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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Wakefield, MA, USA
    Posts
    224

    Question Weird swarm, dying

    Got a call for an easily accessible swarm on the porch of a suburban home a couple of days ago. It was the largest swarm I've ever encountered. Massive. They had already started building a few palm sized combs under a small bench and against the house wall.

    I set up a hive, two deep, including a comb of honey/pollen, and they started going in, and I saw the queen. I picked her up and ushered her to the entrance. The bees were rather slow in entering, and sluggish.

    Then I noticed that there were a lot of crawling and dying bees scattered across the porch. Something odd was going on. I asked the homeowner if anyone had sprayed them, and she said no.

    Anyway, I went and picked up the hive to take to the home yard early this AM. There were more dead and crawling bees around the porch, and a few small clusters of bees that could barely move at all.

    I set up the hive in the yard and let them settle down. When I checked them this afternoon there was a pile of dead and dying bees out front, maybe equivalent to 1-2 pounds in a package, and dozens scooting around and spinning, unable to fly, in the grass. I opened the hive and the bees were very sluggish, many falling off the combs and crawling all over the ground, unable to fly, or curled up and dying. There were more, seemingly half dead, in clumps on the walls or floor I didn't see the queen on this inspection, so figure she is in the pile of dead bees.

    It's quite a waste, and a shame they are dying off like this but I wish I knew why. I never seen anything like it.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    North Tazewell, Virginia
    Posts
    345

    Default Re: Weird swarm, dying

    The best thing you can do is gather 200 bees and send them to the bees lab and they will send you the info. of their results.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    976

    Default Re: Weird swarm, dying

    Believe it or not, sometimes when you ask people if they have sprayed a swarm, they do not tell the truth.
    Particularly if they sprayed them out of fear, they may be concerned that if you know that they have been poisoned, you won't take those scary bees away.
    I'm not saying that is what happened here,but I would not be surprised if it has.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Rogersville, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    68

    Default Re: Weird swarm, dying

    As Dr. House would say... Patents never tell the truth! Well, neither do homeowners.

    Those bees got sprayed, I don't care what that homeowner said. If they are dying in mass like you state there is very little other explanation.

    I have showed up to collect a swarm and had the homeowner tell me "You know it's illegal to kill honeybees, so we would never try to do that." Then you look over to the hole in the wall at the hive in the house that the swarm came from and sitting next to it on the porch is a can of RAID. What the heck were you using that for then???

    Went to get a swarm week before last, guy talks to me all about how he wanted to save the bees, so glad I answered when he called, blah, blah blah... Get to the house find all this white crap on the ground around the swarm, his girlfriend tells me that before he called, he tried to "smoke" them off the bush with a fire extinguisher. What the heck? Those were some mean bees!!! Had to suit up then got stung, through the suit and my jeans over 12 times. When my wife cleaned my bee suit she said she counted over 50 stingers in each glove.

    So, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER trust a homeowner with a swarm or hive... they LIE!!!

    Good luck with your new girls hope that some of them make it. Unfortunately, my suggestion is if they don't stop dying off... let them go, don't try to boost them or anything because you will likely kill the bees that you add to them as well.

    That really is unfortunate,
    Jeff - like me on facebook
    See my bees @ www.ozarkshoney.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Warrior, Alabama
    Posts
    1,073

    Default Re: Weird swarm, dying

    They just contaminated your box to. wash it out with water and set it in the sun for acouple of days.
    Old Guy in Alabama

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Hampton CT
    Posts
    360

    Default Re: Weird swarm, dying

    Another thought. Are they starving? Not much nectar flow here in Eastern CT. Not sure about Wakefield Mass. It could also be poison, but swarms often starve out if they leave during a dearth in the nectar flow.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Wakefield, MA, USA
    Posts
    224

    Default Re: Weird swarm, dying

    Quote Originally Posted by adam@azapiaries View Post
    Another thought. Are they starving? Not much nectar flow here in Eastern CT. Not sure about Wakefield Mass. It could also be poison, but swarms often starve out if they leave during a dearth in the nectar flow.
    There has a light to moderate flow during this time, I think, from black locust and clover, at least when they first swarmed. Now I have robbers surrounding the edges of my feeders, so I'd say there is a dearth! The small combs they had built were empty, and the comb of honey I had given them was cleaned out dry on the edges within a couple of days. In fact, the bees were lined up on the old capped honey on that comb, digging into it, almost as if they were starving. Who knows....

    I have a jar of syrup on them now, but they aren't taking much. I opened the lid briefly and the cluster is down to two combs, and some bees were "scooting" across the top bars, maybe trying to fly.

    The bees don't have dry, active appearance to them, just dark, maybe a bit greasy looking and lethargic.

    If they were directly sprayed or poisoned I think there would have been heaps of dead bees when I first saw the swarm. There weren't, but there were scattered dead bees and crawling bees scattered out here and there out across the house porch. After a day or two I saw more like piles and heaps of dead bees, first handfuls and then double handfuls. So it did not hit them all at once. Hard to say.

    Thank you very much for the replies and suggestions. We are in for a few days of rain and cool temps, so I won't have another good look for a while.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Louisville Kentucky USA
    Posts
    458

    Default Re: Weird swarm, dying

    I got a swarm call a couple of weeks ago and when I got there I found about 100 bees underneath a folded lawn chair in the grass.The homeowner told me that their son had been trying to scare them off for several days. He sprayed them with a garden hose and who knows what else trying to make them leave.I told her that next time they should call me as soon as they arrive and dont mess with them.I left the bees there for her to ponder(she was terrified of them) I wasnt going to sit there and pick them out of the grass for someone that dense.

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