with newspaper separating the two colonies of bees.... when they eventually get into the other side of the paper ie: the other colony, they should all accept each other...
    Thats how to do it , YES Mr Bush??
    I only read how to do it, I've never needed to do it myself yet... We have time here to get all out swarms reasonably established before winter.

  11. #11
    rocky ridge bees Guest

    Post

    i myself have went out to small swarms this month , only abouta cup of bees . some have started making cone where they landed. got one out of meter box, small mock pear tree in city park werd! DEANO

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Central Square, NY, Oswego County
    Posts
    814

    Post

    I tell you it's the A Bomb that has done this. Everything has gone hay wire. Next is locusts and floods, hey wait we got the floods, must have missed the locust.
    Dan

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Porter, Ok USA
    Posts
    491

    Post

    Lol, Dan:

    Sure 'nuff could have been the bomb, never thought about that. Like Rocky says, Weird.

    Sippy: There is no point in trying to unite a cup of bees with a full hive. These are TINY swarms with no economic value unless you think they have a young queen and you NEED a queen.

    At the moment one of them is busy tying comb to frames in one of my baby nucs, the other is so small they cannot cover brood. Both seem to have good sized queens, so I may give the weaker a frame of bees so that she can finish drawing comb in a nuc. We have about six weeks of weeds yet to bloom here.

    For you pro's; is there any way to reliably estimate a queen's age from her appearance? I've never heard of such, but I cannot believe that a healthy mature queen would leave with a swarm this late in the year.

    I've heard that African hives often raise and retain several queens, but these aren't Africans.
    Ox

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Central Square, NY, Oswego County
    Posts
    814

    Arrow

    If you don't clip the queens wing, or mark her then no there is no way of knowing her age. Some beekeepers clip left side wing on odd or even years, and the other wing on another year. This is based on a every other year queen replacement. You know the queen your replacing age by which wing is clipped. I do the marking and wing clip. Marking makes her easier to find and the wing clip I know about how old the 'old lady' is.
    Dan

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Central Square, NY, Oswego County
    Posts
    814

    Big Grin

    I admit this has been a weird year. I had one hive that just keep swarming no mater what I did, I tried to cage her. Had her in the cage for a few days, as soon as I let her out off they go! Finally got rid of the queen, and they stopped. I think she was a virgin and they were trying to 'help' her en-mass. They did this 4 times before I took the drastic step. I just had another prime swarm take off about the middle of August and could not do anything about it. This hive did not show any signs, no beards, plenty of room, no queen cells, NO INDICATION what they were going to do. Biggest problem was that they had an un-clipped queen and set up 40-50 feet in a black cherry tree. All I could do is watch! That was sad for me. All the books and experience I have and they decide they could do with out me.
    Dan

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Mason, MI, USA
    Posts
    1,015

    Lightbulb

    I have seen this. It happens when the beekeeper removes honey suppers and this does not leave enough room in the hive for all the bees. They complete emergency queens and the hive emits these small swarms in the fall. I prevent this by putting an empty supper on the top of the hive in place of the suppers to give these bees somewhere to go. You can remove the empty box after 2 weeks as much of the hive population had decreased by the older bees dying and not being replaced by the queen as she has slowed down for winter.
    Clint
    A Beekeeper sence 1964.


    ------------------
    Clinton Bemrose
    just South of Lansing Michigan

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Porter, Ok USA
    Posts
    491

    Post

    Clint:

    If you are correct, this is just the thing I wanted to hear.

    If in fact the hives threw these small swarms in the normal "overcrowding" mode they have effectively re-queened themselves and will go into the winter with a new young queen. The loss of the swarm is insignificant as there were no more than a couple of ounces of bees.
    Ox

    .

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Mason, MI, USA
    Posts
    1,015

    Post

    You want to prevent these small swarms because only the very young bees go with the swarm and the hive might need them as winter bees to get through the winter.
    Clint

    ------------------
    Clinton Bemrose
    just South of Lansing Michigan
    Beekeeping sence 1964

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