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Thread: Swarms

  1. #1
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    May 2006
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    Rosedale, IN
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    Default Swarms

    In my area, (Indiana), there seems to be a large increase in swarms this year. What could be the reason for this? I have caught 5 swarms lately and am running out of equipment. I talked to Betterbee and they said everyone is saying there's more swarming this year. Any other opinions on this?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Western Illinois
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    Northwestern Illinois... I'm on my sixth swarm in two weeks. Sadly, most from mine. Seems like a lot to me! My son said if I mentioned swarms again he would scream. Just last night I was taking my evening stroll and sure enough there was another swarm. I rushed up to the house and told my husband, "Time to get your stuff... another swarm." As you are aware there is a lot of rain coming this way and so I figured I would have at least another day before I had to go into the two hives where I think the swarms are coming from.... 2 hours ago... another swarm. This time on a 4 inch branch 20 feet in the air. I couldn't get it by myself but did manage to climb the tree and place a baited nuc box. "Oh PLEASE come into my box!"

  3. #3
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    Nov 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by Parke County Queen View Post
    In my area, (Indiana), there seems to be a large increase in swarms this year. What could be the reason for this? I have caught 5 swarms lately and am running out of equipment. I talked to Betterbee and they said everyone is saying there's more swarming this year. Any other opinions on this?
    I think it's the weather. We had a really nice April and the bees really started to kick into high gear. Then we had a miserable cold and rainy May: lots of bored bees crowded in the boxes. I think it set off the big time swarming we are seeing this year.

    So you've caught 5 swarms - doesn't that just about replace your winter losses?

  4. #4
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    Western Pennsylvania
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    Quote Originally Posted by Parke County Queen View Post
    In my area, (Indiana), there seems to be a large increase in swarms this year. What could be the reason for this?
    IMO, it appears in my area to be a recovery of the feral population as the cause, due to the populations adaptations of sufficient resistance to varroa, TM ect. Considering a recovering feral population in a region might perhaps double every year. 50,000 feral colonies can become 800,000 in around 5 years. The number of calls last season, might be doubled as compared to this season. Even with all the calls beekeepers get, my opinion is that they are perhaps only catching 10% or less of what swarming is really taking place in the feral population.

    One must also consider the impact the internet has had. Many swarm call lists didn’t exist only a few years ago, and folks are turning to the internet more often to find beekeepers. I make sure to ask all referrals where they got my name.

    Due to the abundance of ferals, I now am charging for swarm removals, and getting higher prices for bee trees, house removals.

    Joe
    feralbeeproject.com

  5. #5
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    Jan 2003
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    Suffolk, VA
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    Default

    It was a very swarmy year for us too. I thought it had to do with the exceptionally mild winter. I didn't loose a single hive - not even a nuc. However, my theory may not hold if people outside my area are also seeing an unusually large number of swarms this year.
    Last edited by AstroBee; 06-13-2008 at 09:56 AM.

  6. #6
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    Oct 2003
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    Bainbridge, Indiana USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Parke County Queen View Post
    In my area, (Indiana), there seems to be a large increase in swarms this year. What could be the reason for this? I have caught 5 swarms lately and am running out of equipment. I talked to Betterbee and they said everyone is saying there's more swarming this year. Any other opinions on this?
    I'm just east of you in Putnam County, and have seen a large number of swarms from my hives.
    I'm currently working in eastern Hendricks county, and have seen several swarms there also.
    Maybe the Bee's know somthing we don't!!!!!!
    Last edited by jgd; 06-13-2008 at 11:16 AM. Reason: missed placed county

  7. #7
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    Feb 2005
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    Minnesota
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    Most of the swarming I am hearing about is coming from "managed" hives. er, maybe "not-so-managed" hives. Not sure why. More new, inexperienced beekeepers this year who haven't yet learned how fast the bees can build up? Or, maybe weird weather is just causing the bees to build up faster than is usual? I know we are having some strange weather this spring.

  8. #8
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    Jul 2004
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    Des Plaines, IL
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    I second EKW's notion even though it appears somewhat counter intuitive. If the bees have enough honey stores left from a mild winter, collected enough pollen in April and expereinced bad flying weather in May, it may drive something. If the May weather isn't too cold for brood rearing, the foragers-to-be appear to just work from home. There are no envelopes to lick or mailings to stuff, no computer work or phone bank to manage though. The forager's home work assignments can be centered around raising more brood. I don't know exactly what percent of bees would generally be foragers in May but let's say it is 25%. If 25% of the foragers can't go to work due to bad weather it may mean a 25% or even faster build up of brood numbers. A weather related extension of the worker bees juvenile period may also have something to do with their added desire and ability to swarm.

    It would be a cool research project to look at the vitellogenin and juvenile hormone titers in worker bees this year as compared to other years. It would not surprise me if a correlation could be found between the titers and swarming tendency.
    5-8 hives

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by EKW View Post
    Most of the swarming I am hearing about is coming from "managed" hives. er, maybe "not-so-managed" hives. Not sure why. More new, inexperienced beekeepers
    It’s perhaps simply the internet phenomenon. I see often folks stating they “refuse 6 swarm calls per day”. Well, I would hazard to protest that if you want to count swarm calls from places you would never intend to travel to, then why count it as a refusal?

    300 beekeepers claiming their bees are swarming, all over the world makes NOT a swarmy season, but will give the elusion of one.

    Not sure why there is more swarming? Well one thing is different,,,,, the advent of the Russian bees popularity.
    YES! I know,,,, ‘that’s not been your experience with Russians’!!!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by shoefly View Post
    If 25% of the foragers can't go to work due to bad weather it may mean a 25% or even faster build up of brood numbers. .
    Perhaps this might be true with Russian bees which are known to swarm throughout long periods of wet weather. But I would suspect that the likelihood is higher for any hindrance of foraging activity prior to swarm season to serve as a hindrance to brood rearing rather than serving any great beneficial effect.

    Joe

  11. #11
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    Jul 2004
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    Des Plaines, IL
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    Naturebee
    Yes, I think you are right about a brood limiting factor when the bees have to tightly cluster due to low temperatures. If the temperatures remain in the fifties and sixties though and the bees can't fly due to drizzly weather it may mean that the bees especailly with all the forageres at home can keep a large brood area warm. The queen can still expand the brood area, don't you think?
    5-8 hives

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Rosedale, IN
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    Indypartridge -

    Yes, replaced my losses plus had some nucs on order. Now up to 8 hives. One of the swarms didn't like their new digs & left.

    Three of the swarms I got came from a friend's hives. He even made splits and reversed, but they still swarmed. Two of the swarm calls came from Beesource info. The last one was in the middle of a cornfield on a fence post and the farmer called me. Oddly, I had been teaching his 12 year old daughter the day before. He went out to check his fields and found it. I will post it in photos later.

    It's interesting to think of where the swarm came from. Seems so odd to see them in the middle of a field with nothing else around.

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