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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Hudson, New York
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    Default Treat swarm as new, or established colony?

    If I happen to catch a swarm, do I treat it as I would a package, or as a more established colony, given their numbers? And do you medicate them, or leave them alone the first year? Thanks for any advice.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Crestview, Florida
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    82

    Default Re: Treat swarm as new, or established colony?

    I'd treat them like a package, feed them till they get some comb built and are bringing in stores...if you have brood comb, frames of honey to give them that'll help a lot.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
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    2,582

    Default Re: Treat swarm as new, or established colony?

    Package for sure.
    It's best to hive them in drawn brood comb, but it isn't necessary. Like USMCOD said feed them, but feed them internally above the inner cover with a bordman type feeder.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
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    5,368

    Default Re: Treat swarm as new, or established colony?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Beeman View Post
    .... but feed them internally above the inner cover with a bordman type feeder.
    Boardman feeder above the inner cover???

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
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    2,955

    Default Re: Treat swarm as new, or established colony?

    I treat any colony that is less than a deep and a medium as a starter. I say that because I captured swarm last summer that filled two deeps. So I have just set some guidelines according to size and strength that determines what is a starter and what is a production colony. once it is 2 boxes full it is a production hive. Some of my swarms, I captured 13 of them last year, never made it to being production colonies last year. others where at production strength in 6 to 8 weeks. One, the large one, actually attempted to swarm again. I was able to harvest a medium of honey from them by the end of the season. I never treated that huge swarm like a starter becasue it never acted like a starter.

    I was very fortunate with the first swarm I ever captured. I placed it in a top bar hive that was mounted on a stand with a screen bottom. I was able to observe this swarm through that screen every day. Now nearly all beekeepers are familiar with the cluster a swarm makes. but I am not sure how many realize that cluster does not stop when they find a cavity to build in. the cluster simply moves. but the bees remain. clustered. It is in the center of this cluster they begin to build a comb. As this comb is enlarged they will start adjacent combs. the entire comb network expands and the queen is actually filing every cell with brood. it is not until that brood emerges that bees will start using any of that comb for stores. all resources go toward building comb or producing brood and feeding the members of the colony. I was not able to actually see comb for almost three weeks. it was entirely concealed by the cluster.

    Since then I have been aware of what I now call, clustering on the comb, behavior of a immature colony. It is one of the significant behaviors I watch for to determine when a colony has matured. A starter or immature colony will be clustered. an immature one will not. I have observed it time and tie again. place even a large swarm in a box full of already drawn comb. and at least for a short period of time they will pick a location. usually some corner and cluster in it. Over time the queen is in that cluster laying as the brood space expands the bees spread out. but they will not break up this cluster. In the case of a mated queen in a box with a large swarm and all drawn comb. this may take only days.

    The huge swarm I captured never clustered. They went directly to building a proper brood nest and within a week I had 7 nearly perfectly filled frames of brood and the nicest brood nest I have seen in any hive. The queen then moved up to the next box and eventually had 12 frames of brood. Within weeks that colony had 4 boxes and produced a medium of honey for me to harvest. In comparison to my first swarm. it spent an entire summer and never reached production strength. It nearly failed over winter and was re queened the following spring. it completely built out the top bar last Summer and I actually took a couple of frames of honey from it.

    How you manage a swarm can vary widely. But as a rule treat it like a starter or package. Watch for that clustering effect. I personally think it is one of the most reliable indications of just where a colony is and what they are ready for. Also notice as the cluster breaks up the bees begin to gain attitude. To me that is actually a welcome sign. it means the bees are moving out of mere attempting to survive to having built a hive and defending it.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
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    2,582

    Default Re: Treat swarm as new, or established colony?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Boardman feeder above the inner cover???
    Sure, why not?
    Real simple... just place another empty medium or deep body on top of the inner cover (notch down) and then your top cover. Or just place your feeder jar over the hole in the inner cover.
    Keeps robbing down to a minumum or prevents it alltogether.

    These two hives on the right are fed this way. Notice the inner cover between supers.
    1796416_284155345074686_165118795_n.jpg

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Hudson, New York
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    4

    Default Re: Treat swarm as new, or established colony?

    Great advice. Thank you all.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,655

    Default Re: Treat swarm as new, or established colony?

    Swarm bees have their bellies full of nectar so that when they find a place to call home, they are full and ready to draw wax right away. Treat them as a swarm, hive them on foundation or foundationless frames to they will draw right away. Swarms are a very good way to get comb drawn. If you give them any drawn comb, they will deposit their bellies into the drawn comb instead of drawing wax right away. As they draw the comb, it gives the queen a chance to come into laying condition as well. So, I hive them on foundation, and give them a feeder to keep them drawing, if I'm not in a strong nectar flow at the moment.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Bertie County,NC
    Posts
    870

    Default Re: Treat swarm as new, or established colony?

    I hive them and steal a frame of honey from an established hive and give them and let them bee

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Liberty, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    167

    Default Re: Treat swarm as new, or established colony?

    Quote Originally Posted by kirschde View Post
    If I happen to catch a swarm, do I treat it as I would a package, or as a more established colony, given their numbers? And do you medicate them, or leave them alone the first year? Thanks for any advice.
    What I have been doing is catching as many as possible. I do not medicate them and there is no need to feed them. As long as they don't come from someone's fed colony a feral hive won't swarm until there is a good likelihood of a flow. I don't feed or treat. I lose about half the first year swarms on a normal year. After that losses go down. You will find that bees from different locations will look and survive a little differently. I trap over 5 counties in Indiana. 65% of my established colonies come from 1 township in 1 county. They are just more hardy.

    Just jump in... You are probably going to have fun and catch bees.
    Jason Bruns
    LetMBee.com YouTube

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Liberty, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    167

    Default Re: Treat swarm as new, or established colony?

    Proof is better. This is the hiving of 1203 back in 2012.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TkBn...e_gdata_player
    The only difference in what I do now is that I hive the bees in the top box of a stack of 3 deeps. The bottom 2 deeps are full of foundationless frames.
    Here is a picture of 1203 on 2/18/14. All that poo showered all over the front of the hive means they are still alive. They were never fed or treated.

    Swarms from good stock don't need feeding. If they came from a feral hive no one fed them, and they were hardy enough to swarm. It takes an industrious healthy hardy feral hive to swarm. Besides... You catch them for free.... No need to start dumping money into them.
    Jason Bruns
    LetMBee.com YouTube

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,084

    Default Re: Treat swarm as new, or established colony?

    I usually give a swarm a frame of open brood to anchor them, and a frame of honey so they have some stores to work with if it rains for a few days and they can't forage and then I leave them alone. I guess if you think treating is important you'll have to sort that out. I never treat any of them, swarms or established colonies...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    portland, oregon, usa
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Treat swarm as new, or established colony?

    I really enjoy learning new things about these amazing creatures. Thanks for sharing your observations.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lincolnton, NC
    Posts
    1,107

    Default Re: Treat swarm as new, or established colony?

    I agree with Ray that swarms are the best way to get drawn comb. I almost always hive them on just foundation.
    Lawrence Heafner
    15 hives; 15 years; TF for 10; Zone 7B

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