Will stragglers "spoil" a swarm trap?
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  1. #1
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    Default Will stragglers "spoil" a swarm trap?

    Related to my other thread about optimal trap configuration:

    My bee yard is only 30' or so from this prime swarm trapping location, and last year I caught 3 swarms in rapid succession.

    Even though I placed a leafy branch over the entrance after I moved them to their permanent location, I still got a few hundred straggler bees going back to the trap location. I'd go there at night and sweep the tiny cluster into a little box, and then place them by the new location. It would take about a week until there were no stragglers left.

    If I were to put a new deep setup in the trap location (to trap the next swarm), would the stragglers would move right in and spoil the trap?
    Painted Peacock Manor, Palos Verdes, CA

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Will stragglers "spoil" a swarm trap?

    Yes, they'd move right in but I don't think they would spoil it.
    Once the swarm has moved in and you've moved them to a hive in your yard, leave the trap down, not in place, for a couple days. The stragglers will get absorbed into your other hives in your yard. You would not have to try to catch them each day for a week, just let them find and beg their way into other hives.
    I'm not always the brightest Beek in the box, so I carry a flash light for my occasional dim moments.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Will stragglers "spoil" a swarm trap?

    Do you have another location you can park the newly hived swarm for a week or two? Eliminates the straggler/ bee returning to the old location problem entirely.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Will stragglers "spoil" a swarm trap?

    I can't prove it but stragglers seem to help catch an other swarm quicker. The left over stragglers take up residence in a new box, usually 20-40 bees. When there are straggles chances are higher than average I will catch another swarm within days. Not sure a few hundred stragglers would have the same effect.

    Not sure if it's because they are an after swarm from same hive or queenless bees open to new bees/queen/pheromones.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Will stragglers "spoil" a swarm trap?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Do you have another location you can park the newly hived swarm for a week or two? Eliminates the straggler/ bee returning to the old location problem entirely.
    Unfortunately, no. I do have one colony at a friend's house, but he's only 1/4 mile away, so that wouldn't help.
    Painted Peacock Manor, Palos Verdes, CA

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Will stragglers "spoil" a swarm trap?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Do you have another location you can park the newly hived swarm for a week or two? Eliminates the straggler/ bee returning to the old location problem entirely.
    Unfortunately, no. I do have one colony at a friend's house, but he's only 1/4 mile away, so that wouldn't help.
    Painted Peacock Manor, Palos Verdes, CA

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Will stragglers "spoil" a swarm trap?

    Quote Originally Posted by FlowerPlanter View Post
    I can't prove it but stragglers seem to help catch an other swarm quicker. The left over stragglers take up residence in a new box, usually 20-40 bees. When there are straggles chances are higher than average I will catch another swarm within days. Not sure a few hundred stragglers would have the same effect.

    Not sure if it's because they are an after swarm from same hive or queenless bees open to new bees/queen/pheromones.
    Interesting. According to Honeybee Democracy, the scouts use the number of scouts at a location to establish a quorum, and that's what triggers the move-in response.

    I wonder if the extra bees would help constitute the quorum, but with the danger that a smaller-than-optimal number of "real" scouts actually knows the route to the new location. (I actually discussed this possibility, briefly, with Seeley via email a couple of years ago).
    Painted Peacock Manor, Palos Verdes, CA

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Will stragglers "spoil" a swarm trap?

    Any forager bees that are returning after you moved the trap will congregate where the swarm had bivouacked, or at the former location of your trap.

    Bees are pretty easy to get reoriented after swarming, try mixing some grass with the branches to make it a real chore to get out of the hive at their new location. That should force them to reorient and reduce your straggler bee counts.

    I wouldn't think a few straggler bees would have any detrimental effect on a new swarm's selection of your trap. Those straggler bees will be docile and accepting of a new queen. Personally, I wouldn't worry about it. JMO...HTH
    ...We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are...

  10. #9
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    Thumbs Up Re: Will stragglers "spoil" a swarm trap?

    Quote Originally Posted by IAmTheWaterbug View Post
    ...I wonder if the extra bees would help constitute the quorum...
    I believe that quorum would be taken at the swarming hive's combs, not at a prospective site.

    Dr. Rangel, working with Seeley, observed that some scouts from a swarming hive will actually occupy and defend a prime location while sending other scouts back to the mother hive to dance for the new location. If the dancing scouts at the swarming hive dance effectively the swarm will navigate to the new location.
    ...We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are...

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Will stragglers "spoil" a swarm trap?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lburou View Post
    I believe that quorum would be taken at the swarming hive's combs, not at a prospective site.

    Dr. Rangel, working with Seeley, observed that some scouts from a swarming hive will actually occupy and defend a prime location while sending other scouts back to the mother hive to dance for the new location. If the dancing scouts at the swarming hive dance effectively the swarm will navigate to the new location.
    My understanding was that the quorum was established at the candidate site, with a minimum of 20-30 scouts on a sustained basis, representing 50 - 100 scouts that had actually visited the site.

    But I could be wrong, and I'm currently 6,000 miles away from the book, so I'll re-read that section when I get home.
    Painted Peacock Manor, Palos Verdes, CA

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Will stragglers "spoil" a swarm trap?

    I just remembered that I posted a question about this last year:

    Of particular interest to me today is the "quorum" required for a swarm to make the final decision and proceed to their chosen home. According to Seeley (p. 169), and assuming he's correct, "20 to 30 bees present simultaneously at one of the potential nest sites is a quorum," at which point the scouts leave the desired site, travel back to the swarm, and trigger the processes to get the swarm moving.

    Seeley cites further experiments that support it's the number of scouts at the target site, and _not_ the number dancing back at the swarm, that triggers the decision-making machinery.

    No vote is taken back at the swarm; the first quorum of scouts that returns with the "victory cry" gets the swarm moving.

    He further notes that, since the scouts dynamically add and remove themselves from the support group for a site, and that there are always scouts moving to and from a site, the "20 to 30" in the quorum represent 50 to 100 bees that have visited and that support this site.
    Last year's question was about "rigging" an election by artificially increasing the apparent number of bees at the candidate site.

    So it appears that "stragglers" may be a way to do exactly that, though this would only work for repeat swarms, and not the first catch.

    So I may try immediately "reloading" my magic catch spot with another trap (really a full deep setup) immediately upon catching and relocating my first swarm.
    Painted Peacock Manor, Palos Verdes, CA

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Will stragglers "spoil" a swarm trap?

    Sounds like you know more than I...and I won't argue about the quorum. What happens when there are two good locations and two quorums?
    ...We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are...

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Will stragglers "spoil" a swarm trap?

    I wonder if the stragglers influence only works if it is a secondary swarm from the same hive? Seems they would defend the trap from other scout bees from a different hive. I have seen scouts remain at a site after the swarm has settled on another location.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Will stragglers "spoil" a swarm trap?

    I have gotten what I call Zombie swarms when I place bait hives too close together. The main swarm goes in one box and 20-50 bees form a Zombie swarm in the other box that also has Lemongrass oil or Swarm Commander lure. They stay there until they all die out discouraging other swarms from entering. I now shake these out and move the Zombie box far away.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Will stragglers "spoil" a swarm trap?

    So how close is too close? When I observed this, the traps were about 200 yards apart. Next year I will place them 1/2 mile apart. Good area in downtown Richmond. Two swarms last year same location one month apart.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Will stragglers "spoil" a swarm trap?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    So how close is too close? When I observed this, the traps were about 200 yards apart. Next year I will place them 1/2 mile apart. Good area in downtown Richmond. Two swarms last year same location one month apart.

    I have had Zombie swarm problems with piles of bait hives stacked ready for disbursal, when only a few feet apart.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Will stragglers "spoil" a swarm trap?

    I may be a little of in my thinking (nothing new there) but it seems that the smell of bee's, using old comb, swarms going to old hives whether your empty boxes or a house that had some the year before helps attract a swarm. So in thought it would help as long as it's after they finally leave or are not old scouts guarding the site.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Will stragglers "spoil" a swarm trap?

    In my thinking, I tend to like to have some straggler bees in a trap. It keeps the box occupied, sort of. They keep the wax moths out, bring in some nectar, and tend the hive to a minimum amount. It still smells like an active hive, which I think helps convince potential swarms. That's my perspective.

    Phil

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