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Thread: TBH Swarm

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Rogue River, OR
    Posts
    32

    Default TBH Swarm

    We are new beekeepers and have a single TBH. We installed a swarm in April and they are going really well but all brood combs so far, no honey only. They had about six bars left to fill at the end.

    Yesterday, I could hear bees when I was outside and looked around. There were a lot flying around the top of the house. Hm. I called a local beekeeper to ask him if this was swarming (rather than one massive orientation flight). He wasn't sure. By the time I was done talking, the activity was gone, so I looked around at the trees around the house to see if I found find a cluster of bees. I did not.

    Today there was a flurry in roughly the same spot (maybe 30 feet away from the hive). This time I watched them fly all over the backyard and then settle into a pine about 40/45 ft up. Well out of reach, alas. I even called someone advertising to catch swarms but it was too high for him.

    Hm. So we hastily assembled a nuc, pulled some plastic out of a frame, pulled some dark brood comb out of the TBH, cut and rubber banded it into the frame. A few drops of lemongrass oil in the nuc and set it all on top of the house, about 25 feet below the cluster of bees.

    I figured chances are the cluster will ignore it and move on, but maybe their scouts will come down and take a look. I'm not sure how often clusters fly off to a new spot? Or do they stay put until the scouts have made a report?

    They've been up there about five hours now at least. I'm not sure what yesterday's activity was, same bees or a DIFFERENT swarm.

    We did inspect the TBH as well, found six or so queen cells and three uncapped. Lots of brood, no honey only combs (one with nectar, but not capped), lots of bees left in the hive. No uncapped larvae, didn't see eggs. Should we do anything with the capped cells? Leave them be? Let the bees sort it out?

    It's a learning experience. Wish the bees had landed lower!
    Last edited by dixieswife; 06-15-2013 at 07:52 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Rogue River, OR
    Posts
    32

    Default Re: TBH Swarm

    Follow up: the bees hung around on the tree all day Saturday, spent the night and left sometime between 2:30 and 7:30 pm. They did not care about the bait hive we put down. Oh well.

    The original hive looks like it has a lot of bees, with plenty of brood to hatch, and the queen cells mentioned in original post. From what I've read, in about a week, they might throw another swarm?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Josephine County,Oregon,USA
    Posts
    131

    Default Re: TBH Swarm

    I'm hoping mine stay put and raise a new queen that adopts the hive but I guess "ya never know". Mine has a lot of normal activity and the humming sounds good again, with a third or more of the original population left and a fair amount of brood hatching in the next weeks "with"???? a new queen? Things seemed strange for 2 weeks before my swarm. I manipulated some bars to try to make space but heck....it didn't work when my hive was packed so I don't know if it'll work now that it has less bees! My problem is I couldn't remove honey; they had uncapped nectar and part brood part honey combs I didn't want to kill. I could only rearrange unfinished combs to not disrupt things a lot.....I'm moderately hands off and not "commercial" in my honey production expectations so it's hard for me to figure just how much I want to do. I'm getting another hive in about 2 weeks but now it's "supposedly" getting "late" for splits. This was SUCH a warm Spring here I think that standard "rules" didn't apply. It'll be interesting to see if we have a long warm Fall too and the bees Can repopulate and refill the hive with stores..... or if the weather stops them...and a Lot of feeding with be necessary for winter. I love it all no matter what ,they just amaze me and delight me SO MUCH. I wish I'd done this my whole life!!! HB

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    FRANKLIN NC
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: TBH Swarm

    Hi! I have a hive that is requeening itself (I can see two queen cells through the window) so I am watching it closely. I do not know if it has swarmed yet or not. The hive still has plenty of bees, but it is not as far along as the other hive that I packaged on the same day.

    --I love it all no matter what ,they just amaze me and delight me SO MUCH. I wish I'd done this my whole life!!!

    Me Too!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Rogue River, OR
    Posts
    32

    Default Re: TBH Swarm (and after)

    Following up to my swarm:

    We are trying to do our bee math. We *know* that on 6/15, when the swarm left, there were at least four capped queen cells, along with some open ones and one that looked like the lid had been taken off.

    Today, we did a brief inspection (light/weather not the best, but it's going to be quite hot for the next few days, so husband wanted to look now). Pretty much all the capped brood has hatched it looks like, so the bees there are gointg to be the bees we have.

    We weren't able to find the four capped cells from before. It's possible we didn't pull the right bar (all four were on the same bar). We did find an open queen cell on one bar, and a capped, brownish one on another. We found no eggs, no larvae.


    Bee math: I don't think the capped cells on 6/15 were new cells, but assuming they were, they should have hatched on 6/23. If these virgin(s) get out and mate, we should see eggs around July 7. I think!

    If we have to wait and see what happens with this cell, that bumps everything out some more. If there were a virgin queen in the hive now, wouldn't she tear down that closed cell?

    We're fussing a bit and trying to figure a drop-dead "get a replacement queen" date. Won't feel right until we see eggs/larvae again!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Rogue River, OR
    Posts
    32

    Default Re: TBH Swarm and afterwards

    We did a full inspection today (6/29). Three of the capped cells were open from the side like someone had scored it with a finger. The cap end was intact but the cell was more or less gone. Not sure if that was was "got here first" queen destruction or bees cleaning up. We found two-three empty cells and one that was papery, brown and very smooth around the top. We got buzzed by a couple girls, but this hive remains pretty docile.

    We also found what we think is a new queen bee -- long, golden, slender, nervous. We haven't found any larvae, and possibly some eggs (very few) on one bar. This time we made notes on the bars of what we found and when. We were quite careful putting bars back in.

    We may/may not have seen eggs, if so only a few and we weren't sure. We marked the bar and figured we could check in about three days for larva.

    If that paper brown cell is going to hatch, I think it will be soon. If there's a queen out and about and *if* she's just emerged, then I'm thinking we have about a couple weeks max before we should see eggs. There's still a LOT of bees in there, very, very few capped brood left (maybe 10), some capped honey, pollen and a bit of nectar. The blackberries are just about done I think, so time to get sugar to feed. If I'm not mistaken, blackberries are "it" for flow here.

    Weather here is quite hot and going to be for a while. No comb collapse though. Lots of activity during the heat of the afternoon. We did open the bottom door (screened bottom).

    This is is the first time we've ever seen what we think is a queen, so that was exciting all by itself.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Rogue River, OR
    Posts
    32

    Default Re: TBH Swarm and afterwards

    On 7/2, we took another look. We'd been feeding, so almost all comb was full of nectar. They have three empty bars to build on. Didn't see the queen this time, didn't see any eggs, or larvae from the "maybe eggs", and the capped cup had not opened.

    We thought maybe we should stop feeding for a bit, even though we think the dearth is starting, so some of the comb opens up for laying -- assuming that queen mated and came back! It's been quite hot (100F-ish).

    I think we should see some laying by the end of this weekend. If we don't, it might be time to quickly requeen. I'm going to ping a couple locals to see if they have queens "just in case".

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Rogue River, OR
    Posts
    32

    Default Re: TBH Swarm and afterwards

    Today (7/13) we went out and took a look. We were worried at first as the hive was really quiet and the first bars we pulled had comb but few bees. Then - ta da! Lots of capped worker brood and larvae.

    Not a single drone cap, it looks to be all workers right now. A laying worker would always produce obvious drone cells, right? They wouldn't cap a drone with a flat worker cap, would they?

    Assuming things are as they appear to be, I think we're good. Bees were very quiet and docile.

    We couldn't find the queen (we suck at this) but she has lots of room to lay.

    We're going to try a quart-sized baggie above the bars -- less nectar (last time we fed, we put out about a gallon a day and they stuffed every cell full of nectar -- a queen couldn't lay even if she wanted to!) and denying access to some other nearby hive that had found "free beer"

    Foragers are bringing in yellow to bright orange pollen. Weather is hot (upper 80s/90s), very dry and I'm pretty sure the blackberry bloom is done.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: TBH Swarm

    Quote Originally Posted by dixieswife View Post
    We'd been feeding, so almost all comb was full of nectar. They have three empty bars to build on. Didn't see the queen this time, didn't see any eggs, or larvae from the "maybe eggs", and the capped cup had not opened.
    Did the still capped queen cell have a big hole in the side? The one in mine that the cap wasn't opened on had a big hole in the side where the first hatched queen must have dispatched her rival.

    Glad you now have a new laying queen!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Rogue River, OR
    Posts
    32

    Default Re: TBH Swarm

    Quote Originally Posted by Colleen O. View Post
    Did the still capped queen cell have a big hole in the side? The one in mine that the cap wasn't opened on had a big hole in the side where the first hatched queen must have dispatched her rival.

    Glad you now have a new laying queen!
    No, it did not have a hole in it. It was completely gone now, so either it was a dud or the new queen took care of it in the past ten days.

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