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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Lees summit, missouri, USA
    Posts
    49

    Angry swarm left nuc within a day

    Help. I captured my first swarm last evening. Small swarm from a small tree. Put bees into a 5 frame nuc. Never saw the queen. Left the nuc in the driveway overnight with the entrance completely blocked. Added small jar of sugar water on the top board inside the nuc. Morning check revealed lots of black ants inside the hive clustered around sugar water jar. Cleared out the ants, and moved nuc to permanent location approx 100 yards from driveway, opened the entrance but left queen excluder in front of the entrance.

    Noticed bees were not eating sugar water. Checked sugar water level a few hours later. Ants were back and bees were gone. Empty nuc except for ants.

    Any idea what may have happened? Did ants force out the weak unestablished hive? What else might cause bees to swarm again? It's over 100+ degrees in location and in a drought.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,438

    Default Re: swarm left nuc within a day

    My guess would be the ants.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Lees summit, missouri, USA
    Posts
    49

    Default Re: swarm left nuc within a day

    Any ideas for keeping the ants out?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,438

    Default Re: swarm left nuc within a day

    A couple ideas actually.
    1. You could add posts (legs) to the bottom of the nuc and place small containers under the posts (legs) and add vegetable oil to the containers. Like a moat.
    2. Sprinkle cinnamon LIGHTLY around the nuc. Ants hate cinnamon. Some people will say that cinnamon if used over two weeks may cause the bees to leave as well. Bees have a very good sense of smell.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,456

    Default Re: swarm left nuc within a day

    First of all, never feed syrup to a hive sitting on the ground, the ants can simply climb up the side and under the cover (they never fit tight enough to keep them out) and hence into the syrup.

    Second, what was in the nuc? Foundation only? Old black comb? Empth? If you put some old brood comb in there, the queen should be laying in a day or two, honeybees REALLY like pre-made comb! Empty frames or just foundation, they have no real reason to stay, especially if the hive is full of ants.

    You may also have not gotten a queen, or just a virgin queen, and if that was the case it's less likely they will stay.

    If in doubt, and you have one available, a frame of brood will anchor them quite well. However, you must have enough bees to cover that frame, no need to get chilled brood.

    Peter

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Lees summit, missouri, USA
    Posts
    49

    Default Re: swarm left nuc within a day

    Peter,

    I am a new beekeeper and am not understanding. Yes, I had only foundation in the 5 frame nuc. I have 3 frames of brood in another hive. Are you implying that I could have/should have put a frame of brood from another hive into the nuc with the captured swarm? Would that brood be accepted by the swarm?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,456

    Default Re: swarm left nuc within a day

    I would not have taken one of only three frames of brood, certainly, but if you had a large hive with six or eight frames of brood, taking one to put into the nuc would be a good thing to do, provided there were enough bees in the swarm to cover it.

    We had huge swarms this year -- a buddy of mine had one that weighed at least 9 lbs, completely filled a deep, which they drew out in less than a week. I got one that was probably six pounds, too large to leave in a 5 frame nuc more than a couple days.

    Usually a swarm will stay put in anything that closely resembles a bee hive, but you get one once in a while that simply will not. The heat didn't help, the ants didn't help, and it's possible you didn't get the queen, or there wasn't one, and off they went. Of they had some other spot picked out they liked better than your nice nuc. It happens.

    As noted, it's not necessary to feed a swarm for at least several days -- they stuff themselves with honey just before they leave the original hive, and are in fact so stuffed they can barely fly. Probably one of the reasons they are so docile. They start building comb immediately when they move to what they consider a hive, and the queen will lay in that comb as soon as the side walls are partially built. Once they start comb they usually won't leave. They can build a LOT of comb in short order -- my large swarm this year drew out four complete combs from foundation (the fifth was an old brood comb) and filled them with nectar in three days.

    Peter

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