Requeening or not after a swarm?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Larimer County, Colorado
    Posts
    18

    Default Requeening or not after a swarm?

    Hello --
    Our first two years as beekeepers, we used 8-frame langs with package bees. First package, we received a dead queen and had to requeen immediately, left her in the cage five days, but still ended up losing that queen and (mostly because of our inexperience) ended up with laying workers. The next year, package bees, great summer, then lost the hive to yellow jackets in August because we had the hive ventilated far too generously.

    We've done bee college and twice took the beekeeper 8-week class -- I swear we really are trying to do our homework and research

    Last year, starting over for the third time, we decided to try a Warre. We found a hexagonal warre, caught a swarm, and they did great -- far better than when we used a Lang. Our bees overwintered well. No issues with moisture, really strong colony. I saw the first pollen going in February 8 this year. We under-nadired a new box, but we were too late (everything has been about a month ahead of usual here). It wasn't soon enough. On Sunday, we watched a good-sized swarm vacate the hive from start to finish. We were both amazed and dismayed. We caught the swarm easily, and walked them across the street -- our neighbor had an empty hive and needed bees, and we didn't have any boxes ready for a new hive.

    So. Now we have a queenless hive.

    We do have some fixed comb, and this week, temps are mid-50s. Saturday -- six days after the swarm -- we have snow and freezing temps forecasted.

    So. Do I let the hive continue to raise a new queen, and hope that she makes it back mated and well? While I love our Warre, we have kept inspections to a minimum and this is one time I wish we could check more throughly. Checking for eggs, watching for laying workers, won't be very effective. Do we just watch for pollen and hope for the best?

    Or, do I take a more managed approach while queens are available, open the hive, destroy the queen cells I see, and intro a new (but not feral) queen?

    I don't want to do that to the hive, but I also don't want to lose this colony.

    Thanks for any suggestions.
    Debbie

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Larimer County, Colorado
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Requeening or not after a swarm?

    Just an update to the original post... we decided to wait out the colony and see if the hive becomes queenright on its own.

    Yesterday -- 7 days after a primary swarm -- we had a spring storm with snow and low temps. I could see a few swarm cells through the small window into one of the brood boxes.

    Today, temps reached about 52F, and when I looked through the window, one of the cells was clearly empty, and the bees in that box seemed a bit more frenetic. Quite a few bees flying. And below the hive porch... I'll attach a photo if I can ... several dead bees and what looked to me like the caps of cells neatly chewed and deposited outside the hive with the dead bees. Thought this was an interesting pic:

    Unknown.jpg

    (fyi, our warre is up on a rooftop deck, so we can generally see what the housekeeper bees have cleaned out of the hive)

    So, now we wait. Weather expected to be pretty good through the next 4 days.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    7,861

    Default Re: Requeening or not after a swarm?

    If the weather is not in a constant 60F then the mating flights will be cancelled. Good luck in getting the hive queen right. Better get out
    your bee catalog to find a mated queen soon. Don't like to deal with LWs later on either.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Larimer County, Colorado
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Requeening or not after a swarm?

    Quote Originally Posted by beepro View Post
    If the weather is not in a constant 60F then the mating flights will be cancelled. Good luck in getting the hive queen right. Better get out
    your bee catalog to find a mated queen soon. Don't like to deal with LWs later on either.
    We did have a local queen reserved the day after the swarm (even though swarms are a month ahead in this area this year, we under-nadired a new box very early and DID check for queen cells at that time, and saw none)... We saw weather forecast in the 30s, and decided that we didn't want to open the hive, search out swarm cells to destroy and intro a new queen in 30-degree temps.

    Temps in the 60s-80s here this week.

    No need for that catalog... we do have a local queen source and have been in touch with them, and will be keeping a close watch on the hive for the next two weeks. We won't let the hive go long, and will requeen/intro a new queen quickly if we need to, when temps are warm.


    Disagreement is fine. Snark isn't really necessary.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Larimer County, Colorado
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Requeening or not after a swarm?

    Just an update on this hive...

    I had posted that our Warre swarmed, and we were trying to decide whether to requeen the original hive and destroy swarm cells. We decided to wait and see if the colony could make itself queenright.

    The Warre is queenright and thriving. They still don't want to draw wax in the third box, so this weekend we'll move a bar from the top box down to the empty and see if that nudges them to get busy. We won't be harvesting honey this year, but that's not an issue for us.

    This Warre swarmed a total of three times. Not unexpected to have successive swarms. We were there for the first and second swarm, and found the third swarm shortly after it settled in the yard.

    The first swarm: Doing great. We put it in a lang brood box with drawn wax. Large colony. Gave it to a neighbor, so we haven't been into the hive to see how it's doing, but they are happy to have bees again.
    Second swarm: Slightly smaller, but still large. Kept this one. Placed in a new brood box with foundation. Queenright. Great brood pattern and the colony looks strong. Capped brood. Bit of a population lapse, to be expected, but they are holding their own.
    Third swarm: Smallest swarm, but still not much smaller than a 3 lb package. Queen is laying well, we'll see if it builds up.

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