Witnessed our first bee swarm today and I am perplexed.
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Boyce, LA USA
    Posts
    3

    Default Witnessed our first bee swarm today and I am perplexed.

    We have only been beekeepers for 1 year. We have 2 Langstroth hives that are doing poorly and I am sure it is something we are doing or not doing but I don't know what that is. As I was gardening this morning I heard a commotion from one of the hives and looked up to see this mass exodus of bees flying out of the hive. I knew immediately what was going on and watched them gather on a limb of a nearby oak. They are waaay to high to collect so we have set up a swarm trap to try and coax them into the box.

    The problem is, in our ignorance, we had thought this hive had been doing pretty well. There were lots of bees in the bottom box and we had added another box early spring. The queen has been laying really well, lots of capped brood. I don't understand why they may have swarmed because when I popped the lid off this morning there was nothing in the box we had added. They had not even started drawing it out. They should have had plenty of room? I don't understand why they swarmed? and Why didn't they move up into the top box? What could we have done to prevent it if anything?

    If we catch the swarm do we start a new hive or (may be a silly question) can we put them back if we get rid of one of the queens? Or is that a ridiculous idea?
    I will consider any and all advice. Thanks for reading.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Witnessed our first bee swarm today and I am perplexed.

    First, to a bee a box of foundation doesn’t qualify as extra space. A box full of drawn comb does. It’s not a criticism, just an explanation.
    Second, since you say that your hives are generally doing poorly, what are you doing about varroa mites?
    If you catch the swarm, start a new hive with them. The old hive of bees will not welcome them as they already have a new queen.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Decatur / Cullman, also. 35603
    Posts
    768

    Default Re: Witnessed our first bee swarm today and I am perplexed.

    Adding to the good advice from beemandan... you can't just pop a new box and frames on top. You should move a frame or two with brood upstairs into that new box. Put them in the middle frames. They will then expand into the new box and brood !!!

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Boyce, LA USA
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Witnessed our first bee swarm today and I am perplexed.

    Well that makes a lot of sense. As far as varroa mite control, before winter we treated them with oxalic vapor. This Spring our local bee organization got together and made towellettes dipped into oxalic acid and glycerin. We have those in place right now.

    The story with our other hive goes like this... Early winter (in late February, our winters are not much), we opened this particular hive and it was full of bees. Really full. Again, apparently not the proper way, we placed another box on top but they swarmed...early. After that the new queen just isn't good. The brood pattern is almost non-existent. What few larva there are do not look healthy. They have been pulling the larva out here and there. I wanted to purchase a new queen early when we noticed this going on but my husband wanted to see if they would replace her. I think now it is too late because there are very few bees and they have not replaced her with a new one. I have a theory that because it was so early when they swarmed, late February/very early March, and due to a very wet March our queen didn't breed well. I don't know if that is the case but it is a possiblity. I don't understand why they wouldn't replace her unless her brood was just to low quality? Anyway we have almost given up on them there are so few bees.

    Man that really makes me upset with myself that something as simple as moving a few frames around could have prevented all this...*sigh* live and learn. Thanks for the input guys.

  6. #5

    Default Re: Witnessed our first bee swarm today and I am perplexed.

    I would look closely at the oxalic acid vapor regimen. Also....the oxalic acid towelettes. In all honesty, I don't have much faith in oav in a brood rearing hive. The frequency of application is crucial. People are all over the board with different protocols and I'm not sure if many or any are effective. Also...the oa soaked towels have been tested in many different mixes and concentrations and I haven't seen any definitive combination that appears to work.
    Poor brood patterns are more likely, in my opinion, to be a result of varroa infestation.
    You might take a look at Randy Oliver's website scientificbeekeeping.com and review some of his recommendations.
    They're your bees....do as you see fit.
    Good luck.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Greenville, NC, USA
    Posts
    183

    Default Re: Witnessed our first bee swarm today and I am perplexed.

    Don't beat yourself up, use it as a learning experience. OAV works for me BUT in NC we never have a brood break and you don't either. Treat the hive and then put in a sticky board to check mite drop. 48 hours later remove the sticky and count mites, if you have over a dozen or so treat again. I treat quarterly, 6 days apart and check the mite drop. Treat until you get down to 5 or 6 mites dropping. The info above about foundation vs comb is right on. Put in a couple of frames with comb and it will draw the girls up

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