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Thread: Grumpy hive

  1. #1
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    Sep 2008
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    Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
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    Default Grumpy hive

    Our hive swarmed last week but we were unable to capture the swarm. For the last few days the bees have been gathering in large clumps all over the front of the hive and are pretty durn grouchy. They stay in these clumps all night and in bad weather and have chased me away on a couple of occasions. Before they swarmed they were fairly docile and friendly. We're curious if this is normal behavior post-swarm. If they stay this grumpy I'll have to re-queen. Thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Apr 2005
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    as a general rule (and ALL RULES are general when it come to the girls) the queen leaves with the swarm and queen cells remain, but there is no queen. in this time slot between swarming and the new queen emerging and then the new queen mating and then a bit more time before the new queen begins to lay the hive is and will behave in a manner of ALL queenless hives. the hive should be somewhat defensive and you should disturb it as little as possible. since you know when the hive swarmed you should be able to add about 3 weeks to this date to approximate the date in which the new queen should begin to lay. add about another week and you should see larvae. the best policy is not to disturb the hive until larvae are present. once larvae are present the hive typically return to it approximate nature prior to swarming.

    hope that helps...

  3. #3
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    Sep 2008
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    Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
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    That is exactly the info we were looking for! Thanks!

    Just a thought: what would happen if we were to introduce a new queen?

  4. #4
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    It is possible they are preparing for after swarms, since they are bunched up on outside in seperated clumps. How large are the clumps of bees? Only time will tell if this is so or not.

    Trying to introduce a queen at this time, they'll most likely kill her if they do have cells or virgin queen in the hive.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  5. #5
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    Generally they're in one big clump that's clustered around the hive entrance,sometimes in a long "beard". The clump last night was the width of the hive and extended from the entrance almost to the top of the second deep. It was somewhat irregular in shape and I'm guessing that there was 1.5 lbs of bees, maybe more. There were a lot of bees... What's an afterswarm? Sorry, we're newbies at beekeeping.

    Before the hive swarmed I looked in there and it was glaringly apparent that they were running out of room. So I took 5 frames with brood, bees and honey and put them in an empty hive along with a new queen in a cage. Then I replaced the removed frames in the original hive with empty frames and foundation. It was only 3 or 4 days after that that they swarmed. The new colony is doing just fine, there's brood and honey they've gone to work and they're mellow little critters. It's the original one that's acting weird.

    Thanks for your help!

  6. #6
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    Sounds like you had a good solidly packed hive there that swarmed.
    Sometimes they will swarm once, the main swarm, then they'll swarm again is the after swarm. Very strongly populated and crowded hives do this sometimes. They've made lots of swarm queen cells and since there is such population and crowding they'll swarm more than once. Sometimes they get into such a groove of swarming that they'll send out so many after swarms until there's nothing left at the original hive! This doesn't happen very often, but sometimes. How's the weather there where you're at in Utah? If it's fairly warm, then that could possibly be the cause of the bees on the outside.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  7. #7
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    Sep 2008
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    Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
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    Thanks for the reply RayMarler!

    The weather here is rainy, wet and cold. It's been a miserable spring... We had one week of real spring which is when the hive swarmed.

    I knew it was too crowded in there which is why I removed those frames. I haven't looked in the hive since, didn't see much point in it. But my curiosity itch is growing stronger and I want to see what's going on in there. Is there something I can do to prevent after swarms? With as grouchy as the colony is I don't really want to get too close.

    Rich

  8. #8
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    Once the bees are in swarming mode, as far along as yours are, it's just about impossible to stop it. It's up to you what to do about it. With them a bit angry, you may want to wait a week or two to look and see what's up. You could also go in now and see what's up and maybe remove another split out of it. I'm hesitant to say to do anything or not, same with you I bet, as we don't know what's going on inside. The one thing I usually lean towards is that if you are unsure, then don't do anything, as the bees can take care of themselves better than we can!
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  9. #9
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    ray writes:
    The one thing I usually lean towards is that if you are unsure, then don't do anything, as the bees can take care of themselves better than we can!

    tecumseh:
    I agree entirely. often time we over play our own importance in regards to the girls. so quite often "just lettin' it rest a spell is the best strategy for delin' with problems".

  10. #10
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    Sep 2008
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    Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
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    That sounds like good advice: the bees know how to take care of themselves better than we know how to take care of them... Sometimes I think they do well in spite of us instead of because of us. I think I'll do what you suggest: leave them alone for a few weeks and see if they mellow out. Thanks for your help.

    Rich

  11. #11
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    Jan 2009
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    collbran, co
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    well. what i would do lite my smoker really well um scared of bees not good.... suit up fully go take care of your problem.Remove frames and if queen cells are on more than one frame split if not destroy all but one queen cell u can also make cut outs if u know how. keep in mind if they swarm too much no honey loss of bees....time is the essence

  12. #12
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    Sep 2008
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    Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
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    Hive swarmed again! We managed to capture this swarm though and all seems well with the new one. We opened the old hive and there are still a lot of bees in there, complete with lots of brood and honey cells. I think it was so overloaded that in throwing off 2 swarms and a split it got the population down to where they're comfortable again. We'll see...

    Rich

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