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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Callaway, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    49

    Default Odd Swarm Trap Activity

    This Spring started out like any other for swarms but was running about a month late due to the continuing cooler weather. About the first half of May I saw several scout bees coming and going from a trap in my back yard and within a day the swarm came buzzing in as usual. The last two weeks of May I caught a swarm each week from a small five frame nuc I had placed in town while out in the rural area where I keep my bees I started noticing some strange behavior.

    Not one of my surviving hives even attempted a swarm cell and the last time I checked about two weeks ago they still haven't formed one which is odd in and of itself, but the activity around my traps has me totally baffled. If I observe a trap most of them would appear to be occupied. There is enough activity for me to believe a swarm has settled in. Once I observed a worker removing a dead bee from a trap and entrance guard activity yet when I went back that evening to remove the trap no bees remained inside. On another occasion I watched a bee bringing in pollen yet when I went that evening again no bees were in the trap. Yesterday I watched as at least 100 bees (and yes I counted them) went inside a trap within a 10 minute period and yet this morning there were maybe 50 bees in the trap when I popped the top.

    I have at least a half dozen traps all showing this exact same activity. Lots of scouts, more than I have ever seen in fact at one time in any previous captures and what appears to be actual hive activity but no swarm.

    I thought at first it was just robbing but the frames of comb I have inside the traps is not showing signs of being chewed any. In some cases bees are even remaining in the traps over night as I observed at least half a dozen bees hanging out around the entrance of a trap in my back yard well after the sun set this evening.

    I don't think we have had the usual swarm activity because I have only received one swarm call this year and it turned out to be an impossible trap out. The two swarms I caught in the city were very small but then again I only had a small trap out there anyway so I might have missed any big ones.

    Just not the usual swarm activity I have gotten used to.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,793

    Default Re: Odd Swarm Trap Activity

    These are all normal activities in the world of swarm trapping. I have counted over 100 bees killed during scouting behavior at a trap and yet still no swarm ever arrived. I also at present have three traps being scouted for weeks at one location, but no swarm ever arrives. I caught three at this site earlier in the season. I have only caught about half this year compared to last year.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Salem, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    54

    Default Re: Odd Swarm Trap Activity

    I set a swarm trap and also observed the exact activity as you. The trap was busy for a week or so and then I noticed they were all gone. I opened the trap to find it full of new white comb but no bees. My good hives also have not tried to swarm yet and I have been using a community feeder in the yard since April. I guess its just an odd year for the bees and reaffirms to me that there really is no normal: the bees do what the bees want-period.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Callaway, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    49

    Default Re: Odd Swarm Trap Activity

    Thanks for the replies. odfrank I guess I have just not seen such heavy scout activity before but I have only been trapping for a couple of years. I caught another swarm this afternoon but again it seems only my traps nearer to civilization are actually catching anything.

    bmat555 - it has been an odd year. Maybe the bees are just cautious after last years drought. I know I am!!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Cache, Utah, USA
    Posts
    61

    Default Re: Odd Swarm Trap Activity

    I too have seen the same behavior. This being my first year I must say I've been ecstatic at the prospect of a swarm moving in to having my dreams dashed upon the rocks of despair when they decide to stop shopping...........It's kinda funny that it resembles my personal relationships. I guess women are women everywhere.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Kingsville, OH
    Posts
    959

    Default Re: Odd Swarm Trap Activity

    My bait boxes are full,,,and now I need to setup more bait boxes,,,dnag, LOL.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Callaway, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    49

    Default Re: Odd Swarm Trap Activity

    The primary swarms jumped on my Northern most traps like crazy this weekend. I captured four swarms in traps and while watching the third swarm which was a good size 18 trying to fit in a size 6 box I glance 20 foot over and saw the largest swarm I have ever seen hanging off a small elm tree. That swarm was easily two basketball sizes if not three. After I captured it and put it in a couple of brood boxes I went back over to the spot and there was at least a grapefruit sized swarm of returning scouts there already. I didn't lose more than a couple bees as I had a 50 gallon tupperware box with me, I just cut the limb off below the swarm and dropped the entire thing into the box and moved it to one of my bee yards. The only thing I can figure is this huge swarm was heading for that particular trap and arrived a bit later than the one that was funneling into it when I arrived on the scene. The trap is at least half a mile or more from any bees I know of so it just seems like too much coincidence for it to have randomly stopped there otherwise.

    The down side is I am pretty convinced the huge swarm was from one of my large hives. I haven't went into the brood box to look but the traffic coming and going from it is noticeably lessened. I haven't checked it in a few weeks as I mentioned above because I thought I was past the danger swarm period. OOPS. Better get in there and make sure I don't get any after swarms.

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