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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Smiths Creek, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    12

    Default What to do with a Labour Day Swarm?

    I'm in my first year keeping bees. I have 4 Lang hives. 2 weeks ago I took off the honey supers (they had been on for a month but not one hive even started drawing them out. This led me to believe the flow was over) and reinstalled top feeders. All four hives seemed fairly equal in population and production, honestly they were all bursting with bees.

    So on Sept 2 I found a swarm 10 feet up a pine tree about 20 feet away from my hives. I chopped the branch and dumped them into 2 medium boxes, having foundation frames in the bottom box and the top box empty. I put a gallon baggie feeder on top of the frames and put an inner and outer cover. Today I took a peek inside and of course they drained the syrup, and of course they decided to build freeform comb all over the top box instead of being nice and drawing on the frames for me.

    Question 1: what do i do now? should I remove their comb and put frames in the upper box? should i continue to feed them?
    Question 2: do i need to worry about the hive they came from? I inspected my hives and am positive they came from #3, it had 10 capped queen cells low on the frames.

    Issue #2
    I inspected hive #2 today. it is 2 deeps and a top feeder. found it boiling with bees, stinking of goldenrod, and at least 7 queen cells near the top of the upperbox's frames, another 7 or so lower on the upperbox frames. saw no eggs, but plenty of open and capped larvae. I believe the hive is queenless.

    Question 1: would it be a mistake to allow them to raise their own queen at this point in the year?
    Question 2: (for the sake of learning) would it have been wise for me to have split this hive earlier in the summer? all the books (haha) say you don't really need to worry about swarming the first year, and I'm a touch bewildered.

    Looking forward to hearing as many different answers as can be! Thanks in advance everyone!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,903

    Default Re: What to do with a Labour Day Swarm?

    First...If your bees were built up enough the put on honey supers, why are you still feeding them. This time of year the queen should be shutting down for preparation for Winter, not raising a lot of brood thinking there is a major flow just around the corner, because you are feeding them. Stop feeding them.

    Depending how much comb they have built, you have two options. 1. Leave them, and let them make their own comb, then next Spring, let the queen move into a new box, then do a cutout on the box that they made their own comb. 2. If they have not made a lot of comb, do a cut out now , rubber band or string it to frames.

    The biggest problem with cutting out comb from a new swarm is, they just may abscond. I would lean toward leaving them alone, cut out in the Spring. You don't have a lot of time left this year for them to start over.

    Yes, you do indeed need to worry about the hive they came from. Unless one of those queen cells emerges, and gets mated, and returns safely to the hive, that hive will be queenless. Watch it closely to insure they end up queenright in 10-15 days.

    If you are absolutely ccertain the hive is queenless, you can either obtain a mated queen and introduce, or let them make their own. That is your call, but, this late in the year, I would rather introduce a mated queen, IF, you know they are queenless.

    No, I do not believe you should have split the hive earlier. Perhaps adding the honey supers earlier, or, cutting off the feeding earlier so they would have started gathering pollen and nectar rather than just making brood and preparing to swarm.

    If you saw lots of open and capped larva, then you have a queen.

    Hope this is helpful.

    cchoganjr

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,929

    Default Re: What to do with a Labour Day Swarm?

    Now you know, swarms always start in the top too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,505

    Default Re: What to do with a Labour Day Swarm?

    Never ever leave a swarm in an empty box, they will start comb as soon as they are inside and make a real mess. I suggest a full box of frames and foundation, even better at least a couple frames with old brood comb.

    At any rate, you now have a hive with wild comb and it's probably best to leave it alone for the winter after feeding it up. You are likely to need that queen for the hive that won't have a good one since it's VERY late for proper mating and fall buildup.

    And I agree, quit feeding your hives. If they are light, feed 2:1 syrup late in the month to get them up to weight, or use candy boards for the winter. 1:1 is going to keep the queen laying like crazy, last thing you want right now.

    Peter

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Smiths Creek, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: What to do with a Labour Day Swarm?

    thanks for your input guys. I put the feeders a few weeks ago because at that point they had no honey stores whatsoever. literally no honey in any of the 4 hives. i think my biggest confusion is knowing whats supposed to be happening right now in my area. is this late summer or early fall and when do i have to really worry about their honey provisions? another thing im trying to figure out is how to gauge a hive's population, and how large of a population is needed this time of year in SW MI?
    thanks again for all your input

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