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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2016
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    Columbus, Ohio
    Posts
    14

    Default My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    Hi, this is my first post on the forum, I have been reading and lurking for months now.
    Unfortunately Im writing because my colony just swarmed/absconded. I watched it happen a few minutes ago, and I have the videos to prove it (linked below)
    My main question at this point is: What do I need to do in the near term? Should I open the hive and inspect to see whats left? Should I leave them alone for a time for any reason? My last inspection was 5/25, and before I noticed what was going on today, I was planning to inspect today just enough to find eggs.

    The swarm is on my property, in an oak tree that is only ~12' away from the hive. Unfortunately its at the top of said tree, ~80' off the ground. I doubt any swarm-gathering types would be interested in making that climb...

    I have tons more info about my situation, observations that I have made, questions about certain behavior, etc. When I have some more time I will do a more detailed write up, but for now I just want to make sure I do the right thing in the near term.

    Some basic info:
    First year beekeeper.
    I have only one hive.
    Package bees were installed on 4/16.
    8 frame Langstroth.
    I added a second deep on 5/25. At the time, 6.5 frames of the original deep had been drawn out.
    Top feeder with 1:1 sugar water since install.

    Much more detailed info to follow.

    Here are the video links
    Swarm leaving the hive: https://www.dropbox.com/s/3jeq5rrzo9....5.16.mp4?dl=0
    Swarm clouding around tree branch: https://www.dropbox.com/s/46fbm995pq....5.16.mp4?dl=0
    Swarm at the top of the tree: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2qmr3bb1kq....5.16.mp4?dl=0
    Hive after swarm left:https://www.dropbox.com/s/q5q2g83lte....5.16.mp4?dl=0
    Hive location vs. swarm location: https://www.dropbox.com/s/09whillhik....5.16.mp4?dl=0

    I'd love to get any input on what steps I should take for today and the next few days. In the meantime I will formulate some more questions about what mistakes I made and what signs I missed that led to this.
    Thanks!
    Jeff

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    Quote Originally Posted by Jroot View Post
    Top feeder with 1:1 sugar water since install.
    I'm a first year beek - and had my package go into swarm mode a couple weeks ago - had maybe 20 swarm cells with only 10-12 frames built- I managed to split and prevent it, but your situation sounds a lot like mine, and a lot of the threads I've read recently. I think all of the advice that packages need to be fed (and sometimes articles say constantly for the whole first year) is mostly behind this. I think if you're going to feed a new colony constantly you really need to either have some built comb that you can work in to make sure the queen always has somewhere to lay, or just really keep opening the brood nest up.

    In my case, before seeing the swarm cells I was seeing a lot of nectar interspersed with brood - places where brood had hatched out now had nectar/syrup instead of new eggs/etc.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Deer Lodge MT
    Posts
    340

    Default Re: My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    I would at least take a peek inside the hive. You may still have 1/2 left.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Columbus, Ohio
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    Quote Originally Posted by Aroc View Post
    I would at least take a peek inside the hive. You may still have 1/2 left.
    Yes, there are still bees in there. I have an observation window in the sidewall of the bottom brood box, and just checked it. The density on the visible frame is about 30-50% of what used to be typical. I have not opened the hive up yet.

    I've just done some reading and it sounds like the next thing to do in terms of inspection would be to pull frames and look for queen cells. As I understand it, in the next 2-3 days these queen cells should be capped, with new queens getting ready to emerge. Does this sound like a sensible thing to do given my situation? Or should I wait a week or so and look for the hatched queen cell(s)? Or should I just leave them alone and let them recover from losing half of their population?

    Then - as I understand this - I wait about 2 weeks post-swarm, and look for eggs from the new queen. Sound about right?

    Any other suggestions, guidance, or comments would be appreciated.

    CrazyTalk - I will check at the next inspection for honeybound brood, and the interspersed pattern you described. I really wouldn't have thought space would be the issue - as I doubled the hive volume to two deeps only ten days prior to the swarm... I'll let you know what I find.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Kirksville, Missouri USA
    Posts
    808

    Default Re: My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    A swarm usually occurs at about the time the first cells are capped, so most say. Then, 8 days after being capped the queens start to emerge. Within a week after that they should be doing mating flights by then, and they could be laying as soon as a few days later. Your biggest concern is afterswarms with virgin queens. As they emerge any one or more of them can leave with more bees, and they can start emerging in days. I would inspect now, being careful with cells, and if you didn't have any use for the cells, remove all but 2 of the best looking ones and close it up being careful not to damage the remaining cells. Watch for robbers with the reduced strength hive, and wait about 3 weeks from now to inspect for laying queen and you should have eggs and possibly larva laid by then. If you have a need, or know someone who does, you can use the removed cells for use in a split elsewhere, etc.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Deer Lodge MT
    Posts
    340

    Default Re: My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    If it's been a few days since you opened up the hive, you should be fine with an inspection. If you have queen cells...and I'm pretty sure you do....just let things play out.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Winona, Texas
    Posts
    68

    Default Re: My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    I would do an inspection and look for queen cells, If multiple queen cells are found I would destroy all but 2 of them. This would help with after swams.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Columbus, Ohio
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    I inspected today.
    I had expected to find a bunch of swarm cells at the bottom of the frames in the lower deep. I did find some queen cells, though they weren't hanging off the bottom of the frames as I had been expecting. Three of them were capped, I decided to leave them all and see what comes of this.
    A few pics are included. Thanks for the comments and guidance.

    WP_20160606_10_42_29_Pro.jpg
    WP_20160606_10_31_43_Pro.jpg
    WP_20160606_10_31_23_Pro.jpg

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    Those last two pictures are pretty much hanging off the bottom of the comb (they're just not fully drawn out).

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Kirksville, Missouri USA
    Posts
    808

    Default Re: My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    I saw the swarm I'm your video so I'd call them swarm cells.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Murfreesboro, TN (Rutherford Co)
    Posts
    130

    Default Re: My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    Love the color of your hive.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Port Angeles, WA
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    If the swarm is still in the tree, I would attempt to throw a rock with twine attached over the branch that they are settled on. I've had success jarring them loose that way. Then, you need to cross your fingers that the queen will settle in a lower location nearby. Otherwise, you may want to set out another box and put some lemongrass oil, or similar scent in it to see if you can coax them into moving in...

    cool videos. Good luck

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Columbus, Ohio
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    14

    Default Re: My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    Good thought on the rock-string jarring the branch approach. I don't think I have the range to get anything to the top of that tree. Even if I did, its too late now - they've gone. I did set out a hive body below the swarm, and when I did my inspection on the original hive I took one of the partially drawn out frames that had some sugar water in it and transferred that to the box I was attempting to lure them to. There doesn't seem to be any interest, but Im going to leave it out another day just in case.

    Didn't know about lemongrass oil as an attractant. I don't know what lemongrass oil smells like either. I'll give that a try the next time (I hope there is not a next time).

    The swarm has moved on, to where I don't know. They were in the top of that oak for about 24 hours. While it sucks to lose half the bees, the part that bums me the most is the idea that that huge ball of bees could be setting up shop in one of my neighbors attics, or under their deck, or in some other place that could cause a nuisance. Oh well that's nature I guess.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Kirksville, Missouri USA
    Posts
    808

    Default Re: My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    Hey, wherever the swarm went to, some beekeeper may love it sometime when they get to cut it out. Maybe someone caught it in a swarm trap.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Columbus, Ohio
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    We took some more video that some might find interesting.
    Yesterday we saw a queen through the observation window. This is ~48 hrs after the swarm left, and 24 hours after I inspected and left 3 capped queen cells in the hive.
    I have no idea if this is a new queen or the old one (it worked out to where my original queen wasn't marked, that's another story). Maybe some of you can tell by looking if this queen is young or old? Looks new to me, but I've only seen the queen a handful of times.
    I understand that bee SOP says that the old queen left with the swarm, but I've also learned that bees don't always seem to follow the SOP and rules that beekeepers make for them.
    The queen we saw yesterday wasn't doing the queen-type stuff I've seen in the past like laying eggs or inspecting cells. She was mostly moving around over the top of the other bees and off the comb.
    Take a look at the videos if your interested and let me know if you see anything else noteworthy or anything that gives you any additional clues as to whats going on. If nothing else its interesting to me to note the timing between the swarm and the queen sighting.

    Post-swarm Queen 1 - https://www.dropbox.com/s/85ggl5fvhv....7.16.mp4?dl=0
    Post-swarm Queen - https://www.dropbox.com/s/cv7vggigvc....7.16.mp4?dl=0

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Kirksville, Missouri USA
    Posts
    808

    Default Re: My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    Looks like a virgin queen there. The swarm may have left several days after the capping of cells. From capped cell to queen emergence is like 8-9 days.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Columbus, Ohio
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    Inspected again yesterday and I am not seeing any eggs or larvae.
    Time to get a queen?
    6/5 - swarmed
    1 day post-swarm - inspected and found 3 capped queen cells and left them there.
    3 days post-swarm - saw a queen through the observation window
    14 days post-swarm - inspected and found no eggs or larvae, a bit of capped brood remaining, I watched one youngster climb out of its cell. Didn't see a queen.
    21 days post swarm (yesterday) - I inspected again and found no eggs, no larvae, no capped brood, and no queen... all of the 3 queen cells were uncapped.

    Thoughts?? should I go find a queen? or give them a bit more time to get this sorted out?
    Im leaning towards waiting and watching to see what happens, but I'd like to get some opinions.
    If the hive were truly queenless, would I start to see eggs laid by workers? and lots of drones from those eggs?

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    HOPKINTON, MA
    Posts
    100

    Default Re: My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    Give it 28 days before pursuing other options. My last swarm, I didn't find any eggs until day 24.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Greenbrae, CA, USA
    Posts
    541

    Default Re: My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    Quote Originally Posted by Scitfrostbite View Post
    Give it 28 days before pursuing other options. My last swarm, I didn't find any eggs until day 24.
    +1. You had a queen, so wait another week. If nothing then, start looking for another queen.

    This is a good example of why only having one hive can be a problem. Two or more is actually easier as you can compare and share.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Columbus, Ohio
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: My Bees Swarmed/Absconded 10 Minutes Ago - With Video

    Thanks for the input!

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