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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Stevenson, Washington, USA
    Posts
    181

    Default My First Swarm - Need Advice ASAP

    Ok, I posted a few questions about a swarm here: http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=242280

    I got some great responses, thanks a million!

    I went to a lady's house today, and sure enough, up in their walnut tree, on a branch, was a swarm about 15inX4inX5in. I was able to ladder up and sweep them into a bucket, and transfered them to a western super filled with drawn comb, spritzed with syrup. I did one sweep, got most of them, and then about ten minutes later, a smaller sweep of those who had regrouped on the limb.

    I closed up the top of the hive, and left the entry open. The mass of bees who were in the box stayed, but there werent really anymore who followed in. (pretty cool day, raining).

    So in poking around, I found a hole in the trunk, about twenty feet up, which had bees issuing forth. Homeowner says that three years ago, a huge swarm landed on the tree, and they've been in the hole since. She says that this is the second or third swarm this year, so I gather that this is an "Afterswarm"?

    While the box was sitting on the roof, I noticed that one single bee (larger) came out the entrance and was running around on the roof. Fearing this might be the queen I picked her up on my brush and put her back in between the frames.



    THREE BIG QUESTIONS:
    1. If this is an afterswarm, do I have a queen, and is she a virgin? If so, how will she mate? Are there drones in an afterswarm capable of mating?

    2. I put the western in an abandoned house, poking out a southern window (to keep the bears off it), in a rural valley with about 40 acres of soon-to-bloom blackberry. I put a foundation-only deep on top of the western, foundation was sprayed with syrup, and added two entry feeders (I will go back tomorrow and replace the migratory cover with an inner/top feeder/cover - I just didn't have it with me.) WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO DO?

    3. This colony in the lady's yard seems like a gold mine to me - should I put a box up in her tree to see what I catch? What should I put in the box?

    I only have one other hive - a nuc I got on May 5th, which I just added the second deep brood box to - so my resources (frames with fresh brood/honey/etc. are limited)

    This is a huge post, but I hope you all stuck it out, and can give me some good info!

    AN

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Stevenson, Washington, USA
    Posts
    181

    Default Re: My First Swarm - Need Advice ASAP

    Ba-bump!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    powell wy
    Posts
    103

    Default Re: My First Swarm - Need Advice ASAP

    hi Nichols747
    well it sounds like you have a good handle on things so far. now begins the wait and see portion of the program. you might consider giving the new girls some feed to help them get their comb built while waiting for the black berrys to kick into high gear.
    it might be pure speculation on my part but i suspect the larger bee you discovered later and put in the hive was simply a drone. was he quite a bit larger with a rounded butt ?? if so then thats what you had found.
    i also suspect that IF this is an after swarm it was with a virgin queen. IF thats the case it will be fine as she obviously comes from good survivor stock which is always a plus. also as long as the lady is fine with them living in the tree use them as a source to build up your bee yard. remember as well that even thou you are short of hive bodies right now, you can use some of your honey money from this fall to get ready for next years swarms by buying/making more hives.and letting an occasional swarm escape into the wild is still ok, you dont haft to capture every one .
    as far as putting a bait hive in the tree, sure go for it, although it sounds like you may have got the last of the swarms that would come from the original hive. But you just never know they may cast one more even if it is a small one. as far as what to put in it do the old comb and lemmon grass oil trick with just a dash honey wiped around inside. oh yea, and keep your fingers crossed, that always helps

    p.s. just as an after thought, you may want to not set the hive directly in the sun behind glass in the abandoned house, it could turn into quite an oven and over heat it. you know the layout better than i thou and can judge for yourself.

    good luck and don't break your neck, remember, this is supposed to be fun

    beebiker

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Lee\'s Summit, MO
    Posts
    1,323

    Default Re: My First Swarm - Need Advice ASAP

    1. I'd bet it's a virgin queen. Wait a week or so before you look for brood. Counting bee's carrying pollen (over 10 a minute) is a great way to tell if they are tending brood without disturbing the hive prematurely.

    2. Nothing, it sounds like you're doing fine. For future reference, I put a frame of brood in a swarm to make sure the hive won't leave again and to give them a population boost before their first brood cycle starts emerging. Little depresses like losing a swarm that you've put effort and resources into hiving only to lose them when they re-issue. The brood keeps them from even considering leaving.

    3. Empty drawn comb (the older the better) works the best to draw swarms in. If you don't have any of that, at the very least put 3 to 5 drops of lemon grass oil in there, "natural" related stores have it +/- $5. The two combined work the best though. In a pinch, some folks use lemon pledge but I've had no luck with it though.

    Keep in mind this is my opinion, it may be worth exactly what you paid for it.
    Ninja, is not in the dictionary. Well played Ninja's, well played...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Stevenson, Washington, USA
    Posts
    181

    Default Re: My First Swarm - Need Advice ASAP

    Thanks so much for the input!

    I went out to the site this afternoon, and they are still there! They hadn't touched the entrance feeders, and I changed them out for a top-feeder. They were up in the deep (empty foundation, set on top of the western full of drawn comb. there was a little tinge of comb in on the foundation!

    I have an entrance reducer on, and made a little wax plug that reduces it further to the size of two or three bees. They were coming and going, one every ten seconds or so. A few were bringing in pollen, most were empty. They seem to be pretty clumsy? They just werent as agile as my established hive.

    Plan now is to just leave them bee, and keep the feeder full for a week or so, then take a quick look for eggs?

    Thanks again for the advice, hopefully they stay home now!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Malabar, FL
    Posts
    1,268

    Default Re: My First Swarm - Need Advice ASAP

    bear in mind with a virgin a week may not be enough time before you see eggs, if you dont have them in a week check back again @ 10-14 days.
    A government large enough to provide everything you need is strong enough to take everything you have. T. Jefferson

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Stevenson, Washington, USA
    Posts
    181

    Default Re: My First Swarm - Need Advice ASAP

    So, if no eggs at one week, check back two weeks later (at 21 days since hiving them), so she has time to begin laying? If no eggs at three weeks, should I buy a new queen? If I do that, we are talking 6 weeks from now before they are mature and foraging, correct? Won't most of the hive have died by then? I'll be optimistic for now!
    Thanks!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Cloud County, Kansas, USA
    Posts
    204

    Default Re: My First Swarm - Need Advice ASAP

    If it were my swarm, I would put a frame with eggs into the hive. That way if you didn't get the queen or something happens to her, they will have the resources to make a new one.

    Congratulations though, It's always nice to capture a swarm!!

    BB

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Stevenson, Washington, USA
    Posts
    181

    Default Re: My First Swarm - Need Advice ASAP

    So it's only been six days since they were installed in their new home, but with the approaching monsoon weather, I wanted to get a quick look.

    1. No eggs - they are drawing comb and putting in some nectar/syrup, and some pollen (not a lot). They are drawing on two frames - no records being set, but they are working.

    2. They are flying in larger numbers - I left the entrance reducer, but pulled out the beeswax "gate" since they were tearing it down, and there appeared to be a traffic jam at the door.

    3. They are completely ignoring the western super of drawn comb that I collected and transported them in. They appear to be climbing up it and drawing comb in the deep, rather than repairing or finishing the comb in the western.

    Plan:
    Leave it be for a week. Weather is supposed to improve in three or four days, which is about the time the blackberries should be blooming. In one to two weeks, do an extensive check for eggs, if none, then I have to decide how to proceed.

    Options at that point as I see them:
    Buy a queen, if I can, and requeen the hive (Will there be enough bees left to survive and build up two deeps to last the winter?)

    Let them work until they die, drawing comb and packing in stores that will save work for a nuc or package next year (don't really like this idea, but might be the most survivable option through to next year.

    Combine them with my other, strong hive

    Go try to trap some more bees from the big colony-in-a-tree that the swarm came from? Will they accept the new bees from the old place?

    Thanks for any input!

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