Swarm Mystery
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Thread: Swarm Mystery

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN
    Posts
    159

    Default Swarm Mystery

    I caught a swarm in my yard yesterday and am confused as to where it came from. Any ideas on this are appreciated.

    I don't think it came from somewhere else but I suppose it could have. I have 4 hives (5 with the swarm).

    Hive #1 - Split on 4/11 (20 days ago) left queenless - Inside I found 5 queen cells on the bottoms of 2 frames. 3 were cut open, 2 still capped.

    Hive #2 - New package installed 4/17 - I am not seeing eggs in there yet. Added one of the capped QC's from #1 just in case.

    Orchard Hive - Split from Hive #1 on 4/11 with queen in this one. Eggs and open and capped brood. No queen cells.

    Garden Hive - booming hive that I was sure was the swarm source but found no queen cells, lots of eggs, open and closed brood.

    Any thoughts on which is the most likely swarm source?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Marshall county, AL
    Posts
    3,404

    Default Re: Swarm Mystery

    If it originated from one of your hives, how could it be from any other hive than #1?
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    North Pole, Alaska
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: Swarm Mystery

    I agree with Brad, essentially a cast swarm from hive #1. My opinion is, since you did the split on 4/11 you probably should have checked it on 4/24 or 4/25 to assess queen cells, or at the very least on 4/26 - 4/27 to check for emergence of the new queen. By waiting for 20 days it allowed a queen to emerge, a second (virgin) swarm and resulting queenlessness, and they have now built new queen cells as a result. By removing the remaining cells you may be able to recombine the swarm with hive #1 fairly easily (I'd just dump them in), though I may be wrong and there could still be another virgin queen in the hive (I'd still just dump them in )
    If you are gung-ho for expansion, you have stumbled upon a really good thing and with a little record keeping could possibly keep your streak going by continuing to split your splits with virgins.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN
    Posts
    159

    Default Re: Swarm Mystery

    Excellent. I didn't think about them making 2 queens and one of them leaving with a swarm.

    I am not planning on having more than 4 hives. I would like to combine them for sure. Just dump them in huh? That's easy enough. Thanks!

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
    Posts
    5,400

    Default Re: Swarm Mystery

    Well hive #1 would have had a laying queen after the split, as before the first virgin queen emerged there would have been no viable brood from which to build a queen from.. hive made queenless on 4/11 queen could not have been capped before the 15th and not have emerged before the 23rd most likely would not have finished breeding flights and started laying, before the 28th. If she laid an egg on the 28th it would hot hatch until the 1st. A queen cell could have been drawn around the newly hatched larva but should not be capped until the 5th.+ - If a virgin queen were to have swarmed from that hive it should have done so between the 23 and 27th leaving the hive with another virgin queen . The queen cells in the hive now would have had to have come from eggs laid by the new queen. My suspicion would be that the swarm came from a hive other than yours, the queen cells within hive #1 are supercedure cells as the nurse bees perceive the slow start of a newly bred queen as poor performance. when she picks up over the next days they will probably tear them down,, where else would the eggs for the current queen cells have come from?
    Last edited by Tenbears; 05-02-2015 at 05:06 PM.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN
    Posts
    159

    Default Re: Swarm Mystery

    Thanks for all the help folks.

    Here's what I am thinking/wondering. If they were made queenless on the 11th, couldn't they have started emergency cells as late as the 14th. Those cells could have hatched as late as the 28th. Would the virgin swarm have left right away or is there a chance it waited a couple days until the 1st?

    Unless it was from another hive, that could explain it.

    Here's another piece of the puzzle. I was working in my garage a lot today. I noticed several times honeybees coming in and buzzing around. I don't have beekeeping stuff in there so I don't think they were smelling that. Then one of the bees enters an old nail hole in the wall like she was looking for a place to settle I taped her into the hole while I investigated if there were bees coming in from the outside anywhere. Nothing. So I let her out and she left.

    Then some time later, I was watching another honeybee, this one with pollen on her legs and she flew into a plug hole on a surge strip I had just attached to the wall. Then she left and another one went in there. I just can't figure it out. My wife wondered if maybe they were low on energy

    So I may in fact have other bees around and looking for new homes. I know I'll be watching for swarms all day tomorrow.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
    Posts
    5,400

    Default Re: Swarm Mystery

    Although the bee scenario you posted is within the realm of possibility. It would be unlikely for the bees to wait for eggs to hatch from which to build a queen, Bees realize they are queenless very rapidly, and they would have started with a newly hatched larva as soon as they realized they were queenless. The dilemma fall in the fact that on the 1st or 2nd you found capped queen cells, which would be 20 of 21 days respectively after the eggs could have been laid. Causing me to wonder where the eggs came from, knowing that once a new queen begins laying they are rarely inclined to swarm. It is posable that the capped swarm cells are not viable and thus simply will remain capped until torn down. And it was in fact the virgin who swarmed. You may never know the actual facts of what happened as there are many plausible scenarios.

    Bees investigate all sorts of things, especially colors and fragrances. Once had a friend leave his car door open while he ran up to talk to me at my apiary. He was known for using air fresheners and oils to keep his car smelling fresh, (Sickeningly so in My opinion) When he returned the car was full of bees. he cussed me for weeks. The point here is they do check things out, the bee that went into the hole may have been a scout looking for a possible new hive. I can guarantee you have other bees around, as they are nearly everywhere in the lower 48. And this is the time of year in your area to have those swarm traps out!

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN
    Posts
    159

    Default Re: Swarm Mystery

    OK, now I'm really confused. OK MORE REALLY CONFUSED>

    I had another swarm in my yard today. It settled on a pine tree and I captured it. It seems settled now.

    I don't know what to think.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
    Posts
    5,400

    Default Re: Swarm Mystery

    I would think I was living right for two swarms to choose my yard in a week. Actually the presence of bees seems to draw them.

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