They swarmed. I caught them. Now what?
One of my hives swarmed today landing on a nearby tree. To a newbee this was a pretty awesome sight. I didn't have an extra deep or a bottom board to house them in so I made a bottom board quick and topped it with a medium super. I placed this unit under the tree and gave it a good hard shake. About half of the bees landed on the hive and began crawling in. I came back about an hour later and they had filled the entire super with many more bees on the tree. At this point I added another medium super. Another couple hours later they were all in.
So now I have two mediums full of bees and a queen (I saw her go in). I can't afford to buy any more equipment this year but would like to use the bees to my benefit some how. I assume I can't just put them back where they came from? This seems too simple to be true.
The hive they came out of was overflowing with bees and still has many bees in it. The top deep is 95% full of capped honey. The small brood area in this deep has 4 remaining queen cells and one recently emptied queen cells. The bottom deep has no eggs as of yet with a reasonable amount of capped brood. I would say 75% of this bottom box is being used as a brood nest with the remaining 25% being used for nectar. There is a honey super on this hive which is about half full now. I was about 65% full and mostly capped. However in preparation to swarm they uncapped a good portion of it and took it with them or moved it. Today I also noticed there were more drones than I have ever seen flying in and out of the hive with many more on the ground around the hive. About every fifth bee coming and going was a drone. Were they mating with the new queen?
I have three other hives as well. Two are doing excellent with one super of capped honey and a second in the process of being drawn out. The other hive has either swarmed or is going to swarm real soon. I didn't have time to investigate further, as that was about the time I noticed the tree bearded with bees.
What should I do with these bees? I assume one of these hives can benefit from them some how. Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated
Keep them in the mediums for now, give the "parent" hive time to raise and mate a queen and if they don't succeed, combine.
No matter what, you should get two mediums of beautiful comb!
How long should I wait to determine if they have raised a queen. There were five queen cells in this hive. One of the four was empty. After the new queen has hatched how long does it take for here to mate and begin laying?
I have reason to believe one of my other hives has recently swarmed without me knowing. Is there anyway I could add these bees to this hive?
The hive that swarmed, steal a frame of brood/eggs and food from another strong hive to give to them. This will give them a reason to stay. Otherwise they might take off. The eggs will give them a chance to raise a queen if the swarm queen did not make it (mark that frame when it goes in, so you can quick check without ripping it apart). Check in 7 days to see if there is a queen cell starting.
If your parent hive has an open queen cell, like a can openner took the end off, she is probably in there somewhere. Unless she left with the bees you caught.
I would destroy all the queen cells in the hive, and insert a frame of eggs (mark the frame) and wait. If you do not knock down the QC, you will have several after swarms, not pretty. After a couple of days the hive should quiet down if there is a queen in there. Do not disturb the hive to much because they might ball the queen. Check again in 7 days to see if there are queen cells forming on the frame you gave them. If not, and they are quiet, they have a queen. Start sifting through the hive for eggs in a few days. (day 14-16 after the swarm) by this time she should be mated and laying eggs...depending on the weather.
if you combine two hives without knowing forsure there is a queen or not you just started a war and could loose one or both queens. If you have the time bofor the fall wait it out. If after 21 days there are no eggs, then a good chance there is no queen and combine the hives with newspaper.
Last edited by honeyshack; 08-04-2008 at 09:53 PM.
Reason: adding to the post
The swarm has a queen, I saw her go into the super with the rest of the bees. The problem with this plan is they are in med supers as that is the only equipment that isn't in use. So there is no way to add frames of egg and brood. I could place a frame of honey in the supers if that would entice them to stay. Being this is my first year I do not have the equipment to accomodate a new hive at this point. So I guess the question is this. Are these bees of any use to my existing hives or not? Is there a way to combine them with there original hive or any other?
I was thinking I could remove the additional swarm cells in their original hive, find and kill the queen I have reason to believe has hatched, then combine them in a few days. Will this work? I really don't want the swarm to start raising brood in my supers I may need for honey if the flow continues.
If this will in no way work please tell me. I will give the swarm away or release them.
You can make a hive if you have some boards to work with. Might even find some where they are building a house or something... then you can use the supers on top. They will need food for winter.
In the future, just as a quick tip. I you want a fast and easy way to catch a swarm. Go back to your yard, find a frame of brood (capped and open). Shake off all the bees and move it towards the swarm. AS SOON as the swarm notices it, they will immediately move towards the frame to cover and protect the brood. This is an instinctual response. My family and I have used this method several times to get swarms out of high area like up in tree branches. We setup a rack that the frame fits on and the attachment fits onto the end of our swimming pool pole. We can extend it pretty far out and it works great.
Originally Posted by honeyshack
You can always pinch a queen and combine.
If you have enough capped frames to extract now, that would free up some equipment so that you might keep this swarm as another hive. You might also purchase or build another box with frames for additional equipment.
You said you suspect that hive #2 may have swarmed too. Do you know whether or not the #2 is queenright?
If I were in your situation, and they are queenright here is what I would do:
Take all 10 frames from the swarmed hive and inspect. Sweep off all bees and cut off any queen cells, then place the empty box of brood frames on the other hive. All of that brood will boost them up as they move forward. There are no bees, so no fighting.
Take the swarm and those med supers and put it back in the original place. That hive has a queen, and a large field force, they will rebound quickly too.
If they are not queenright in the #2, then don't cut the queen cells. They will either already have a queen underway, or you'll be giving them another opportunity.
If a nectar flow is not underway, consider feeding them both for a while to help #1 draw wax and #2 to feed all that brood.
Let us know what you decide to do and how it works out.
I would not cut queen cells! The fact that four were left suggests the open one did not yield a live virgin, or she left with a swarm. Or they're duds, either way it won't hurt to leave them.
The swarm in the mediums, I would just leave alone and check for eggs/brood in a week or so. They'll probably go gangbusters.
The parent hive is a little trickier, capped queen cells could mean up to three weeks or so before a laying queen. Probably less.
I would do whatever I could to keep them and get some more supers if necessary. If you pinch a good queen, you'll probably need one next week It's called karma
Thanks for all the input guys. But the problem has already solved itself. The swarm left the supers and headed to who knows where just before sundown. I wasn't there to see where they went but couldn't see them anywhere in the 10 acre tree field.
The funny thing is I had decided to do anything in my power to keep them, no matter the cost. So early this morning I ordered four more supers, four more deeps, two bottom boards and two covers. I figured a little extra is always good!
I was really looking forward to adding another hive to my bee yard. At least I gained some valuable experience. I'll be ready for em next time.