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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    6,020

    Default Never seen this before

    Went to a yard today, BTW it's early summer here. There's a dozen hives plus 51 mating nucs. As I drove up I could see a swarm in flight so ran down to see which hive was swarming. The swarm slowly swirled down the length of the yard, and as it went, several of the nucs joined it. The bees came charging flat out out of several different nucs just as per a normal swarm, and all joined the swarm which settled on a bush. I hived it but didn't bother trying to sort out the virgins. These nucs were all given cells just over a week ago.

    Didn't bother trying to sort out the queens in the swarm, just stuck it in a box they can work it out.

    The problem might be I made the nucs pretty strong because we were having a cold snap at the time. Had a look in a couple they still have a enough bees I've marked the ones that swarmed they will get a new cell on tuesday.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    39

    Default Re: Never seen this before

    What part of the world are you in Oldtimer?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Never seen this before

    New Zealand, our seasons are round the exact opposite to the US. So right now US are in fall, we are in spring, or early summer.

    But similar to your seasons Bernsad just not so extreme. When I was in Melbourne a while back I nearly froze, then last time there was a heat wave it was crazy hot, I was glad to get back to NZ.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,515

    Default Re: Never seen this before

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    New Zealand...
    I have a small piece of NZ growing in my garden - a pineapple guava, feijoa. Apparently, NZ is big on feijoas. Sergey
    Серёжа, Sergey

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
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    39

    Default Re: Never seen this before

    Sorry Oldtimer, I missed your location in the header. Is your weather truly early summer? Yesterday in Melbourne it sleeted up in the nearby hills at Mt. Dandenong. I spent a few weeks working in and around Auckland a few years ago, I would love to get back some time. Actually, I want to retire and live on Waiheke Island.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
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    5,472

    Default Re: Never seen this before

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post

    Didn't bother trying to sort out the queens in the swarm, just stuck it in a box they can work it out.

    The problem might be I made the nucs pretty strong because we were having a cold snap at the time.
    Were the new queens in the mating nucs laying? And these queens left with the swarm? How large was the swarm once it settled?

    I've never seen this either oldtimer. But I have seen bees leave queenless nucs to enter a queen-right nuc just after set-up.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    New Albany, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    368

    Default Re: Never seen this before

    Commercial queen producers sometimes talk of this.

    I have seen something similar in my nuc yards, perhaps I spend too much time there! It is in the prime swarming season as you describe in years when swarming is heavy. One colony will initiate the swarming and other nucs will join in, especially if they are queenless (have a caged queen, or just waiting for another), have virgins and sometimes nucs with mated laying queens. I have not seen the nucs with mated laying queens empty out, but some of the bees will join in the excitement.

    I see something along these lines in the fall as well when swarms come into my nuc yards. I do not know why, but I assume it is stress related, because small swarms, some with mated queens, some with virgins, come into the yard looking for a new nest site. These swarms generally come in before the fall slow starts. It took me a little while to realize what was happening, but the cloud of bees in the air causes excitement for the nucs in the yard. The resident colonies do not appear to join in the usurpation type swarm, but none the less are excited for a little while.
    Breeder Queens & Honey Bee Nutritional Supplements
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Roy, Wa
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    1,685

    Default Re: Never seen this before

    Since they were all given cells that would basically have hatched at the same time, don't you think it may have been several virgin queens on mating flights that caused the excitement? Hard as it would have been, I may have let them alone to do their thing and see if they made it back to their own hives.

    The day Before I left for Montana elk hunting I had what looked like a small swarm going on.(Fall here in my area) What it turned out to be is one of my divided deeps with colonies on both sides had the divider board shrink a bit..just enough for the bees on one side to mingle over to the other side..The queen on one side was getting harrassed so she got out of Dodge. The 'swarm' came back to the hive and resided on the outside where the harrassed queen landed. Not a swarm at all is what I am trying to point out. But they sure acted like it. All swirley, buzzing, etc. filled the air with bees.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Never seen this before

    Hey, a lot of wisdom in all those posts!

    And yes, I love feijoas, got a few trees in the back yard.

    The queens, I don't think were mated yet, although after some bad weather, the last two days have been lovely hot sunny mating days, also lots of hives been preparing to swarm although luckily I've just got onto them in time and taken nucs off, split, supered etc I'll not need to worry about swarming this season. ( i hope! )

    The initial swarm that was flying when I arrived was very small, presumably from a nuc and yes I did wonder if there was some confusion during a mating flight cos that's what those queens should have been doing yesterday, although it did behave very much like a swarm. As it swirled down the yard collecting bees from more nucs as it went, it ended up the size of a medium swarm, put into one lang box but probably won't fill it.

    I don't think any of those queens were laying yet but should definately been taking mating flights yesterday.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
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    972

    Default Re: Never seen this before

    It seems to make some sense. The virgin queens have hatched, but not yet mated, and most certainly are not laying, so their pheromone level is way low. Though they had queens, the troops (probably shaken from donor hives?) did not yet have the usual signals that they were queenright, and thus felt queenless. There was bad weather, so they had a case of cabin fever - they wanted to get out and fly - and then a queen takes off on a swarm flight, exciting everyone in town. They may already have swarming response in their blood, and emergency response / supercedure response were confused by artificial conditions. Robert Russell mentioned swarming silliness occurring in baby nucs, especially.

    My guesses may be way off base...thoughts, anyone?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Never seen this before

    Sounds like a pretty fair assessment.

    I wasn't going to report this because it gets even more strange. But, what the heck. A few days later I was back in the yard & had a look, there were bees in the hived swarm, but a sizeable pile of dead bees out the front, can only conclude they must have been fighting. Which is strange because I've combined swarms before & never had a problem long as they are thoroughly mixed. Looked for dead queens but didn't find any but doesn't mean there weren't any.

    Anyhow couple days ago I had a look inside, now has a laying queen, same looking as the ones in the nucs pretty certain it's one of them.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: Never seen this before

    Yeah "swarming silliness" probably describes it better than anything although the dead bee thing is a bit curious but I suppose anytime there is that much excitement in a yard disagreements result. Unless I miss my guess swarming conditions are probably ideal down there right now. In human terms think Friday night college frat party with lots of sorority girls in attendance.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Ojai, California
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    972

    Default Re: Never seen this before

    I think the dead bee thing that occurred a few days(?) later is explained by that any mated (recent virgins) queens were now laying and would now fight, or merely had time to meet and duke it out. If they were laying, the workers in the colonies might now fight as well.

    Good guess or bad, thank you for posting this, Oldtimer. It is indeed interesting stuff in the queen rearing business. How big were these nucs?

    Jim - Your "frat party" analogy isn't that far off when one realizes that the sorority girls are virgin queens. I'm pretty sure the frat boys are drones. At least I used to act like one ;-)

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