Swarm Traps as Indicators Before a Swarm?
We’ve had a very wet June with no end in sight. Most of my hives are booming, so I figure that, once the weather breaks, swarming will be a distinct possibility. I don’t have much experience with swarms, not so much, I’m sure, to any beekeeping skills, but more a result of not being around to see them and not realizing a hive had swarmed. Saw my first one earlier this spring, when one colony stubbornly refused to move up into the third deep brood box and swarmed instead (they have since moved up, duh). By coincidence, the day of the swarm, I set out a couple of my 5-frame nucs as swarm traps. Again, this is something I have never done before. The nucs have some drawn frames and lemongrass oil. That day and for a couple of days thereafter I saw a lot of scout bees in and around the swarm traps/nucs. But, it was too late. The swarm, which was 30 – 40 feet up in a tree, moved on that same day to parts unknown. Since then, there has been no bee activity around the swarm traps.
So, my question is, if/when the weather breaks, if I suddenly start to see scout activity around the traps, is that an indicator that a hive is about to swarm? Or, does it mean a colony - mine, someone else’s or feral - has already swarmed and is sitting in a tree somewhere? I guess what I am asking is, do scouts reconnoiter possible home sites BEFORE the colony swarms, or only after? From what I have read, it sounds like the scouts head out after the swarm has left the parent colony. If so, then my traps will not be indicators of swarming, only indicators of a swarm in the area. On the other hand, if the scouts actually head out pre-swarm, then activity at the traps could be an alert to be on the lookout for a swarm.
Sure, I could go into the hives and check for swarm cells, but I try to avoid mucking around in the brood area after the spring cleaning, unless I have to requeen, or have some other reason to dig around in there.
“If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive.” - Dale Carnegie