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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Lutz, FL, USA
    Posts
    77

    Default How to not to catch a swarm

    It's been raining a lot lately, so finally today I managed to check on a split that I made about a month ago. The split was doing great so I grabbed a couple of frame of honey from my strongest hive (I left them two suppers packed with honey) and gave them to the split and put the empty frames in the place of the full ones and closed both hives as fast as I could not to provoke robbing. I noticed a couple of bees fighting but nothing out of control. I was done. I went to change oil on my wife's car. While draining the old oil I noticed that there were a lot of bees in the air. I said: "Hmm that's weird!" and went back to changing oil. They did the same thing to me yesterday and I was not about to go back. I was done beekeeping for today. Ten minutes later my son pops his head out of the house, observes me for a couple of seconds and then says: " There is a lot of bees flying around" I gave him a noncommittal "Hmmm" and tried to concentrate on the draining oil. After a couple seconds he added: "And they are also hanging in a beard" I gave another laconic "Aha" without a look back at the hives since I knew that they do like to hang in a small beard on the front of the hive after I check it. "... on your shop" he added a couple second later. It took another second to sink in and then I was done changing oil. I looked back and sure enough a descent size beard was handing in the eave of the roof of my shop. The strongest hive swarmed! Why do they have to do it to me? I was done sweating for today! I was positively not enjoying myself. I rushed home took a lighting fast shower just to try to get all that car oil off me. Donned my beekeeping jeans and shirt and veil again and went back outside. The beard was still there. I stood there for a second contemplating the task at hand and how woefully unprepared I was for catching a swarm at this particular juncture. I didn't have a single empty box left, no drawn frames, no bottom boards - nothing. I had a cardboard box and three green drone plastic frames which after years of unsuccessfully trying to coerce bees to draw them out I gave up and stuck them on the shelf. So cardboard box it was. I went in the shop got the box and steeped outside again. In the 15 seconds that it took me to perform that task the swarm was gone! There were a couple of bees still crawling in the spot where a huge beard has been hanging just mere seconds ago. There were quite a few bees still flying in the air but no swarm in sight. I wasn't amused. I spent the next ten minutes walking around the yard with my head up trying to find a tree that they could've settled on. No luck. They were gone. Well, good riddance. I was done beekeeping for today anyway! I went back to the shop. Right before I got in I saw something moving on the ground out of the corner of my eye. It was them. Just crawling around on the ground in a big heap! In that spot I have pine bark mulch so it was not easy to spot them, especially if you walk around like an idiot with you head up. Well, I still had to coerce them into the box. I put a stick right next to the pile of bees and leaned it up against the box but they didn't seem to be too interested in it. I sat there observing them for a while and thinking how I'm gonna scoop them up from the ground. Meanwhile some of the bees started taking to flight again. It thinned the crowed somewhat. I noticed a bunch of bees running frantically around another slightly larger bee that looked suspiciously like a queen And it was a queen and it was dead as a doorknob. Scrawny little thing, I would've never even thought it to be a queen if not for all the bees making all that fuss around her carcass. Well, now I really WAS done beekeeping for today. I picked her up by her wings and brought her inside for post mortum. A couple little zealots tried to follow me but I was not in the mood. Even now it was hard to tell right away if it was really a queen. So I snapped a couple of pictures and called it a day. One thing that I wonder though - how did it die? Was it the fall that did her in? You would think that there would still be some signs of life if that was the case. Did her admiring zealots kill her? Why? File it under mystery



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    Last edited by ArtSmart; 07-21-2013 at 05:11 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Greene, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    602

    Default Re: How to not to catch a swarm

    Are you positive this is a queen? It is kind of curled up and hard to tell. What happened to the rest of the bees? Where you able to get them into a box, or did they go back to the hive?
    No one famous.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    3,044

    Default Re: How to not to catch a swarm

    Thats a queen, looks like a virgin, maybe multiple virgins were duking it out.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Lutz, FL, USA
    Posts
    77

    Default Re: How to not to catch a swarm

    I'm pretty sure it is a queen. The legs give it away. They always look different to me compared to a regular bee's legs. Not sure how to describe it. Kind of almost spidery. The rest of the bees came back and hung on the front of the hive and then slowly dissipated over the course of the day. There were still some of them crawling on the ground and on the spot on the roof.

    I was thinking the same thing about a virgin queen, but the thorax looks pretty worn out. No hair left on it. I read that bees will stop feeding the queen and will chase her around for days to get her to loose weight when they are getting ready to swarm. If that's the case here that was one heck of a workout.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Vancouver, WA
    Posts
    129

    Default Re: How to not to catch a swarm

    I caught a swarm earlier this year, I found a dead queen like you did in the bottom board. Few days later I inspected and found eggs.
    Bees sometime swarm with multiple queens, once they find home. They sort each other out.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Lutz, FL, USA
    Posts
    77

    Default Re: How to not to catch a swarm

    That's interesting. I didn't know that. I thought that it is the old queen that leaves the hive when a swarm comes out.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Lutz, FL, USA
    Posts
    77

    Default Re: How to not to catch a swarm

    Just a follow up. Today checked the hive. The old queen is still there. Laying like a machine gun. So that must have been a virgin queen. A point of interest - after the swarm dissipated I had a cluster of bees (about 15-20 bees) hanging on the outside of the hive where they came from. They were clustered on the top vent of the telescopic cover doing pretty much nothing except for chewing the edges of the hole. They stayed there whole last week. Today I evicted them. Shook them off and put the cover for a while into a different spot. They didn't come back.

    Another unrelated pointer. If you have a top cover with an overhang (like a gabled roof) look on both sides of the overhang before grabbing it and trying to lift. As it turns out wasps sometimes hang a nest on the back side right at the top under the overhang of the roof. I forgot how wasp stings hurt way worse than bees'. Today I was reminded. Later I accidentally squished a bee and it stung me right under my fingernail. Even that didn't come close to the wasp sting on the pain scale.

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