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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Wheaton, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    17

    Question Newbee Question About Swarm Behavior

    I'm definitely new at this, one hive started from a 3lb package in early May. They have drawn 7 combs in the bottom deep (8 frame equipment) and I added a second deep about 3 weeks ago. Did an inspection 2 weeks ago and they had drawn only 1 frame in the upper deep but I found several queen cells on the side of the comb. Another inspection last week and the queen cells were capped and they had drawn another 1 1/2 frames in the upper deep for a total of 2 1/2 frames with a tiny bit of work on another frame. I haven't seen the old queen in the last 3 inspections and she is marked so she has been easy to find. I assumed I must have rolled my queen in an earlier inspection and that they were making a new one.

    Today I noticed a lot of bees flying back and forth in a flight path they have never used before. I went out to take a look and there were more bees flying in and out of the entrance than I've ever had. Still they weren't clustering or bearding, just lots of bees flying. There was also a louder buzz coming from the hive than they've ever made. I watched for a while and the activity didn't slow down and the noise didn't decrease. It occurred to me that maybe they were going to swarm. Since this is the first year for this hive and they have lots of room I didn't expect them to swarm this year but I'm new at this so maybe they are?

    I don't have any more hive bodies but I have a couple of mediums so I went to the shed and made a bottom board and an outer cover. I put foundation in eight frames and put the frames in the box. I don't have any lemon grass oil but I do have some Honey-B Healthy so I smeared a little dab of that on top of a couple of the frames. I set this hive up about 25 feet from the existing one. Before I even stood up after setting the box down a couple of bees flew around it and then entered it. I stepped away and watched and quite a few bees began flying around the outside of the new box and then entering. I would say probably two or three bees every minute were checking it out.

    So my questions-
    1- Is it likely that my hive started from a 3 lb. package this year, which has lots of room is going to swarm? They just didn't seem that strong.
    2- Are the bees inspecting my "swarm trap" hive likely to be scout bees (even though they haven't swarmed yet) or just curious bees checking out the box?
    3- Should I take a drawn frame from my existing hive (not one with brood or eggs of course) and put it in the swarm trap or is foundation enough?

    Thanks,
    --Sherman

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Porcupine Plain, Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    294

    Default Re: Newbee Question About Swarm Behavior

    I'm not completely sure, but from your description it sounds more like robbing to me. Michael Bush said in his book that queenless hives are more likely to be robbed and I had a queenless hive that got robbed so I would say that that is true. Is the drawn frames full of honey? If so it may be swarming activity, though I have never heard of them flying around a lot more when they are about to swarm, unless they have already made up their mind on a location and are flying to it, but since they are flying back and forth I would say it's robbing. I would take a close look to see if there is any fighting at the entrance or if the drawn frames have honey in them. If there's fighting at the entrance or if the drawn frames aren't full or nearly full of honey, I would put a wet sheet over them.


    Nathan
    Good enough is perfect - Joel Salatin

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,973

    Default Re: Newbee Question About Swarm Behavior

    If the cells are on the side of the frame, they're more likely supercedure cells. If they were swarm cells and are capped, then the swarm is likely already gone.

    Bees interested in your swarm box may like the smell or taste of the HBH. If you see more and more bees gathering there, they may be interested in swarming into it. Watch and find out.

    A comb is better than foundation in a trap.

    Adam

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    watertown,wi.,USA
    Posts
    459

    Default Re: Newbee Question About Swarm Behavior

    Have you seen any eggs lately? I had a similar concern after not finding my queen at a time or 2 and had 3-5 queen cells as well. Fortunately, I needed to add my 2nd deep at that time, which I think gave them more room and the put any swarming ideas on hold. I checked a week later, found eggs but no queen again. So I took the risk and relied on the eggs and I proceeded to cut out all queen/supercedure cells. Some would say that was a bad move. A few days later, I found the Queen finally, with many eggs, and a good brood pattern and honey. Is it possible that I "cheated" the swarming from happening? Most will say there is no changing their mind once they want to swarm. So...look for eggs before you get too worried about the Queen. juzzerbee

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Wheaton, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: Newbee Question About Swarm Behavior

    Thanks for the feedback everyone! I've been watching them pretty closely the last few days and I don't believe robbing is going on. I opened the hive on Friday and there were enough bees to cover 6 frames in the bottom box and two or three in the top box (eight frame equipment) so the population seems pretty good. They were incredibly calm when I opened the hive, as they have been every time I've inspected. This time though there were a bunch in the air during the inspection but they mostly ignored me. One did fly directly from the hive, bang my veil and then return directly to the hive.

    They have stopped paying attention to the swarm trap. I'm beginning to think that there was just a sudden population explosion over a period of a couple days. Combined with the heat we've been having I think that there were simply more out and about than ever before. I'm also pretty sure, based on the queen cells on the side of the comb that they have superceded the queen.

    I'm having trouble seeing eggs, the comb is still pretty white, but Friday I did see s small amount of capped brood. I'll try and look again late this week and will specifically try to train my eyes to see eggs. Of course if there is a new queen there probably aren't any eggs right now. I'll post again if anything weird happens!

    --Sherman

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,489

    Default Re: Newbee Question About Swarm Behavior

    Very likely they superseded the queen, which is normal behavior in swarms and often in packages. The sudden activity is a new source of nectar.

    If you have new brood, your new queen is up and going, so you should be fine.

    Keep an eye on them, and if foraging activity falls off, feed. If they are not bringing in lots of pollen, feed a supplement patty.

    Peter

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