Early swarming in California?
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  1. #1
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    Default Early swarming in California?

    I don't want to pollute the "swarm report" thread with discussion, so I'll do it here.

    I just reported my first swarm of 2018 today, on January 29th:



    To my inexperienced eye that seems tremendously early, even for Los Angeles. The first CA report in 2017 was in mid-March.

    I'm going assume, perhaps naively, that it takes two full brood cycles to come up to swarm strength from winter, which would suggest that the mother hive started its buildup in mid-December.

    I need to:
    1. Start swarm prevention activities in earnest. I did some minor rearranging of frames in my deeps this weekend, but next weekend I'm going to look a lot more carefully.
    2. Finish my swarm trap camera!
    3. Remind my friends and neighbors to get ahold of me when they see "OMG!!! BEEEEzZ!"
    Painted Peacock Manor, Palos Verdes, CA

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Early swarming in California?

    I went to collect the swarm this morning, and everything seemed to go very well. For the first time I tried the "walk in" method by dumping them onto a sheet at the nuc's entrance, and they starting marching right in. 60 seconds later I saw Her Majesty and put her in a clip and put the clip in the nuc:

    https://youtu.be/0ClsG1uIO3Q

    So I fully expect them to all be indoors by nightfall, and then I'll take them back to my house. Tomorrow morning I'll donate a frame of open brood and release the queen, and I think I'll have a new colony

    But the planet is going crazy.

    I have a fully-feathered peacock doing his mating dance, with a full fan, in my driveway. In January. This normally happens in mid-March, along with the normal swarms.

    How many brood cycles does it typically take to swarm?
    Painted Peacock Manor, Palos Verdes, CA

  4. #3
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    Jul 2017
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    NW Florida
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    Default Re: Early swarming in California?

    Wow! Awesome pic. To make things weirder, over here in NW Florida I'm wondering if we will get a later start than we did last year. Much colder winter this year. The weather is messed up.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Early swarming in California?

    I got a swarm call January 2nd a few miles from my home, very early for Arizona, but it has been bone dry this winter and we are in a long dearth so perhaps this has something to do with it?

    1-2-18.jpg
    Cheers Bill
    zone 9b

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Early swarming in California?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nugget Shooter View Post
    I got a swarm call January 2nd a few miles from my home, very early for Arizona, but it has been bone dry this winter and we are in a long dearth so perhaps this has something to do with it?

    1-2-18.jpg
    Whoa! January 2nd! Did you post in the Swarm thread?

    I'd think a dearth would discourage swarming, no?
    Painted Peacock Manor, Palos Verdes, CA

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Early swarming in California?

    Quote Originally Posted by IAmTheWaterbug View Post
    I just reported my first swarm of 2018 today, on January 29th
    And here's my second:



    I didn't get there in time, which is a shame, because that photo looked like a nice sized swarm, and easy to collect, too.

    So which one of you got there first?
    Painted Peacock Manor, Palos Verdes, CA

  8. #7

    Default Re: Early swarming in California?

    I would agree Waterbug and it is perhaps just our long warm dry spell this winter is causing them to search for better forage ground. Was another in a eucalyptus tree I was called about last week, but they were 30 feet up and it was a huge swarm. Just too far up to get safely....
    Cheers Bill
    zone 9b

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Early swarming in California?

    And here I have scouts, checking out my bait hive on February 3rd. In previous years this has started in late March/early April:

    https://youtu.be/-UkTJt5-LXw

    I gotta get that trap cam up tomorrow!
    Painted Peacock Manor, Palos Verdes, CA

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Santa Cruz, CA
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    338

    Default Re: Early swarming in California?

    Your bait hive is so pretty! I've found the uglier and older my trap, the better...or is it only because those are the only hives I leave out empty? haha

    I've had one swarm here already. I need to get my traps out asap! Congrats on the catch - hopefully you get the next few.

  11. #10
    Join Date
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    Palos Verdes, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Early swarming in California?

    It's not a catch just yet; it's just scouts for now.
    Painted Peacock Manor, Palos Verdes, CA

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Early swarming in California?

    The _one_ time I didn't want them to be early, they were early. I'm pretty sure they already moved in:

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIV...y2qpRhiMg/live
    Painted Peacock Manor, Palos Verdes, CA

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Early swarming in California?

    Got another one, but this is a tiny little swarm:



    There was a thimbleful of bees clustered on the bark of the tree. Last night, all the bees were collected in two clusters on the bark of the tree, about 12" apart. Each clump was about the size of my fist, flattened out:



    but by the time I got there I thought it too dark/cold to collect them.

    The homeowner who reported the swarm to me said there's an established hive a few dozen yards away, and right after I drove away from hiving these girls, she sent me another message that there's another swarm "around the corner," but I didn't have time (or another box) to go get them. So I may try to get the other swarm this evening, if I can get there during daylight.

    Is a small, split swarm likely to be a queenless afterswarm? What else could cause a swarm to not cluster as one?
    Last edited by IAmTheWaterbug; 02-14-2018 at 02:05 PM. Reason: changed "virgin" to "queenless"
    Painted Peacock Manor, Palos Verdes, CA

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