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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    80

    Default My bees are swarming! What do I do?

    This marks the beginning of my second season with bees. I have atop bar hives that is too small. I used the plans from topbarhive.com and it's very short.

    I'm in Austin, Texas and it's very warm already. Today is 86F, sunny, no wind. It's the warmest day so far.

    A couple of days ago, my bees were bearding a little. I figured it was just the heat. Right now, they are swarming. I have never seen anything like this. There is a ball on the to of a tree about 25-30 feet up. I cannot reach them.

    What are my options?

    1) I could let them swarm (bummer for me), or

    2) I could catch them (and either sell them or use them to beef up my other hive which is 3 miles away).

    What SHOULD I do? I really don't know. I should have been prepared for this, but I am not.

    If I catch them how do I? I use the best thing do so is build a swarm trap, but how?

    And, to top things off, my home office is a tiny lean upon. That's where I am now. And there is a GIGANTIC red wasp flying around in here. I'm terrified of it! So, if you have any tips on how to bait that, I'm all ears!!!

    Please forgive my lack of educating myself on this matter, shame on me and I feel ridiculous that I didn't put a plan in place before it was too late. But if you have something to offer, know how very grateful I am!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,492

    Default Re: My bees are swarming! What do I do?

    Set an empty hive with some old black brood comb (if you have it) and some lemongrass essential oil (if you have it) and some psuedoqueen or queen juice (queens in alcohol) in it (if you have it) and let them move in. If you have all of these items, the odds are very high they will move into the empty hive. If you have only some of them, the odds are still not too bad. The space of about one ten frame deep, or two ten or eight frame mediums will be about right.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,018

    Default Re: My bees are swarming! What do I do?

    What can you do? Observe, learn. Prepare for next time. With all due respect, you don't seem to be in a state to do anything about it, so just let it go. Your hive will make a new queen and life will go on.

    Kill the wasp.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: My bees are swarming! What do I do?

    Michael, I'm use top bar hives, so I don't have most of that. I do have a cardboard box and a top bar from another hive. I'm making a lure out of olive oil, lemon grass, beeswax, and rosemary. I'm going to slather it on the top bar, put the bar in the cardboard box, make an entrance for them, and see what happens.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Spicewood, Texas, USA
    Posts
    232

    Default Re: My bees are swarming! What do I do?

    Dear Kat:
    Like you, I'm in the Austin area, I use TBHs, and I run like the wind when those fat red wasps get near me. Get some spray (the projectile kind), hide behind the door, and then blast the guy. Slam the door and run!!! Come back later to verify death.
    Why not look at the swarm in a positive way? Your bees made it through the winter, and they're strong and healthy. You go, girl!
    I think I'll go up and check on mine. If yours are swarming...
    So far, just a lot of orientation flights in the last ten days or so.

    Sondra

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Pickaway/Fairfield Cty, OH
    Posts
    108

    Default Re: My bees are swarming! What do I do?

    You could always try "tanging" them, which is beating on a metal pot with a metal spoon. I've not tried this yet, and many call it an old wives tale, but I have heard that beekeepers have had success at times with this getting the bees to move lower in the tree or onto another lower tree where you could get to them. What have you got to lose (your neighbors may think you're crazy) and it just might work, especially if the bees haven't been there long. I'd love to hear that this worked!

    Good luck!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Berlin, Germany
    Posts
    36

    Default Re: My bees are swarming! What do I do?

    Quote Originally Posted by KatGold View Post
    And, to top things off, my home office is a tiny lean upon. That's where I am now. And there is a GIGANTIC red wasp flying around in here. I'm terrified of it! So, if you have any tips on how to bait that, I'm all ears!!!
    Open the door or window? Or trap it against the glass of the window in a cup and slide a piece of paper under it and then carry it outside. God forbid you get a spider in there. :-)

    -K
    Kevin M. Pfeiffer -- Berlin, Germany

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: My bees are swarming! What do I do?

    LOL, thanks y'all for understanding that the fear of the red wasp is about the craziest thing to happen--despited the fact that I just came in from my backyard where 50,000 bees were going insane. The wasp and the bees at the same time, it was just about too much.

    Right now, surprisingly, the bees are calm and in a ball a bit lower than they had started. The wasp and I are living together peacefully (so far) in the office. I cannot projectile spray it, because this tiny office is my office. It's a small space with all of my computer equipment and office paperwork and books and such. It is too high for me to catch and I'm just too scared of the darn thing to bat at it with a broom. I got into a Mexican stand-off with one of these things hiking once (no offense to anyone one, that's just what we call it here in Texas) and the darn thing brought back reinforcements. I kid you not. I have held a great respect/fear for the things ever since. Bring me a scorpion or spider any day of the week, but not a red wasp.

    So, the bees are lower. I've made my box (as described above) and it is placed 6 feet off the ground about 8 linear feet away from the bees. It will be interesting if they actually move in. I will check on the other hive later today to see if they could use some buddies. I haven't cracked open the box yet this year, but I know they are alive.

    Yes, Sondra, I am very happy that they made it through the winter and are doing well. That is fantastic news! Though, I would like honey some year and I don't think I'm on the road to honey. But healthy bees are more important than honey, so I'm okay with that. Why, Sondra, do we not know each other? I need a bee buddy in this town. PM me and let's chat.

    If any of you Texas folks have a Lanstroth for sale, and if I manage to catch these bees, I might want to buy it off of you. Please send me a PM.

    I'll keep you updated if I get any action.

    For those are interested in the outcome of the hiking story, I lost the battle.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    43,492

    Default Re: My bees are swarming! What do I do?

    >I do have a cardboard box and a top bar from another hive. I'm making a lure out of olive oil, lemon grass, beeswax, and rosemary. I'm going to slather it on the top bar, put the bar in the cardboard box, make an entrance for them, and see what happens.

    That could work. You don't need the olive oil. The beeswax will help. The rosemary MIGHT. There is just a hint of some kind of rose smell to Nasanov. I'm not sure if it's in rosemary or not.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Athens, OH
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    2,539

    Default Re: My bees are swarming! What do I do?

    You're in Texas. Shoot the wasp.
    Is it solipsistic in here, or is it just me?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: My bees are swarming! What do I do?

    I got the recipe off a website. I hope the olive oil isn't a deterrent. I could make a bar of wax with lemon grass if you think I should. I could make it and just toss it in the entrance. What do you think about that?

    It's pretty fragrant right now. When I walk up to it, I can smell it some. It's not strong, but I'm not a bee.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Whitmell, Virginia, USA
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    95

    Default Re: My bees are swarming! What do I do?

    why not knock another hive together right quick and move the queen and about 1/3 of the brood frames to the other hive and a storage frame or two?

    Then the other will raise a queen. Done deal. Tear off the queen cells if any on the frames you move to the one with the queen. Leave the ones in the other one to hatch.
    Don't laugh it's paid for. -- Manure draws more flies than honey.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
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    Default Re: My bees are swarming! What do I do?

    Hmm..knocking a top bar hive is probably easier said than done, at least for me. The angles are a bit problematic for me. I really think I need to switch to a Langstroth.

    Anywhoo, I've got some updates.

    First, the bees.

    I kept an eye out and the box sat with not bees near it and the ball just sat on the tree. I looked at it about every 20 minutes and never saw any action.

    Then, I went out to check and the bees were gone. Just gone. I lifted the box to see if I could feel or hear the bees, but nothing. I looked in the little door and saw nothing.

    So, I carelessly tossed the box back on top of the chicken coop where it had been. I walked about 10 feet and turned around only to see gazillions of bees flying every which way. I guess they actually moved into the box and I disturbed them.

    I watched the bees examine, beard upon, and enter the box. It probably took about 30 minutes of frenetic activity before things calmed down. Now, there are a few bees around the entrance, but no other activity.

    I'm thinking the best thing to do is close it up after the sun goes down, right? I have someone who wants them so I'm going to let her take them tomorrow morning.

    Now, the new weird thing. All the activity I described happened an hour or so ago. Just now, I looked at the actual hive. Through the window, I can see that it is seriously full of bees. Plenty of bees inside. And oddly, there are also quite a few bees bearding on the entrance. It is now 76F, still no wind. It will probably be dusky in about 30 minutes.

    What do you all think is happening?

    Second, the red wasp.

    Cg3, good point. Actually, just yesterday a neighbor was shooting birds out of another neighbor's trees. Ah Texas. But I'd rather only shoot at a can in a clearing. I'm old fashioned that way. Fortunately, my DH finally made it home, took out the fly swatter, and swashbuckled that wasp to its bitter end. My hero.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    4,969

    Default Re: My bees are swarming! What do I do?

    > Plenty of bees inside. And oddly, there are also quite a few bees bearding on the entrance.

    It is possible that your hive may issue a secondary swarm.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Austin, TX
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    80

    Default Re: My bees are swarming! What do I do?

    Yikes!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    43,492

    Default Re: My bees are swarming! What do I do?

    >I hope the olive oil isn't a deterrent.

    Not a deterrent.

    They may have moved back in, or they may have cast another swarm. What's in the box now?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
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    1,051

    Default Re: My bees are swarming! What do I do?

    Crazy! I've never heard of a swarm leaving a hive and moving back in. That would be way cool!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    East Peoria, IL
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    398

    Default Re: My bees are swarming! What do I do?

    Quote Originally Posted by shannonswyatt View Post
    Crazy! I've never heard of a swarm leaving a hive and moving back in. That would be way cool!
    I've heard where they leave and cluster only to realize they left their queen behind, they've already made up their mind, just have to do it right.

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