Killed more than half the swarm.
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
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    Ozark, AL
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    Default Killed more than half the swarm.

    Killed more than half the swarm. Sorry long post.

    Well I learned a lot today and welcome any constructed criticism as to what I could or should have done different as it might help the next newbie. Got my first swarm call this morning. Well I asked some of the questions my mentor had advised me to ask such as: How big was the swarm compared to a football? Have used this since most are sort of oblong in shape. How high they were how far from the road, etc.

    Wes said he thought the swarm was a large as three footballs and would fill a 5 gallon bucket! Of course I thought he might be a bit excited and his eyes building them up some. Well he was right it was a huge swarm! Larger than any swarm I had seen pictures of or you tubes videos of. The swarm was only about 6 feet high covering a three tree limbs. I easily lifted my cardboard box under the swarm and racked three to four pounds of bees into the box with my dustpan and still had as many left on the tree as in my box. Sat the box down below the swarm and used my bee brush to fill and refill the dustpan and transfer them to the box.

    Was quick, easy, had just two bees sting me, closed up my box and loaded it the truck for the short, about 20 minute drive home. The box was about 4 inches deep in bees with many more on the sides of the box. Once home quickly setup the hive box and in less than 30 minutes from closing the box till getting to the hive body more than half, maybe ¾ of the bees were dead! The cardboard box has screen wire on one side and I thought plenty of air. While there might have been enough ventilation the sheer number and weight of the bees had smothered thousands of bees, and of course I am just sick about that.

    Still was able to house a large number of bees in the hive with drawn comb, a frame with brood, and some sugar water but have no idea if the queen is alive or not. I just hate what happen and still not sure what I could have done different. Hindsight I would have carried a hive body with frames with me and poured the bees from the box to the hive body before leaving the tree. Maybe if I had thought to use two boxes they would have had enough room, maybe if I had …….., or maybe if I had …… .

    Anyway if someone can learn from my error(s) or some of you want to unload on me than somebody else might not make the same mistakes that I did. I now wish the bees had left before I got to them but I can not undo it now and am trying to think of what to do next. My plans are to leave them alone for 3 to 5 days and see if there are any eggs or other signs of the queen being alive. If I can not find her or any signs of new life I think my three best choices are: 1) If there are enough bees left alive my mentor has offered to give me a newly mated queen. 2) Pull a frame with eggs from one of the other hive I have and see if they will make a queen. 3) Or if I feel there are not enough bees left to establish another hive combine them with another hive by trying the “newspaper combine”.

    Sorry so long but I have been beating myself up all afternoon and hope others can learn from the mistakes that I made today and help someone else to not make such errors as I did.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Rosebud Missouri
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    Default Re: Killed more than half the swarm.

    Groundh...

    I have moved two swarms at night and just closed the entrance with a block of wood and have no venting in my traps. Both I did this to were 12 miles away from my house and I was scared to death they would over heat. I got lucky so far but my swarms were small. One of these days, I may be crying too. I am leaving the traps out any way cause it is what I have. I will not be able to say I have not been warned.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Forsyth, Missouri
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    663

    Default Re: Killed more than half the swarm.

    I don't use a box.
    I use ALL hives or nucs with at least 1 drawn frame and the rest undrawn.
    They move right in and are not in a pile.

    I keep a nuc and 10 frame hive in all 5 cars/truck with gloves and a vale.
    My kids can go on calls when I cant.
    My son had one last week and I picked it up that evening when he was out running and he was upset I didn't leave him another nuc.
    Zone 6b 1400'

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Ozark, AL
    Posts
    820

    Default Re: Killed more than half the swarm.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoot Owl Lane Bees View Post
    I don't use a box.
    I use ALL hives or nucs with at least 1 drawn frame and the rest undrawn.
    They move right in and are not in a pile. I keep a nuc and 10 frame hive in all 5 cars/truck with gloves and a vale.
    I think that is the best lesson I learned today. If I had at least carried one of my hive bodies in the truck I could have made a couple of trips with the light cardboard box from the tree/swarm to the truck and placed the bees into the hive box with frames for them to have been crawling on and not have them "trapped" in the bottom of the box. Right now I do not even want to get another call as I just can not get over messing up so bad and killing all those bees that if I had know more about what to do I could have saved.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Default Re: Killed more than half the swarm.

    Mine are all hives of sorts too, I have screwed some bottoms on and some tops and have them full of foundationless frames, but I also have covered the entrances compleetly and have no extra venting and so still consider myself luck up to this point.
    gww

    Ps one I moved had about 3 frames of comb about 1/3rd built and that all ended up at the bottom of the trap and I should have had more dead bees than I did but it worked out somehow.
    zone 5b

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    663

    Default Re: Killed more than half the swarm.

    Look at it as a lesson learned.
    Swarms are a lot of fun when you are prepared.
    I used to lose a lot when I first started because of the same thing.
    Let the bees teach you at every move.
    Zone 6b 1400'

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Red Bud, IL, USA
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    1,808

    Default Re: Killed more than half the swarm.

    Ventilation and crowd control for moving bees. Along with what Hoot Owl mentioned, you might consider including a screened inner cover (and not using a telescoping cover for transport), ratchet strap for keeping all the woodware together and duct tape. Foundationless frames help give the bees a place to climb/cling but not sufficient for large swarms and/or medium swarms over any distance. It doesn't hurt to carry an extra box with frames.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
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    683

    Default Re: Killed more than half the swarm.

    They are bees. They would be dead in a month anyway.

    Makeshift equipment kills bees. Get a bushkill, even if you don't vacuum the bees it makes a nice transport container.

    If you aren't killing bees you aren't catching swarms.

    Pretty sure every swarm catcher has done exactly what you did.
    The bees are good at fixing my mistakes

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Maple Ridge, BC, Canada
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: Killed more than half the swarm.

    Bees need to hang. They cant stand on top of one another, they need to hang. Best way to deal with a surprise swarm into a cardboard box is to put some of the tree in the box too. Even branches from the ground, just stuff them in there to make a lattice for the bees to hang from, then knock the swarm into the box. if they are hanging they can ventilate the space properly.

    Don't feel bad, some swarm recoveries kill bees. I have had some bad ones with the vacuum as well.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Rosebud Missouri
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    Default Re: Killed more than half the swarm.

    Ryan
    Nice tip
    gww
    zone 5b

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Ozark, AL
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    820

    Default Re: Killed more than half the swarm.

    Thanks folks for the ideas, information, and plans for what to do next time. And now I hope I quickly get another chance. I was really beating myself up yesterday and while still disappointed in what I did know that I have learned from the mistakes I made. Not trying to make light of what happen but as one stated “they were just bees” and with all most of us face each day if losing some bees is the worse that happens in some ones life they are blessed.

    Did not mess with the hive today that I placed them in and they were coming and going steady. Lost a lot of bees but this time of year they can bounce back quickly. I will check them after the first of the week and if no sign of the queen I will get a new one from by friend and a frame or two of capped brood and fresh eggs and larva.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
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    4,323

    Default Re: Killed more than half the swarm.

    Bees create a tremendous amount of heat. It does make my skin crawl when I see a beekeeper shake a swarm into a cardboard box then proceed to duct tape all the seams shut.
    You learned a great lesson here and got some real sage advice. ALWAYS house a swarm in a hive body WITH drawn comb AND proper ventillation.
    A swarm of that size will generally have multiple queens within it as well. Shaking the swarm into an empty super above a QE (with the hive below the QE) will separate the workers from the queens and drones.
    Beekeeping is a time consuming adventure.
    Sometimes one needs to slow down and smell the nasonov. lol

  14. #13
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    Rosebud Missouri
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    Default Re: Killed more than half the swarm.

    Mrbeeman
    A swarm of that size will generally have multiple queens within it as well. Shaking the swarm into an empty super above a QE (with the hive below the QE) will separate the workers from the queens and drones.
    Beekeeping is a time consuming adventure.
    Sometimes one needs to slow down and smell the nasonov. lol
    Another good tip on the queen excluder. I am already pretty slow myself. I don't have drawn comb yet and I always have a fear if I am too slow all I will see is bee butts flying off into the distance, ha ha.

    I like getting all these tips and tricks, now if I could just trick my brain into remembering half of them when it is the right time to remember them.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Ozark, AL
    Posts
    820

    Default Re: Killed more than half the swarm.

    Update on swarm.

    After housing what was left of the swarm in a 5 frame nuc on Friday with 3 frames of drawn comb and one frame with some drone brood and feeding sugar water I left them alone till yesterday, Monday. No eggs or other signs of a queen when I checked Monday, still have several hundred bees busy putting some nectar and sugar water in the drawn comb frames. Got a queen from my friend and mentor this morning and put her in the nuc and added a fifth frame with about half capped brood and larval – might have been some eggs but I did not search for them.

    Hopefully the remaining bees will settle in and once the new queen is released they will expand and make it. Now I am going to just leave them alone for the next few days and hope they do alright.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Ozark, AL
    Posts
    820

    Default Re: Killed more than half the swarm.

    From Tuesday May 2nd

    Was out of town on business Thursday till Monday but checked to see the queen had been released on Tuesday. As expected the cage was empty and since I did not want to disturb the hive I only observed the frames and bees from above. There seemed to be about 1/3 more bees than last week, guess some of the brood I added had hatched, most of the bees were “working” the frames so I hope they were busy caring for the queen, new eggs, and larva.

    Plan to do a quick inspection early next week. Maybe with a bit more TLC the hive will thrive.

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