Will a swarm take over a weak hive?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Jackson, Ohio (SE Ohio) USA
    Posts
    817

    Default Will a swarm take over a weak hive?

    Just idle curiosity, but wondered if a strong swarm would try to take over a weak colony? I've seen "scrapping" in robbing situations, but can't quite get my head around wholesale invasion.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    tell city, in.
    Posts
    95

    Default Re: Will a swarm take over a weak hive?

    Yes they will I had one try to take over one of my hives but the hive was strong enough to fend off the swarm.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Lamar Co. Alabama, USA
    Posts
    4,095

    Default Re: Will a swarm take over a weak hive?

    Yes, especially by AHB, in those areas that have them. While we don't have Africanized bees, I had a swarm take over a weak hive late last summer/early fall. There was no queen in the hive and only a frame or two of bees. I had tried unsuccessfully to get the hive to raise another queen. One day I was going to shake the rest of the bees out and freeze the comb prior to storing it. When I opened the hive it was wall to wall bees instead of just one or two frames.

    I split that hive this spring and have harvested one medium super of honey off it (the main hive) this week. I don't know where the swarm came from but the hive has been going gang busters since winters end and the bees are fairly gentle to boot (compared to some of my hives).

    I've had one or two other attempts by swarms to take over hives but the hives were usually too strong for the small swarm. All attempts have been in late summer or fall.
    "Sometimes the best action, with bees, is no action at all."

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Hotlanta, GA
    Posts
    764

    Default Re: Will a swarm take over a weak hive?

    Called a usurpation swarm. There are some videos on YouTube in fact.
    Ask two beekeepers, get three answers

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,601

    Default Re: Will a swarm take over a weak hive?

    Yes. It's called a usurpation. I've watched one play out and it was quite interesting. They have been noted for some time now.

    This is from C.C. Miller:

    Q. I had 32 colonies of bees, and I have lost five of them. They will swarm and come out of their own hive and settle on the outside of some of the other hives, and leave their own hives empty, with lots of honey in them. When they settle on the other hives it causes a fight. What makes the bees do this?

    A. Bees sometimes seem to have a mania for deserting their hives in spring and trying to force their way into other hives, and it isn't easy to say just why. Some think because they are weak and discouraged. Some think because they have started a lot of brood, and then the old bees have died off so rapidly that enough are not left to cover the brood. In any case the advice given is to have only strong colonies in the fall. This is sound advice on general principles, even if there should be some absconding the following spring in spite of strong colonies.
    --C.C. Miller, A thousand answers to Beekeeping Questions, 1917
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Jackson, Ohio (SE Ohio) USA
    Posts
    817

    Default Re: Will a swarm take over a weak hive?

    Thanks for all the responses!

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