New package swarmed, I think
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default New package swarmed, I think

    On April 1st I hived 5 packages, each in a single 10 frame deep with drawn comb. 1 of the packages had a dead queen. After a bit of back and fourth with the supplier, I had a replacement queen on the 6th that I installed in that hive. When I was putting her cage in the box, I realized that hive didn't have many bees, I guess about 1/2 of the package was missing.

    April 8th I opened each hive for a quick inspection and determined the hive that my bees had drifted too. No biggie, I swapped the hives to try and even out the drifting.

    April 10th, I started seeing activity out side of a swam trap that is about 50' away from these 5 hives. It appeared to be robbing, bees were very frantic on the landing board, and walking up the face of the hive before flying off, but there was nothing in the trap for them to rob. Since then they have calmed down and and still in the trap at night, I'm assuming I've caught a swarm.

    This weekend I will open all of my hives to see if any have swarmed and verify all have queens, same for my new swarm. What are the chances that this swarm is from one of my packages? Why would they swarm this early? What is going on?

    I have no other hives at this location. if the swarm is not from my packages, they are feral bees.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,536

    Default Re: New package swarmed, I think

    I don't think the bees from the package with the dead queen swarmed while you were getting that resolved, but they certainly may have drifted away from the (then) queenless colony.

    I also don't think any of your (now) queenright bees have swarmed in the classical sense of a reproductive swarm, which leaves behind a well-supplied and self sufficient colony, in both resources and brood-enough to make a new queen and sustain the population until she's mated and laying. There hasn't been time enough for that to have accomplished since April 1. But they may have absconded, en masse, for the swarm trap.

    Even if it is a true swarm in your trap, it isn't guaranteed to be feral bees as it may be from a managed apiary, but it is exciting and interesting. And of course, it's free bees which is always a very nice thing to have.

    Sounds like you're off to a very promising start in this yard.

    Enj.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Marietta, Ohio USA
    Posts
    489

    Default Re: New package swarmed, I think

    I just installed 3 packages and had half of the bees from one package drift to other hives I had in the apiary. Of course I didn't know it at the time.

    When I first went in to check them I noticed that I had a baseball size cluster and they weren't moving.
    We had had a cold spell (below 32) and there weren't enough bees to keep them warm.
    I put them in the sun for a while and they came back to life.

    The moral of the story is to be careful when installing packages and watch them.
    They wont always stay where you put them.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: New package swarmed, I think

    I opened my hives today, all showed signs of a queen except the 1 that Got the replacement queen. I didn't see her, brood, or eggs.

    I pulled 1 frame from other package that had ~20 cells of open brood and put in that hive. Next weekend I will open it up again and see if they are attempting to raise a new queen. I didn't want to pull a full frame of brood from a new hive, so this was the best I was willing to do.

    Then I opened up my swarm trap for the first time, oh boy. First off, I only had 4 frames in it (ok this was a half ass swarm trap/I needed a place to store an empty NUC). The bees had drawn in a perfect shape of a frame. Not your typical semicircle, wild, drawn comb; this was a perfect rectangle hanging from the cover.

    I have never in my life seen that many bees in a a hive, much less a 5 frame nuc. When I would pull a frame out, I couldn't even see the comb. The bees were crawling on top of each other. I had no chance of spotting the queen but I did see eggs in 1 frame so I know she's in there.

    I moved them into a singe 10 deep, and they still looked crowded. I'll add a second box next weekend.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Penobscot County, ME, USA
    Posts
    1,206

    Default Re: New package swarmed, I think

    Quote Originally Posted by cbf89 View Post
    I moved them into a singe 10 deep, and they still looked crowded. I'll add a second box next weekend.
    Don't wait, do it now.
    If you want to be successful, study successful people and do what they do.
    Zone 4a/b

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,922

    Default Re: New package swarmed, I think

    If you feed a package constantly you can make it swarm. They backfill the broodnest and don't know what else to do since the queen has no where to lay. But if even the package hives look normal, maybe it's from somewhere else. But keep in mind sometimes they swarm and bees are emerging at such a rate that you don't even notice. A queen at her peak can lay 3,000 eggs a day according to Dzierzon and she peaks just before they start backfilling and shutting her down, so right after she leave there are that many bees emerging every day...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: New package swarmed, I think

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    If you feed a package constantly you can make it swarm. They backfill the broodnest and don't know what else to do since the queen has no where to lay. But if even the package hives look normal, maybe it's from somewhere else. But keep in mind sometimes they swarm and bees are emerging at such a rate that you don't even notice. A queen at her peak can lay 3,000 eggs a day according to Dzierzon and she peaks just before they start backfilling and shutting her down, so right after she leave there are that many bees emerging every day...
    The packages were installed 17 days ago, and this swarm seems huge. I've never caught a swarm before, but I'm certain this is a lot more bees than come in a 3lb package. It looks like someone dumped 4 packages into 1 hive.

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