Late swarm?
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Thread: Late swarm?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Lilburn, GA, USA
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    663

    Question Late swarm?

    Hello, all,

    I think I just had a late swarm, but I can't verify because I'm unable to "pop the hood" until Sunday or so given the weather round here.

    Anyways, yesterday I saw bees bearding on the outside of the hive, it was late afternoon, early evening. This was unusual given the time of day and the temperature outside was in the 50s.

    Based on my thermal camera, the interior of the hive appeared to be empty, no heat signature from within.

    This morning, in the dark, it was a light rain, and the bees were still there on the outside, couldn't say if they were alive or dead, but they were soaked.

    I don't know why they wouldn't go inside at all. And I won't know for sure until Sunday.

    Heart
    Thomas
    Last edited by Yunzow; 10-26-2018 at 07:15 AM. Reason: more details
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Isle of Wight, VA
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    2,748

    Default Re: Late swarm?

    If your thermal camera is showing no heat signature in the hive, you can remove the lid in the pouring rain or snow storm. The fact that the bees are clinging to the outside of the hive makes me think the conditions inside the hive are so bad that they would rather camp out in the rain.

    You need to check each comb over for lots of small hive beetles or for an infestation of mites. High mite loads in the fall can make a colony seek shelter elsewhere. But it could also be a number of other things. Once you get through it all, get the cluster back inside the hive and poke around and see if the queen is also in that cluster.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Peachtree City, GA, USA
    Posts
    58

    Default Re: Late swarm?

    Hi Thomas! Were you able to check your hive today? What did you find?

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Lilburn, GA, USA
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    Default Re: Late swarm?

    Hey, David,

    FYI, the nuc I got from you is doing fine.

    What I found was that the hive in question, the bees had starved out. Many, many bees dead butt end out in cells. No honey stores, oodles of pollen.

    The other full hive I have is doing okay, with honey and nectar, and brood.

    All things being the same between my two full hives, same source (Fat Bee Man), same hive design, why did one fail like this and the other didn't. It has to be genetics, because every other condition was exactly the same.

    I can't say it was for lack of feed. Because it doesn't seem like forage is lacking. For example, I had placed a feeder full of honey into the nuc, in late September, and they are still working on it, whereas all the original combs are still slammed with either honey or nectar.

    heart,
    Thomas

    Quote Originally Posted by dcnylund View Post
    Hi Thomas! Were you able to check your hive today? What did you find?
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Geauga, Ohio
    Posts
    398

    Default Re: Late swarm?

    hmmm, I had a queenless hive this fall where I knew the queen didn't make it back. I was delayed in combining them - their stores were very low and they didn't seem as motivated to store nectar.

    Any chance the starving hive was queenless? from a swarm 3 wks ago and no queen returning.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Lilburn, GA, USA
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    663

    Default Re: Late swarm?

    I think this is possible because the die out happened rather suddenly.

    Quote Originally Posted by trishbookworm View Post
    hmmm, I had a queenless hive this fall where I knew the queen didn't make it back. I was delayed in combining them - their stores were very low and they didn't seem as motivated to store nectar.

    Any chance the starving hive was queenless? from a swarm 3 wks ago and no queen returning.
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    2,178

    Default Re: Late swarm?

    Thomas, this is why you just run several hives (try to stay above five units at the very least; over ten units is better; more is even better).
    If a unit sinks, just let them sink and carry on with the rest of your apiary.
    Just sitting on 2-3 units is not really a good approach (especially as you are talking of staying away from medicating).

    No need to over-analyze every single die-off.
    5-10 minute look at the dead is sufficient to get a good idea. If the issue is not clear still, well, then just move on.
    Every single queen (openly mated) is a final product of randomly thrown dice (be it from the same producer and from the same batch and from the same mother queen - randomness is still present).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame experimentation.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Lilburn, GA, USA
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    Default Re: Late swarm?

    Thank you Greg, I was thinking something similar, the big picture.

    Right now I have four hives deployed, of which two are active.

    For next spring I am planning on adding four more hives.

    NOw... where to put them...
    I do have space in my backyard, but I don't want to freak out my neighbors with eight hives potentially casting off swarms.

    There is the "neighborhood" dam, which is technically on our property. Unfortunately, the neighbors like to go on the dam to maintain it and I don't think they were that stoked when I had a hive on the dam.

    We have about six acres of forest. I'm not that exited about putting hives under trees. Supposedly the county is going to cut down a bunch of trees for a sewer line, whenever that is done I intend to plop down as many hives as I can in the clear area. No idea when they are going to get around to working on that project though....

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Thomas, this is why you just run several hives (try to stay above five units at the very least; over ten units is better; more is even better).
    If a unit sinks, just let them sink and carry on with the rest of your apiary.
    Just sitting on 2-3 units is not really a good approach (especially as you are talking of staying away from medicating).

    No need to over-analyze every single die-off.
    5-10 minute look at the dead is sufficient to get a good idea. If the issue is not clear still, well, then just move on.
    Every single queen (openly mated) is a final product of randomly thrown dice (be it from the same producer and from the same batch and from the same mother queen - randomness is still present).
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    2,178

    Default Re: Late swarm?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yunzow View Post
    ....We have about six acres of forest. ...
    Gee, I wish I had six acres of forest.
    Instead, I have my own hives spread across 6 various properties in a radius of 10 miles (only one if these properties is mine - the tiny backyard).

    Nothing wrong with putting the hives under the trees.
    I am doing exactly that (well, the SHB is less of a concern in WI - just to be fair).
    One of my landlords was rather surprised when I selected the most overgrown, un-passable, full of mosquitoes part of their property for my hives.
    Well, that was EXACTLY what I wanted - to keep the people away from my bees.
    Works great.

    All in all, I have no problems finding spots for my hives.
    I don't have enough bees to setup all the potential yards that I could.
    The less taken care the property, the better.
    Bush with mosquitoes/weeds/woods/swamps/abandoned pits - all the better (no people around).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame experimentation.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Lilburn, GA, USA
    Posts
    663

    Default Re: Late swarm?

    Thanks for the advice Greg, that is helpful.

    Come to think of it I am reminded of pictures I once saw of hundreds of hives in a forest in India.

    Yes, I plop some in the forest, I could have hundreds that no-one would ever know about.

    Curiously, I have seen small hive beetles in my hives, but not to the numbers of being overly concerned about them.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Gee, I wish I had six acres of forest.
    Instead, I have my own hives spread across 6 various properties in a radius of 10 miles (only one if these properties is mine - the tiny backyard).

    Nothing wrong with putting the hives under the trees.
    I am doing exactly that (well, the SHB is less of a concern in WI - just to be fair).
    One of my landlords was rather surprised when I selected the most overgrown, un-passable, full of mosquitoes part of their property for my hives.
    Well, that was EXACTLY what I wanted - to keep the people away from my bees.
    Works great.

    All in all, I have no problems finding spots for my hives.
    I don't have enough bees to setup all the potential yards that I could.
    The less taken care the property, the better.
    Bush with mosquitoes/weeds/woods/swamps/abandoned pits - all the better (no people around).
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

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