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Thread: Swarm questions

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    363

    Default Swarm questions

    Questions below (for those w/ limited time) and some background info that may help explain where I am at.

    My first hive, 1yr old, swarmed on Friday. It was my first hive in a warre started last April. Needles to say, I didn't have a comparison and thought the winter cluster was a little small so I ordered back up packages--1 w/ a queen and one w/out. The queened package and half the other package started hive 2 (Hive 1 obviously survived) and I added the other half package to hive 1. The warre has windows so I can peak in and two days after adding bees I found 2 queen cups--so I know there were more. When one got built out to a queen cell I ordered a lang hive just in case.

    I added bottom boxes in March so they had plenty of room to move down, just didn't want to start building in the third box. If I could move frames I would have checker boarded or moved some brood down to free up space. So I ordered the lang hoping they wouldn't swarm. Low and behold, the day I got the lang (while unpacking it, in fact) they swarmed. They started clustering 20 ft up a holly tree just over my fence. As I was setting out bait boxes w/ lemongrass and wax I found a cluster of bees on the ground. Moved these into the lang and found the (a) queen on the ground. Put her in too. She left once but stayed on the second placement when the bees started scenting and attracting some of the flying bees. This all happened around 1700 to 1800 in the evening. By night I had a cluster of about 1-2k bees in the lang and another cluster still on the holly tree--and they are still there tonight. Think some went back to the parent hive as some of the honey stores that disappeared the day before the swarm was back that evening (from what I could see on the window).

    Now the questions:

    The bees are still in the lang and I don't want to disturb by peeking in but some of the scouts from the tree cluster may have drifted in--a lot of activity at the entrance all day w/ more going in than out from what I can tell (or hope).

    1. What is the probability that the tree cluster will join the queened cluster in the hive?
    2. What is the probability that there is another queen in the tree cluster? Was cold the last two nights and they got rained on last night--tough little girls.
    --Not sure if I got the old queen or a virgin. Didn't take the time to examine her wing margins and thoracic setae (hairs) as she was trying to fly away.
    3. What is the probability of the small cluster in the lang being able to build up enough to survive winter starting w/ 1-2k bees?
    4. Should I add more bees? Don't have any frames I could add and don't know any beeks--though the UPS guy gave me an address of a person he delivers hives too just down the street (not sure that is legal). If hive 1 weren't so strong, and heavy, I would swap places so the foragers could populate the lang. Thoughts?
    5. Was thinking of adding a box in between the two warre brood boxes to try to prevent any afterswarms--don't have the room for anymore bees in my yard. Any thoughts on if this is a good idea? I worry that comb would be built in two directions and not straight causing collapse when I go to remove boxes for winter (assuming the brood nest moves down like it is supposed to).


    My second hive is a warre also but I think I discovered their disadvantage RE: swarm management--I've had no disease or mite issues yet though 1 yr is not a good sample size. With this lang I am going to try to adapt it w/ a quilt box and vented roof--this is why I liked the warre to begin with.

    Thanks for any info/opinions and any general comments outside the queries appreciated also.

    Jeff

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    363

    Default Re: Swarm questions

    Well, the cluster in the tree left today so I'm guessing there was a queen in there. The portion I caught seems to be drawing comb in the middle of two or three frames (as guesstimated by the wax flakes found on the IPM board insert. Bringing in a little pollen too so I guess they are okay. Will open up in another week to see how they are doing.

    Its a shame to see the 5000-8000 bees leave but hopefully I added some good genes to the population here. We'll see how the one or two thousand I caught can do (if the nectar flow continues like it has they should have no problem building up).

    Saw the new queen in the old hive as well--bright eyed and bushy tailed. Abdomen a little distended so I presume she just finished mating activities. Only see one queen cup (but who knows what is in the middle). If there are after swarms maybe I can get one to plus up the lang--newspaper split? Decided not to insert an empty box in between the brood nest boxes. I'll just watch what happens and adapt next year. The population seems as though a swarm never happened but now half the bees are hanging in the third box (so they may be drawing comb) and there is plenty of space up stairs for bees--w/ honey in every corner.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,505

    Default Re: Swarm questions

    You have just discovered why the Langstroth hive is so greatly preferred (in all it's various forms). Easy to inspect, you can add boxes or do splits at will, and can move individual frames around any time.

    There was certainly a queen in the swarm that left, otherwise they would not have clustered on the branch. Too bad you didn't have a spare box -- which is why I'm building my fith nuc box and base tonight, I have two already out and a third going to a friend to carry with him to catch swarms. Just missed a nice one yesterday morning, it was gone before he got there.

    Peter
    Last edited by psfred; 05-03-2012 at 09:35 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    363

    Default Re: Swarm questions

    I got a satellite w/ the old queen (I presume) on the ground--only 1-2k bees. I'm still concerned they may swarm again. The box below the brood is full of bees and the one below that is half full. Still don't think they started drawing new comb and the top two boxes are bursting w/ honey now so I'm not sure the new queen has a spot to lay. Also, thought I heard some piping this evening (only heard on internet recording before but 85% confidant).

    Would it be worth dumping a box of bees into a bucket and transferring to my new lang w/ the softball swarm? I am guessing I would still need to do the newspaper thing I've seen around the web for a combine?

    If they swarm again I am definitely switching everything over to all langs. Frustrating to know what I need to do but not being able to do it. I'm just happy I read them right being the start of my second year--books can only get you so far.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    363

    Default Re: Swarm questions

    Well, Lots of piping in the hive today and the honey started disappearing so I emptied the box of staging bees into a bucket then into my new lang w/ the small cluster--probably 12-15k bees easily, huge! I hope this stops their urge to swarm more.

    Small cluster hive had six inch strips of comb drawn on three bars. Was nectar or an egg in every cell--didn't see queen but eggs in the middle of the cells.

    Q: A few cells in every frame looked like they had fungus in the same general area--greenish brown/black color inside the cells (one or two had an egg on top). I'm guessing this is due to lack of bees to tend cells and evaporate nectar quick enough? Will the new 12-15k bees I added clean this up? Anybody seen this before? Didn't look like there were hyphae or anything, just like packed mildew in the cells.

    Thanks

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    363

    Default Re: Swarm questions

    Well, two more large swarms (which found homes immediately) and a baseball size swarm later I think they are finally done. Started capping honey like crazy from what I can see so I'm guessing they switched from carefree reproductive mode to putting up stores for winter mode. Looks like they should still easily provide a box of honey for me barring a summer drought.

    Going to move them into a lang--somehow. Think we're all good now.

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