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Thread: Swarm Size

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Jefferson Co, TX

    Default Swarm Size

    Ok, really new to bee keeping here. Build a top bar last week, made a nuc in the middle of week and now looking at scraps thinking "Yea enough here to make another Top Bar and another Nuc."

    But about swarms, been watching bees for years. Had them invade the houses I was living in, had them perch under the decks of another house several times, chasing them away or wiping them out. Sorry but one apparently had Africanized genes they exploded as a pair of Blackhawks passed over at 300 feet just after my kids got on the school bus. When I went to wipe them out I was chased me over 120 yards, thank god for a bug jacket with a hood.

    But with those many swarms and the ones I have seen in the fields while mowing, hunting, and such, I rarely see large basketball swarms. Most will fit inside a old quart size coffee can, maybe fill one and a half. The largest was that mean swarm and they would have filled an old gallon coffee can and had some left over.

    First, are these swarms large enough to collect and have a chance to establish a hive in the middle of the summer and make it through the winter (SE of Houston in Beaumont area)?

    Second, if I collect them in a Nuc (5 bar size) should I keep them in that or try to transfer them to a top bar?

    Third, the top bar is 48 inch long, but has two dividers. If I move them into the top bar, is a 10 or 12 bar space within it ok, need more or less?

    Fourth if I move them into half the top bar, can I establish another colony on the other side of the top bar.

    Thanks in advance for all the advise, awesome forum here.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Indianapolis, IN, USA

    Default Re: Swarm Size

    Capture a swarm any opportunity you have, regardless of size. Worst case is you take one or more swarms and combine with one of your established hives. Time of year is somewhat a non-issue with swarms, because the swarm has already committed to the move - you're just jumping in to give them a new home. If you don't capture them, they'll still have to fend through the winter, but perhaps in a not-so-ideal environment. Either way, they'll make it or they won't.

    If your nuc is a suitable size for the swarm, then keep them there until the outgrow it. Whether that's this fall or the spring is up to the hive's health. I always capture swarms in what I consider their permanent equipment unless it's a fall swarm, when I might use nucs for overwintering smaller swarms.

    Check with your local beek crowd and get opinions from experienced help in your area.


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