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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Fort Bragg, California, USA
    Posts
    13

    Default My Bees Flew into the Tree! First Swarm & Retrieval

    This is my first year--I installed at the end of April.

    I've been inspecting about every 8 days, but last weekend skipped and truly paid for it today: they flew (in front of me) up into our pine tree about 30 feet up. My dear boyfriend jerry-rigged a telescoping pole and a salmon net lined with a black plastic trash bag; armed with this instrument, I positioned as best I could about 9' below the swarm while he climbed the tree with a pole saw. This "drop in the bag" method failed on us twice--the queen either flew back into the air and resettled, or we didn't get her.

    We stopped, had a late lunch and regrouped. It was decided that both of us should be up in the tree . . .

    I climbed in my bee suit (not easy!) about 10 feet up while dear bf was in the next limb up with the saw. Keeping the net about 1' below the swarm we dropped 3 branches in until most of the mass made it into the bag. It was ridiculously heavy, as well as awkward, so I held on until I could be helped with "closing" the bag (tilting the net so the opening was somewhat closed). Somehow we managed to get the net and pole untangled from the tree as we climbed down, then deposited net, bag and branches into 2 meds.
    Bees started dancing with their butts up (to my bf's amazement) telling all "she's over here!" Whew!
    I put in one frame of honey and one of capped and open brood as well as 2 empty frames. After a few minutes I shook and took out the plastic bag and a few of the branches. The bees were all heaped into the corner of the box, leading me to believe they were surrounding the queen.
    I believe quite a few bees returned to the original hive as well (I put an entrance feeder in for them).
    Hopefully they stay put.
    I really don't know what I'm doing, but I'm trying!

    This may seem dumb, but is the old queen in the swarm, and the original hive queenless? (There is 1 queen cell, capped)
    And should I now stick to 2 hives?--or at some point combine them?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Arlee MT USA
    Posts
    548

    Default Re: My Bees Flew into the Tree! First Swarm & Retrieval

    I really don't know what I'm doing, but I'm trying!
    I believe this a great philosophy and if we were to be honest one that a lot of us share.

    This may seem dumb, but is the old queen in the swarm, and the original hive queenless?
    I believe that this is the case. The old hive should be producing a virgin queen as soon as they are able. As to what to do with your two hives, I think it depends on how strong the old hive is. If it makes a queen and rebuilds its population I would consider yourself lucky to have got the swarm and have doubled your apiary.

    Mostly I'm impressed that your bees built up enough to swarm in this short of period. The packages that I started in early may are just now starting to need a second medium. I guess thats the advantage of living in california.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Fort Bragg, California, USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: My Bees Flew into the Tree! First Swarm & Retrieval

    Thank you and yes, they had a capped queen "peanut" at the bottom of frame 1 in my lowest box. I see now after my inspection that the queen ran out of room to lay: the foragers filled her old brood cells rather than use the super I gave them. The original hive is nice and full with plenty of brood in various stages as well as food (i removed the top box and will give it back after they draw the 2 new frames I gave them and fill the 2 lightest frames).

    The swarm was a bit bigger than a basketball and took right to the frame of brood and honey I gave them. They got 2 meds and I'm not going to indulge them with sugar water to draw out the foundation: the blackberries and eucs are blooming. If they think they can make it on their own then no more syrup!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Fort Bragg, California, USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: My Bees Flew into the Tree! First Swarm & Retrieval

    Quote Originally Posted by Aerindel View Post
    Mostly I'm impressed that your bees built up enough to swarm in this short of period.
    Yes, I started with 1# of bees that was actually about .65# (lots of dead bees upon intall). I've been giving them as much sugar water as they want, since they started with such a low population. I suppose something was working right for there to be so many bees already.
    Exciting stuff!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Arlee MT USA
    Posts
    548

    Default Re: My Bees Flew into the Tree! First Swarm & Retrieval

    Cool.....I started with 3# packages, have been feeding continuously and my best hive only has nine medium frames covered in bees.

    Of course its rained here just about everyday since I installed and overnight temps are still frequently in the 40's

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,167

    Default Re: My Bees Flew into the Tree! First Swarm & Retrieval

    That's a good story. Its best to have at least 2 hives.
    If the old hive doesn't have a new queen laying in 2-3 weeks you can recombine, or give them a frame of eggs from the new hive to try again, or buy them a queen.
    Dan

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