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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Limestone, TN
    Posts
    67

    Default Mentally Ill Bees...

    Well...I've posted a couple of times this season about my bees behaving very mysteriously by swarming, then returning to their hive. This has happened three times before this posting, then yesterday again. BUT...the one yesterday was from the queenless half of a split I made a few weeks ago. Keeping in mind that there are NO queens to be purchased in my area, when I made the split, I placed in a frame of brood and also another frame of brood that I was sure had eggs. I inspected a week later and there were two nice capped queen cells. I felt they were doing well. A couple more weeks have passed and the bees were acting swarmy for a couple of days...hanging on the entrance, LOTS of bees flying close to entrance...just way, way busier than any of the other colonies. Had it been any other hive, I would have bet on a swarm. But, this one being hopefully newly queened from within, I didn't expect them to take off.

    Take off they did, yesterday. It was a very large swarm and they went about 15 yards away to a rose bush (seems to be a favorite plant for all my swarms). As always I was unprepared, even having to take the time to build the frames and insert the foundation. They stayed clustered, so I went ahead and prepared to catch them...having waited a reasonable period of time to allow them to return (as another colony had done 3 times). But, first I went to take a look into the hive they came from to see if perhaps their new queen had mated and was laying eggs and they felt crowded resulting in the swarm. I also hoped to borrow a frame with eggs for the about-to-be caught swarm. Not so...there was no sign of a queen, no eggs, no larvae, no anything...just a tiny bit of capped brood left and thousands upon thousands of bees. I did also note that the previously capped queen cells were gone and there was 1 queen cup.

    As I was looking into their hive, the nearby swarm filled the air once again, and returned to the hive....but it's obvious they are ready to go again (we are having rain today and predicted also for tomorrow). They should stay during the rainy time, but come one little ray of sun...I'm sure they are off.

    Any opinions/suggestions????? I just can't figure out 1) why these swarms are returning and 2) why a queenless split bailed out then returned.

    I really need help!!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: Mentally Ill Bees...

    Darndest thing I have heard of lately... I think I would have a queen excluder under the deep, and a really small entrance. I take it there is no brood in the box?? might be good if you had a frame of brood to add.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Limestone, TN
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: Mentally Ill Bees...

    The swarm came from a split and it was the half without the queen. I put a frame of brood and also another frame of brood that I was sure had eggs. A little later there were two nice capped queen cells, which have now vanished, but there is that queen cup. Nothing to put in it though because there are no eggs, no larvae, nothing but just a handful of capped brood left. I'm gonna have to find another frame with eggs from another hive I'm sure and should probably do that the very minute the rainy weather lets up. But...the first ray of sunshine those bees see, they are gonna bail again...I've wondered what happened to those capped queen cells and if there is a virgin queen I cannot find. I think maybe a virgin queen could fit through the queen excluder at the bottom before she is mated and that's why I didn't try one, but I don't know if that's true or not. Scouts keep investigating the box I left where they swarmed before...maybe that's where they'll go.....yeah, right...lol. Not all from the same hive, but this makes 4 times I've had a swarm leave, cluster anywhere from 6 feet away to 50 yards or more away, then return....makes no sense.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    killen,al
    Posts
    198

    Default Re: Mentally Ill Bees...

    Seal them in their hive tonight after the last bee is back in the hive, then burn them all. Or you could move them, and confuse them. confusing bees that are about to swarm is always a blast. If you know someone a few miles away that will let you put the hive there for a few days.The scout bees that are looking for a new home will be let down the most. Just keep moving them every four days until the flow is over.The scout bee will fly from sun up untill dark to try to locate a new home. Just keep moving them until They say the hell with it.

    .

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Limestone, TN
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: Mentally Ill Bees...

    Burn my bees? Surely you're kidding.....

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    DFW area, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,058

    Thumbs Up Re: Mentally Ill Bees...

    My guess is that the bees still have a strong swarm impulse, and the split was not effective in eliminating that impulse. They swarm but have no queen to join them, so they go back into the hive. Sometimes the queen is one of the last bees to leave the hive.....maybe you have a bashful or injured (virgin) queen. Give them another frame of brood and feed them, that is about all you can do.

    If the queen is inferior and/or can't fly, you need to remedy the situation. If you don't give them another frame of brood (with eggs), you could do a newspaper combine with the original colony (use a queen excluder with the newspaper to exclude the queen if you can't find her). JMO

    Yes, I know a virgin queen can go through an excluder. That is the risk in recombining them. I would give them more brood to see what happens.
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    killen,al
    Posts
    198

    Default Re: Mentally Ill Bees...

    Quote Originally Posted by Lburou View Post
    My guess is that the bees still have a strong swarm impulse, and the split was not effective in eliminating that impulse. They swarm but have no queen to join them, so they go back into the hive. Sometimes the queen is one of the last bees to leave the hive.....maybe you have a bashful or injured (virgin) queen. Give them another frame of brood and feed them, that is about all you can do.

    If the queen is inferior and/or can't fly, you need to remedy the situation. If you don't give them another frame of brood (with eggs), you could do a newspaper combine with the original colony (use a queen excluder with the newspaper to exclude the queen if you can't find her). JMO

    Yes, I know a virgin queen can go through an excluder. That is the risk in recombining them. I would give them more brood to see what happens.
    yes, I'm kidding about burning your bees! It is heart breaking to try so hard to build them up so that you can have honey only to find that they want to swarm. I've tryed the swarm pervention that you will read about on this forum, but the bees will swarm any way. Swarm traps are a crap shoot, but when they work it is a great feeling. It is true that each hive has a scout committee that will go out, and find a new home for the swarm. Sometimes it takes days, and sometimes weeks. It is just a thought that if I had several locations then I would move these swarm happy hives around until the swarm season was over. It would be pay back for what they do to me.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Limestone, TN
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: Mentally Ill Bees...

    Well, it's not even so much that I want their honey (though it would be quite nice to have at least a taste in the second year!)...but it's just as much or more that I would like the bees to stabilize and work in their colony as they are supposed to. Of course everyone knows that is "ideal" and not always reality. We've had a LOT of rain today so it was no go for the girls, but I'm guessing tomorrow will be their take off day. If they are anywhere near within reach, I plan to brush them off whatever they are on and stir them up right good and I'm making myself believe they will fly back home once again...we'll see. I can't get even a decent hour this weekend to borrow a frame of brood with eggs for them but might find a window tomorrow (fingers crossed). Thank goodness I don't have to burn them...LOL

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