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Thread: They swarmed!!!

  1. #1
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    Default They swarmed!!!

    Those buggers.

    I 50/50 split my strong Russian hive this weekend. I also tampered with them the next day, wanting to equalize the hives a little better, I took a honey super off the mother hive and put it on the new hive. After that, the mother hive was congregating suspiciously all over the front of the hive. Sure enough, today, WAY WAY WAY up in a pine tree where no one can get to them outside of probably a fire ladder, is the swarm.

    My only consolation is I took that honey super off just before they sucked it all up. Hopefully anyway.

    Well, there goes that dilemma. I thought maybe I inadvertently swapped their queen too since the hive was buzzing loudly. But obviously, if they swarmed, they still have their queen with them.

    DARN. That was a great hive. Overwintered and everything.

    I don't know if they left a queen cell in the mother hive. I know I put the frames with the queen cells - that I could see anyway, I didn't go into the bottom brood box - in the new hive.

    They wouldn't have swarmed without making sure they left a queen cell behind, right?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: They swarmed!!!

    Oh, NO!

    Do you have the resources to quickly put out a swarm trap? When they are up in ball they are just sending out new-home finders who will be reporting back on their finds over the next day or so.

    Swarm trap can be a deep body (base and lid strapped on to it tightly) with one or two empty drawn combs (for the home-like smell), some queen lure if you have it, or lemongrass oil or dead-queen extract (yuck!) if available. Place it 10-15 feet high facing south, with entrance slightly reduced.

    Good luck!


    Edited to add: they didn't need to leave a queen cell behind (though they probably did unless you have been removing them). All that is necessary is a suitably-aged young larva or egg for the remaining bees to cook up an emergency queen cell, or two.

    Are you sure that these are your bees? Perhaps they are transients from some one else?
    Enj.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: They swarmed!!!

    Well, I have some honey and pollen frames I was saving to use with a new queen, and an extra medium and hive stand and lid. I'll throw those on top of the chicken run which seems to fit the bill pretty well and is right near them. Thanks.

    Doubt it will work, but it's worth a try.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: They swarmed!!!

    I would NOT use frames with honey as that may excite robbing, not homesteading. The best would be frames that formerly had honey and brood in them, but are empty now. I suppose pollen would be ok. It's the smell that attracts them to look inside and see if the cavity size is appropriate. They are thinking they will build their own comb, so the don't need the architecture of frames, foundation, etc. that we beekeepers think essenetial.

    Do you have some empty drawn combs, just two to three, to put in the swarm box? Even an old chunk of empty comb, rubber-banded into a frame might work. (It's just like real-estate staging, more than anything else.)

    A single empty medium may not be large enough Can you make it two mediums? Tom Seeley found the preferred size was about the size of a bushel basket, which is close to a deep. You can use any sort of a box, not necessarily official bee equipment. It just to be the right size, with a good top and bottom, that "bee-home smell", smallish access, up a bit and facing south.

    Enj

  5. #5
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    Default Re: They swarmed!!!

    Okay.

    I have 2 mediums but I don't have comb for 2 mediums. I have 2 or 3 empty built up combs, a few foundationless, 2 plastic drone combs, and the rest honey & pollen for one super. So I can go in there, pull all but the 2 or 3 empty combs and a couple foundationless, and stick another empty medium box on top. Would that work?

    I can leave one honey frame if that would help at all.

    Edit: Actually I had about 5 built up empty frames. So I pulled the honey frames out and put an assortment of drawn comb, foundationless frames, and plastic drone comb scattered throughout the 2 medium boxes. The boxes are probably 50% full of frames, otherwise there's a nice empty space in there for them.

    Well, it's a longshot, but who knows, better than doing nothing.

    I don't know which hive they came out of - the mother hive or the new split - but it was probably one of them, not from someone else.

    They were buzzing loudly when I first saw them, now they're quiet.
    Last edited by NewbeeInNH; 06-09-2014 at 09:30 AM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: They swarmed!!!

    Okay, well, I stepped outside just as they were flying off. As they flew over my head, over my trees, and over the neighbor's trees, I waved goodbye to them and wished them well. It really was kind of cool, a storm cloud of bees.

    So. Now I have empty nest syndrome.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: They swarmed!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by NewbeeInNH View Post
    Okay, well, I stepped outside just as they were flying off. As they flew over my head, over my trees, and over the neighbor's trees, I waved goodbye to them and wished them well. It really was kind of cool, a storm cloud of bees.

    So. Now I have empty nest syndrome.

    you didn't try to tang em? LOL

  8. #8
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    richland center, wisconsin USA
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    Default Re: They swarmed!!!

    It happened to me, should have done the split on sat because on blue monday; I dont see the Queen and now lots of cells to harvest.. It happens, you can only learn to not let it happen where it cripples your set up. All a part of learning ...toomany.jpg
    "Anytime you see someone more successful than you are, they are doing something you aren't."

  9. #9
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    Default Re: They swarmed!!!

    Cells that are open with a distinct hole and no larvae along with capped ones at the the bottom frame...what state are they in? I have seen that on my hives as well.

    I thought ones that had a Queen emerge were a little more jagged around the hole or had a trap door. Ones that are chewed out to kill the cell seem to have holes on the side.

    What about the ones that perfectly symmetrical,smooth holes at the tip? Are they ones bees have started and abandoned or what?
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  10. #10
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    Default Re: They swarmed!!!

    Beeonefarms, guess what. I did my split on Saturday and it didn't matter. I guess they were already bent on swarming, and they weren't going to let a little split with probably established queen cells now lost in never never land going to hold them back.

    And WBVC, that's what I saw in my hive too - what looked like empty queen cups. And I thought: huh. They must have made them just in case.

    Sneaky little things. They're all smiling in your face, and then you turn your back, and bam, they're outta there.

  11. #11
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    Knox Co, Ohio, USA
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    Default Re: They swarmed!!!

    As you found out splitting two days prior to swarming is too late. You could have tried splitting harder, into more colonies/nucs.

    You got to see one of the ways russians try to stay ahead of mites. I never had a russian colony swarm but, it took work to convince them to stay. Swarminess is one reason I don't have russians anymore.

    Tom

  12. #12
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    Default Re: They swarmed!!!

    TWall, I was just thinking that. If I had split them two weeks earlier, would that have been helpful?

    I didn't even know they were thinking of swarming. I just split them because they were strong and healthy looking and I wanted to duplicate them.

    The probably unfortunate thing was that I split them on Saturday and they had probably had the queen cells all ready for their swarm, and I probably have now made one or both hives queenless just by moving everything around. I didn't look for queen cells, but I may have ripped one open when I moved the supers around because I do remember seeing larvae that had torn, but I don't know if it was a queen cell or just misplaced comb or something. Also, they stop the queen from laying eggs towards swarm time, so if I did rip a queen cell and that was THE egg, then they may be destined to be queenless.

    So many unknowns... But next year, I will split closer to mid-May than early June!!!!

    In a way, you can say that Russians are just so healthy and so vigorous and so resilient, that that's why they do tend to swarm more. And we do want healthy, vigorous, and resilient bees, right? We don't want mite infested sickly bees. So I'm still glad I have Russians, but next year, I'll split them earlier.

    I need to go back in the hives and check for queen cells, and make sure both hives have them. If only one does, maybe I can take a frame with an extra queen cell and put it in the hive that doesn't. The thing is, I don't want to rip the queen cells!! Very scary.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: They swarmed!!!

    You don't need to rush in and determine which one might be queenless. There is the possibilities that both splits have queen cells. Without knowing their development you want to leave them alone. One split should be queenright. In a couple of weeks one split should have eggs/young larvae. One split may or may not. If you put a frame of eggs in the split without eggs you will findout if they are queenless if they make queen cells. If they don't they may have a new queen that hasn't started to lay yet.

    As long as you have one queenright hive you can fix any queenlessness that arises.

    Sometimes the best lessons I learn are from the mistakes I make, it helps add clarity to all the 'ideas' in my head.

    Tom

  14. #14
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    Default Re: They swarmed!!!

    As long as you have one queenright hive you can fix any queenlessness that arises.
    Okay, I just don't want the colony to die out before a queen gets hatched.

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