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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Vista,California,USA
    Posts
    30

    Default Lost My Swarm!!!!! Did i do something wrong??

    Hello folks,

    The other day i caught a nicely sized swarm and dropped them into a nuc. I only had one frame of foundation at that moment.(should've been more prepared) So I put the frame in with them and went to my hives and pulled out a nice frame of honey and pollen. I then returned to the swarm in the nuc and added the drawn frame along with the remaining frames of foundation that were missing.....Closed everything up and let it alone. A few hours later the swarm flew leaving behind a handful of bees in the nuc. My only thought was that upon returning to the nuc the second time to add the remaining frames, i used a few puffs of smoke to help move the bees off where the frames rest on. Did this trigger them leaving?

    Please let me know any thoughts!

    Thankyou,

    Jantsen

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Panama City, Florida, USA
    Posts
    554

    Default Re: Lost My Swarm!!!!! Did i do something wrong??

    A frame of open brood works much better at getting them to stay than pollen and honey. Give them a frame of brood and feed them sugar water or diluted honey next time.

    That said, sometimes they stay and sometimes they leave. You can stack the deck to get them to stay but it does not always work.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Glen Arm,MD
    Posts
    190

    Default Re: Lost My Swarm!!!!! Did i do something wrong??

    maybe they wanted more room. was it a 5 frame deep?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Vista,California,USA
    Posts
    30

    Default Re: Lost My Swarm!!!!! Did i do something wrong??

    "A frame of open brood works much better at getting them to stay than pollen and honey" Thankyou, I didnt know this!

    Yes it was a 5 frame deep nuc.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Loup City, NE
    Posts
    181

    Default Re: Lost My Swarm!!!!! Did i do something wrong??

    J.T. - skip the smoke next time, you didn't need it. Also try to have a least half the frames in your
    box drawn comb, you'll have better results.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,581

    Default Re: Lost My Swarm!!!!! Did i do something wrong??

    I drop my swarms into a medium 10 frame hive with drawn comb. I found this to be less stressful and easier on the bees and me. They are basically a "package" of bees at that point. I haven't had one leave yet. Drawn comb is gold to a beekeeper.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,084

    Default Re: Lost My Swarm!!!!! Did i do something wrong??

    I won't say the smoke is why they left, but a swarm gets organized and oriented by smell so I don't smoke swarms.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Shreveport, LA
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: Lost My Swarm!!!!! Did i do something wrong??

    A queen excluder at the entrance works wonders.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Hampstead, NC USA
    Posts
    608

    Default Re: Lost My Swarm!!!!! Did i do something wrong??

    Quote Originally Posted by Capphd View Post
    A queen excluder at the entrance works wonders.
    Great advice. I caught a nice swarm last Thursday. Put it into a 10 frame deep with a medium above an excluder. I put in 9 frames drawn comb and a frame of open & capped brood. They stayed through the weekend and were gone today. Pisses me off. I thought the frame of brood was a sure way to keep them. I'll be using the excluder to reduce the entrances from now on.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    adair county, kentucky, usa
    Posts
    461

    Default Re: Lost My Swarm!!!!! Did i do something wrong??

    Everyone has their own special way of handling swarms, but none are perfect. My best results comes from moving the swarm a half mile or so from where they were caught. This way the scout bees can't find the swarm to lead them away. Even this doesn't work 100% of the time.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,084

    Default Re: Lost My Swarm!!!!! Did i do something wrong??

    The problem with swarms is not only that every book has a different method, but none of the swarms have read any of the books... sometimes they just don't want to stay. Sometimes you didn't get the queen, but sometimes I'm pretty sure I did, yet they still didn't stay. Sometimes they just walk right into your hive... I keep meaning to try the "sheet" method of getting them in. They seem the most inclined to stay when getting in the box was their decision...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    collbran, co
    Posts
    526

    Default Re: Lost My Swarm!!!!! Did i do something wrong??

    i catch my swarms with two frames of honey let them walk onto the frames then place them into a deep 10 frames and add another on top they stay 90 percent of the time sometimes ill catch them again never caught them the 3rd time they usually don't leave again

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Hampstead, NC USA
    Posts
    608

    Default Re: Lost My Swarm!!!!! Did i do something wrong??

    Well today was a little different in that I caught one of my hives as it was just about to swarm. I just happened to get an inclination to walk over to my hives. I saw one hive with a lot more activity than usual. Initially I thought it was just a lot of new foragers making orientation flights. We all see this enough to know what it looks like. As I got closer I could see waves of bees walking out of the hive and in less than 30 seconds the sky had a lot of bees flying up and around in that twisting motion that swarm take off in. I had a tarp right next to me and I threw it over the entire hive which was 2 deeps and a medium super. I ran and got my smoker and upon returning I could not see nearly the number of flying bees and there were a lot on the tarp.. I smoked them and made a 5 frame nuc, and two single deeps. I didn't take the time to look for the queen and indeed she might be gone. I saw a few opened and closed swarm cells and I put a frame in each split that had a swarm cell. Even if I didn't catch the queen I know I didn't loose nearly the number of bees that would have taken off had I let them all go. Perhaps one of the three has the original queen but I won't even check on this until after 2-3 weeks. By this time I should be able to go into all three without fear of destroying a queen cell etc.
    I almost wanted to just watch the bees swarm. There is nothing like the sound, smell and sight of a swarm of bees IMO. The sheer numbers and the way they are all scattered like sand one second and then gathered in somewhat of a mass the next second is totally amazing. I've seen swarms that have come from a few of my hives fly over me as I was in another part of the yard and that is awesome but I've never actually witnessed a hive in the process of emitting a swarm. I do not know if the queen is generally out of the hive during the beginning of this happening but I think I remember reading that she is usually going to fly out during the later stages of the bees taking off. Again, it doesn't matter to me at this point. I am just curious about the behavior. I think they usually make their initial landing within 90 meters of the emitting hive but I might have this wrong as well. I did read a study that showed the queen from an initial swarm will get replaced within two months. This indicates to me that keeping the queen isn't all that important.
    I looked at a few other hives while I was out there and saw they have been making swarm cells so I split a couple of more hives and made some "queen castles" as well as a couple of nucs. This is the time of year when I fell like I've got no idea what I am doing. I hate to loose bees but I've never been any good at keeping my hives from swarming. Not all swarm but more than I'd like. I have 10 swarm traps around the house and I can usually predict an imminent swarm by seeing scout bees checking these out. Not this time though. I have had no activity near these traps.
    I am again in the predicament where I am asking myself do I want to make bees or honey. Last year a made both but I got a lot of my 800 lbs of honey by taking the swarms I trapped or collected and dumping them into honey producing hives. I didn't do this with all that I collected but I did it with the majority. Talk about some honey making bees now. Take a decent size swarm and dump them into a hive and watch the honey (or wax of course) just appear. I used some swarms to boost nuc populations and to make comb as well. I am a very firm believer in making my own queens. I have had terrible results from purchased queens to the tune of about 5% after three months. I am using very low tech walk away type or swarm cell type queen production right now but I hope to make time to get some real production going just for myself. I am also a big believer in keeping a nuc for every hive. Twenty hives I want twenty nucs or whatever number of hives I happen to be running.

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