Hi everybody. I have two questions. Question one....Is it possible that one of my hives swarmed ? I have four hives all started from 3# packages the last week of april. The hives are in two deeps and started with 6 frames of drawn comb and 14 frames of foundation. There is a swarm about 50 feet in a tree about 25 feet from my hives. I have not been in the hives, thanks to all the rain, in about 2 weeks but looking at the entrance there has been no reduction in population. Question two...is there a chance of catching this swarm in a empty hive with foundation in it ?
Yes, it is possible that they swarmed. You may not notice from the outside. I would try to inspect the other hives ASAP, because they could all be in the same shape.
I don't know about foundation, if it is drawn perhaps, but they are less likely to go to undrawn foundation. You could try swarm lure, or at least wax coated foundation.
It's always possible that a hive swarmed from April until August or September. Look inside. Tip each box back and look on the bottom bars. If you find several queen cells hanging down that are already finished and ucapped (cap cut around the end by the queen) then they probably swarmed. If you find several that are still capped then they are about to swarm.
If you want to catch a swarm that comes later (if that one swarmed it's long gone) with a box with only foundation, (drawn comb in an old used box is better) then you'll need something for lure. Lemongrass oil is good. Swarm lure, available from Brushy Mt. and Mann Lake will work sometimes.
Well fellow NY'er. Starting last week of May till around second week of June is our swarm season here. Did you get packages from Betterbee ? You may wish to consider the technique of baiting up that I use in this neck of the woods it took me 10- 15 years to develpoe a system and fine tune that works and has eliminated swarming to about 2%. Check the other hives as they may be ready to swarm too. How are hives setup? Look and see if the top broodbox is filling in with honey and binding the bees to some degree this usually is the case. Or sometime the bees are in a rut and they didn't expand properly, the flow hits then congestion set in ...........bees in the trees.
Be extremely careful on your quest to find queen cells. Lifting boxes and individual frames can rip apart queen cells, especially if between boxes. I've had hives that only produced 3-5 cells and I've ripped them all in lifting a box off.
Sometimes if you can't notice from the entrance which hive swarmed, you can sometimes tell once the top and inner cover is off.
Bees will also start hanging out prior to swarming. Not just in the evening which is normal, but all day long. This is good way to see a swarm coming. A big decrease in collecting and bees flying in and out will occur a day prior to swarming. No golden rule in beekeeping though.
[This message has been edited by BjornBee (edited June 24, 2003).]
I agree with Bjorn. If they've swarmed the new queen may not have hatched. If you accidently or on purpose destroy all the queen cells you may end up with a queenless hive. I like tipping the box forward and looking on the bottom for cells because I'm less likely to break the cell pulling the frame up. The other thing that could happen is there could be a lot of swarm cells and there could be afterswarms. Then you keep getting swarms from the same hive. Isn't this fun!
I think you have to accept that if you keep bees some of them will swarm. You need to take what precautions you can, but don't freak out when they do. It's one of those things bees do.
I think Clayton is right on the fact that it's not usually lack of super space that causes swarming, it's congested brood space.
Yep. Just as said above. Never cut down capped queen cells unless you've seen the queen in the hive. If you must cut, do so before the cells are capped and with some luck and opening up you can reduce the chance of the swarm issuing. But not always. I prefer to remove the old queen in a split if possible and cut down most cells choosing the best ones so as not to encourage any sub swarms. As for damaging cells when inspecting colonies, it is pretty rare that I do this but maybe from all those years I'm pretty steady. I can pretty much pull frames from anywhere without fear of destroying cells or rolling queens.
I've only kept a few hives, but I've kept them over a lot of years (3 decades) and I destroyed a queen cell a few weeks ago in a split when I was checking to make sure they had one. They did until I destroyed it. It was sticking out far enough to catch on the frame next to it. I should have slid them over to make room but I have a mixture of permacomb and wax foundation and I have a spacer in place. It's very easy to do.