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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Accomac, Virginia
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    Angry Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    So, I ordered 4 packages from R. Weaver. The bees arrived Friday after shipping Monday and were cranky as I released them -- probably my fault. Fully suited-up, I got stung a number of times and my wife as well. I posted about this here, but my post seems to be lost with the forum update. Anyway, that's not important.

    The first day, I thought a queen had escaped. But this queen was unmarked, and apparently unclipped -- not what I ordered, but it's a minor mistake. I should have noticed. I have no doubt in my mind that the queen was a very good queen, but I lost it. I figured I'd found them when I saw a cluster of bees hanging on the back of the hive. I brushed them carefully into the hive and left it. Things seemed fine.

    Yesterday, I found a large swarm of bees on the ground. I knew it had to be one of the unclipped queens. They all few away, and I placed her back in the hive. This swarm was TWICE as big as any package I got, and TWO hives were empty. I think that initial queen HAD flown away and these two hives combined, and then swarmed. But they returned.

    Today, I was hoping that they'd all settled down, but no. Today it's worse. Now there's a combined swarm with 3 marked and clipped queens happily coexisting and 4 packages of bees. I really don't know what to do. The bees don't seem to have any sense of separate hives and I'm afraid if I separate all three queens, only one will be attended to -- namely, the one with all of the bees since they'd have no reason to seek out another.

    Currently there is a massive swarm hanging on a stacked hive, which I temporarily in hopes that they'd move in. They look something like this (this was the initial 4-package, 3-queen swarm before they returned to the stacked hive):

    It's been a nightmare.
    Last edited by Stewart Lundy; 04-12-2011 at 04:46 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Pinehurst, North Carolina, USA
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    Default Re: Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    I have never heard of someone having so much trouble hiving packages. And you say you and your wife were stung multiple times fully suited? I generally hive packages with NO protective clothing other than a long sleeve shirt and I rarely get stung once. Did you remember to spray them generously with 1:1 syrup before dumping them? If you didn't spray them down good you probably would have a lot of bees flying. This could be why they clustered on the ground: because they never made it into the hive. If they are still in a swarm cluster I would try to hive them in at least two hives. How you'll do that is beyond my imagination. Maybe hive them all in one then split once things have cooled down. You're probably going to need to purchase more queens though, as I'm sure all but one will eventually be killed.
    ...This, and my heart, and all the Bees
    Which in the Clover dwell.

  3. #3
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    Apr 2011
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    Accomac, Virginia
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    Default Re: Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    Quote Originally Posted by NCSUbeeKEEPER View Post
    If you didn't spray them down good you probably would have a lot of bees flying. This could be why they clustered on the ground: because they never made it into the hive.
    I think I wasn't clear: they ALL went into the hive the first day. Only days later did they swarm. There was no cluster on the ground the first couple days. They all made it into the hive. I found a queen in that cluster on the ground -- it was a swarm with a clipped queen.

    I'm going to hive them all in one and try to split it later.
    Last edited by Stewart Lundy; 04-12-2011 at 12:28 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Genesee County, Michigan
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    135

    Default Re: Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    Wow! What a sight. I'm sorry you're having so much trouble. I almost ordered my bees from R. Weaver, but decided on Spilles Honey, instead. Hopefully a more experienced beekeeper can help guide you on what to do about this. Good luck.

  5. #5
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    Apr 2011
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    Accomac, Virginia
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    26

    Default Re: Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    Here's the combined hive:

    What a headache. They've been fed, given water, had plenty of pollen (the hive is filling with pollen and they're all over trees and dandelions).

    Here's some of the comb they were making:
    Last edited by Stewart Lundy; 04-12-2011 at 12:42 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Suffolk, VA
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    2,735

    Default Re: Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    Really sorry to hear the problems you've seen. I'm sure I'll get flamed for this, but I recommend that people in non-AHB areas not buy packages or queens from known AHB areas.

    Regarding your situation:

    First of all, I'd call R Weaver and explain in detail what issues that you experienced. I too have NEVER seen aggressive bees in a package. Describe to Weaver the possibly of multiple queens that you observed. To get more into the reasons why this happened, I believe that we need more specifics on what you did.

    1) What did you install them on? Foundation, starter strips, etc?
    2) You said "I thought a queen had escaped" on the first day. What do you mean "escaped". She should have been caged at least for a few days.
    3) Did you do a direct release of the queens?
    4) Did you have sugar water on the bees?

    Need more details.....


    If there was a virgin or other mated queens in the package then you can get unpredictable results. Again, call the supplier and get them involved ASAP.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    Looks like popsicle starter strips. I have absolutely no experience installing packages on popsicle starter strips - I'll leave that to others to comment on this approach, but my gut response is that if there were other queens floating around and minimal resources, i.e., popsicle starter strips vs foundation then the incentive to stick around was compromised.

  8. #8
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    Apr 2011
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    Accomac, Virginia
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    Default Re: Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    1) Foundationless, but as you can see in the picture I uploaded, they were having no trouble.
    2 & 3) I direct-released the queen. Acceptance has not been an issue, obviously.
    4) I did not spray sugar water on the bees, which accounts for the initial stinging (no stinging has happened since then), but it does not account for anything else.

  9. #9
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    Feb 2011
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    Pinehurst, North Carolina, USA
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    Default Re: Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    Based on what you've just said I would say that you created a perfect storm in this case. Nothing you've done is necessarily bad, but just hear me out. First of all you are attempting to start them 100% foundationless. The presence of no drawn comb or foundation didn't help your cause in enticing them to stay. Most beeks who prefer a foundationless set up will actually start with every other frame containing foundation, and then just switch them out as time goes on. This will also help them draw out the foundationless combs more accurately. Secondly, you direct released your queen. Even if acceptance wasn't an issue, having the queen caged up for a few days would have kept them at bay long enough to probably accept their new home. You also probably wouldn't have lost a queen that way. These two elements could have accounted for your absconding. Lucky for you some of your queens were clipped or you could have lost a significant # of bees. However, with that said, I do not typically recommend clipping your queens.. just based on my personal experience.. but that's another topic.

    I'm sure others will give additional thoughts and opinions, but this is my take on it.
    ...This, and my heart, and all the Bees
    Which in the Clover dwell.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    Quote Originally Posted by Stewart Lundy View Post
    1) Foundationless, but as you can see in the picture I uploaded, they were having no trouble.
    You consider this as "no trouble". Hmmm.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stewart Lundy View Post
    2 & 3) I direct-released the queen. Acceptance has not been an issue, obviously.
    Acceptance is NOT the issue you're dealing with nor was it what I was trying to assess.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stewart Lundy View Post
    4) I did not spray sugar water on the bees, which accounts for the initial stinging (no stinging has happened since then), but it does not account for anything else.
    I've never sprayed bees with sugar water and have never seen agression in package bees. The fact is that they are usually pretty demoralized by the time we get them and are grateful for a new home.

  11. #11
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    Apr 2011
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    ElDorado,Arkansas,USA
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    Default Re: Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    Well I had this same problem back some 25 odd years ago.Leave the queen in here cage and dont let her out.Let the bees release her by eating out the candy.This would take several days and also give them syrup and they will start build comb and when she get out of her cage she wont have a reason to leave.Back when I had my problem back 25 years ago I released the queen in and package in a hive and then moved on to the next one.Did the same thing and moved on to the next.After the tenth package was installed I saw a swarm in a tree above the first hive.In a little while while I was wondering what was going on another one came up.Well that evening I had 10 out of 10 up high in the trees.That was 29 years ago and I have not done that since and I wont do it again!!!! I spanked my butt and sent myself home!!!!! and should of known better!!!!

  12. #12
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    Dec 2009
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    Blacksburg, VA
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    Default Re: Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    Sorry you are having so much trouble. It's not much fun when things get out of control.

    One thing that some beekeepers do is to put a queen excluder on the bottom board or cut one to go across the entrance. That will keep the queen from leaving even if the workers do. They will just go back in after issuing with no queen.

    I also think it would be best to leave the queen in the cage for a slower release. That keeps the workers in the hive and while they are there, they will build comb which will help keep them home.

    Good luck

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroBee View Post
    Acceptance is NOT the issue you're dealing with nor was it what I was trying to assess.
    (Didn't meant to say you were!)

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroBee View Post
    You consider this as "no trouble". Hmmm.
    What does "Hmmm" mean?

    R.Weaver gave me a call and was equally surprised. He's never had this happen, and he's had people install his bees every way imaginable. Richard Weaver was very helpful and accommodating. He's recommended what some of you have: do nothing and wait. Perhaps later this year, split the hives.

    To be fair to R.Weaver, the bees arrived healthy and immediately went to work. The hives are dusted yellow/orange from all the pollen they've been collecting. I think these bees are still fine.

    I think I may have just done what NCSUbeeKEEPER said:
    Quote Originally Posted by NCSUbeeKEEPER View Post
    Based on what you've just said I would say that you created a perfect storm in this case.
    Perhaps later, as some of you have suggested, I can split it. Right now they seem much calmer and I'm going to leave it.

    Quote Originally Posted by snapper1d View Post
    Well I had this same problem back some 25 odd years ago.Leave the queen in here cage and dont let her out.
    Trust me, after this experience, I will only be releasing queens the standard way.

    Quote Originally Posted by rkereid View Post
    One thing that some beekeepers do is to put a queen excluder on the bottom board or cut one to go across the entrance.
    I'm using top-entrance hives, so I can use a standard queen excluder on top, which I've done now. Whatever happens, at least now the queen(s) can't get out no matter how many times the workers try to swarm again.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    With several groups and their queens on the ground, it dosn't sound like queen acceptance was the problem. Sounds more like a common rejection of proffered quarters. (Abscond)

    Were those boxes recently painted? I know the bees don't like the smell of curing latex. Have not inquired about how long it takes latex to cure, but dry to the touch is not good enough.

    Walt
    Last edited by wcubed; 04-14-2011 at 01:20 AM. Reason: Addition

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    Quote Originally Posted by wcubed View Post
    Were those boxes recently painted? I know the bees don't like the smell of curing latex. Have not inquired about how long it takes latex to cure, but dry to the touch is not good enough.
    They were painted months ago, then stored in a clean room indoors.

  16. #16
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    Apr 2011
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    Anniston, Alabama
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    Default Re: Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    I have only been envolved in 5 package bee installations. I only wore a pair of sunglasses while doing the last 3. I have caught around 10 to 15 swarms in my life. I will wear my veil and gloves but that is it. I shook the last four out of the tree into a box with only one or two stings total. I always use foundation as a starter because this gives them a good reason to stay "in my opion". I've noticed that when you place a new swarm or package into a hive with foundation that some of the bees go straight to wax and start to work.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    Quote Originally Posted by hula681 View Post
    I only wore a pair of sunglasses while doing the last 3
    -Hopefully it was off back in the woods somewhere. Indecent exposure?


    Quote Originally Posted by hula681 View Post
    I will wear my veil and gloves but that is it.
    -What else is there?
    ...This, and my heart, and all the Bees
    Which in the Clover dwell.

  18. #18
    Join Date
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    St.Francis County, MO USA
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    Default Re: Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    Quote Originally Posted by NCSUbeeKEEPER View Post
    -Hopefully it was off back in the woods somewhere. Indecent exposure?




    -What else is there?
    Nude beekeeping on ESPN, harvest honey with only sunglasses the fastest and win. :P

  19. #19
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    Anniston, Alabama
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    Default Re: Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    LOL!!!

    socks and shoes optional

  20. #20
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    Charles Town, WV
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    Default Re: Bee Beginner: Day 5 Swarming

    Quote Originally Posted by Stewart Lundy View Post
    I'm using top-entrance hives, so I can use a standard queen excluder on top, which I've done now. Whatever happens, at least now the queen(s) can't get out no matter how many times the workers try to swarm again.
    Remember that your drones won't be able to leave then, either. They're gonna want to (need, really) and a lot may end up getting stuck in the excluder.

    Otherwise, I'm trying to follow what's happened. It's been very interesting. So you have the bulk of 4 packages, with possibly 3 queens in a single hive?

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