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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Cordova, TN, USA
    Posts
    216

    Default Get a swarm or get a nuc/package

    I'm in Memphis, TN...

    Now that I have a hive vacancy (they left), I need some bees to fill it. I have 2 nucs coming to replace the two hives I lost earlier.

    The nucs will be available around the first of May.

    My question is - would I potentially find a swarm earlier than that, or should I order more bees?

    I'd like to get the bees as soon as possible so as to give them the best start possible.

    Advice? Go for a swarm, or purchase bees (if any are available at this point)?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,765

    Default Re: Get a swarm or get a nuc/package

    Order AND collect swarms.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Mirabel, Québec, Canada
    Posts
    456

    Default Re: Get a swarm or get a nuc/package

    Forgive the pun, but swarms are "freebies" that, while occasionally handy, cannot be relied upon. I'd go with Mr.Beeman here: order what you need, collect swarms as an extra.
    www.apisrustica.com (French-only website) Bee Breeding: Canadian nuclei & queens
    www.facebook.com/Apis.rustica

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Cordova, TN, USA
    Posts
    216

    Default Re: Get a swarm or get a nuc/package

    Thing is, I don't want 5 hives. If'n I get extra bees, what does one do with them? I know this may be a stupid question but I really don't know the answer.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,765

    Default Re: Get a swarm or get a nuc/package

    Yeah... that IS a stupid question. lol
    Sell the extra bees to pay for your purchased bees.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,765

    Default Re: Get a swarm or get a nuc/package

    Our pollination service fee pays for the packages, the honey bottles and then some. The sale of the honey is all profit.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN USA
    Posts
    685

    Default Re: Get a swarm or get a nuc/package

    Buy what you need, trap for free-bee expansions.

    If you are dead set on wanting 2 more hives (or replacing 2 deadouts), then buy two nucs/packages/etc.

    Swarm trapping is an inexact science, and if you rely on it you'll likely end up with nothing to show for it (or if you only want 1 small swarm, you'll catch 10 monster swarms, just the way it goes).

    My first hive made it through the winter quite nicely, and I've ordered a nuc (which when I ordered it last year was either going to start a second hive, or replace the current one if things went south). I'm building nucs/bait hives to put out to catch some swarms if I can. Ideally I'd like to get up to 4 hives this year. If I catch more swarms than that, I've got offsite locations ready to go as well. If I don't catch any swarms at all, then hopefully between the two hives I'll have I can scrounge up enough frames for a split.
    Beekeeper since 2013. Read my bee blog at:
    http://harrisonbayhoney.blogspot.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    London, United Kingdom
    Posts
    204

    Default Re: Get a swarm or get a nuc/package

    I would go for swarms capture in bait hives everytime.
    Put out as many as you can and sell any you get that you don't want to keep.
    In most cases the swarms are from a successful enough colony that they need to swarm. The bees are also already adapted to your local area with regard to weather, seasons, and forage.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Mirabel, Québec, Canada
    Posts
    456

    Default Re: Get a swarm or get a nuc/package

    Quote Originally Posted by rweaver7777 View Post
    Thing is, I don't want 5 hives. If'n I get extra bees, what does one do with them? I know this may be a stupid question but I really don't know the answer.
    You could always try to combine them to give a population boost to your ordered nucs.
    www.apisrustica.com (French-only website) Bee Breeding: Canadian nuclei & queens
    www.facebook.com/Apis.rustica

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Stillwell, KS
    Posts
    649

    Default Re: Get a swarm or get a nuc/package

    Catching swarms is easy and a blast, funner then you know what, you'll wonder why you ever bought bees.

    And, yes given the latitude swarming should start early to mid April most years.

    Good luck. ....Don

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
    Posts
    2,887

    Default Re: Get a swarm or get a nuc/package

    In your geographic area swarms or a trapout would be easy to get.

    Go to a local nature preserve or cemetery on a warm spring day and try lining some bees back to their colony. It may take a few days of effort to find a feral colony, but it will be a good learning experience for you.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    fairfield, sc
    Posts
    129

    Default Re: Get a swarm or get a nuc/package

    I haven't had a chance catch any swarms as I was able to keep mine from swarming last year, but am looking forward to that chance. weird, ??? With the almost inevitable 30% loss of hives yearly, having 4 might not be a bad thing as you can always combine, strengthen existing hives, or sell off what's not needed every year. A swam usually has the 'older' queen and is in 'unknown' status - but some of them are still good for another year or two. If not, you can always make a split from those genetics and re-queen the original hive back with it's daughter.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN USA
    Posts
    685

    Default Re: Get a swarm or get a nuc/package

    Quote Originally Posted by AugustC View Post
    I would go for swarms capture in bait hives everytime.
    Put out as many as you can and sell any you get that you don't want to keep.
    In most cases the swarms are from a successful enough colony that they need to swarm. The bees are also already adapted to your local area with regard to weather, seasons, and forage.
    There's no way to know that. If there are any other beekeepers in your area its just as possible that the swarm you caught came out of some other guy's mismanaged hive. They could be an absconded package. Just because you caught them as a swarm doesn't mean they are in any way adapated to your local environment any more than a package you bought.
    Beekeeper since 2013. Read my bee blog at:
    http://harrisonbayhoney.blogspot.com

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,785

    Default Re: Get a swarm or get a nuc/package

    Catching swarms is like fishing. If you have a lot of good spots and you know how to fish really well, then maybe you can count on fishing for your supper, but if not, you might want to stop at the grocery store AND go fishing...

    I would plan to do both...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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