Should I feed a swarm?
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 39
  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    90

    Default Should I feed a swarm?

    All of my hives swarmed today. Caught three swarms. We are expecting lows in the thirties for four nights. I lost a weak, but queenright hive week ago due to a spring cold snap down here. The colony had brood, but their stores were low. I tried to feed them syrup thinking they had enough, but they starved out during the cold. That history leaves wondering if I should feed the swarms I just caught (gonna steal a honey frame from my other hives). Because it was raining I wasn't able to give them a frame from another hive when I grabbed them. I'm nervous that disturbing them less than twenty four hours after collection is gonna send them on their way. On the other hand, I'm not sure they can survive the cold without a bit of help.
    Any thoughts?

    Thx

  2. Remove Advertisements
    BeeSource.com
    Advertisements
     

  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Izard County, AR, USA
    Posts
    128

    Default Re: Should I feed a swarm?

    I'm usually more worried about letting too much heat out by opening the box when it's chilly and they aren't established. If the weather is crappy they aren't going to be flying much, you can close the box entrance for a few days to make them stay. If they swarmed from a decent colony, they should have filled up on stores before swarming, they are probably already drawing white wax....

    You mentioned stealing a frame from another hive, but sugar slurry is a faster energy source for a swarm than honey, and remember they need to get water to dilute honey before they can eat it, especially if it has crystallized in the frame you steal for them. So if they can't fly, either due to bad weather or the fact that you closed them in to make them stay, they can't get water. If you have a frame of drawn comb, you can pour dry sugar into the empty cells, and then spray a little warm water on it, enough to make a sludge/slurry. You can put that right next to them for instant energy.....

    If it's a small swarm, don't do too big of an area of sugar, or they won't be able to protect it from hive beetles.

    Anyway, that's what I do with little swarms that need help.
    8 years, 30 colonies, no chemical treatments

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
    Posts
    1,452

    Default Re: Should I feed a swarm?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dmlehman View Post
    I'm nervous that disturbing them less than twenty four hours after collection is gonna send them on their way. On the other hand, I'm not sure they can survive the cold without a bit of help.
    Any thoughts?
    They should be ok on what they're carrying for a couple of days but, if you consider you're between a rock and a hard place with regard to feeding, then I'd suggest topping up their stores as late in the day as possible - which should prevent them from taking-off that day. You could also try putting some mesh over the entrance that evening which would guarantee they stay home the next day too. Once they've started drawing comb you should be ok - certainly as soon as eggs are laid, you can start relaxing.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Grand Rapids MI USA
    Posts
    1,490

    Default Re: Should I feed a swarm?

    As c-bees mentioned they stock up on stores before swarming, you might have a starving situation in the hives that cast the swarms, better keep an eye on them also. Sometimes it seems that bees will make irrational decisions when it comes to reproduction.
    Rod

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Hampton Arkansas
    Posts
    136

    Default Re: Should I feed a swarm?

    I would steal a frame of open brood from my other hives if I had it, that would keep them in the box then I would feed them sugar water

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Red Bud, IL, USA
    Posts
    1,803

    Default Re: Should I feed a swarm?

    +1 with GregH. Give them some brood and warm syrup in a baggie feeder on the top bars.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Gainesboro, Tennessee
    Posts
    1,407

    Default Re: Should I feed a swarm?

    If the bees need feed they need feed. I'd move them to a different yard and then feed but that is just me.
    Splitting a first year hive successfully https://youtu.be/ZfRTreQ-S9c

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    washington, vermont, USA
    Posts
    368

    Default Re: Should I feed a swarm?

    Sugar bricks are better than syrup if it's cold out. I would put one right on the top bars over top where they're clustered.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    90

    Default Re: Should I feed a swarm?

    I appreciate all of the responses. I hadn't considered the possibility that the source hives may also need a bit of help after the swarms left (loaded with stores). The weather is supposed to be in the fifties during the day and thirties/very forties until next Saturday. I'm gonna head to the beeyard in a few minutes and add baggy feeders to all of the hives and then make myself scarce for a few days.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Should I feed a swarm?

    Quote Originally Posted by vtbeeguy View Post
    Sugar bricks are better than syrup if it's cold out.
    I'm not so sure about this.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Suffolk Co, NY, USA
    Posts
    3,626

    Default Re: Should I feed a swarm?

    If it's cold, I agree, sugar bricks or better yet fondant are best.

  13. #12

    Default Re: Should I feed a swarm?

    Quote Originally Posted by clyderoad View Post
    If it's cold, I agree, sugar bricks or better yet fondant are best.
    I believe that we have had this dialog before.
    You state it as though it were an established fact yet, unless I’ve missed something it is only your subjective opinion. I wish you would at least state it as such. Allow readers to understand that it isn’t an absolute fact.
    In my opinion stored honey, regardless of its source is best. I believe that sugar syrup is much more readily available to the bees than a sugar block or fondant.
    Granulated sugar, sugar blocks and fondant are better than nothing but less than ideal. The bees are unable to consume them as solids. They must be diluted first.
    All in my opinion.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Suffolk Co, NY, USA
    Posts
    3,626

    Default Re: Should I feed a swarm?

    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    I believe that we have had this dialog before.
    You state it as though it were an established fact yet, unless I’ve missed something it is only your subjective opinion.
    We have had a dialog about sugar, fondant etc before yes, but that has little bearing on this conversation or my statement.

    What you missed is the cold conditions as described by the OP. Under those conditions cold syrup is last to be used by hungry bees if they use it at all, but they will readily take fondant.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    3,748

    Default Re: Should I feed a swarm?

    While you guys are busy with the ruler, keep in mind the OP is in NC. My bees are taking syrup now and in large quantities on the warmer days and I am 100 + miles north of Dmlehman. In fact, I am pretty sure we have a fair amount of nectar and pollen coming in, so any feeding is supplemental for those days the bees can't fly. An inhive feeder or hive top feeder like the baggies will be fine.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  16. #15

    Default Re: Should I feed a swarm?

    Quote Originally Posted by clyderoad View Post
    What you missed is the cold conditions as described by the OP. Under those conditions cold syrup is last to be used by hungry bees if they use it at all, but they will readily take fondant.
    Where did you get this? How do the bees dilute the sugar in the cold? Where do they get the warm water? Why is cold sugar more consumable in cold weather? Why would syrup be less available?
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Suffolk Co, NY, USA
    Posts
    3,626

    Default Re: Should I feed a swarm?

    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    Where did you get this? How do the bees dilute the sugar in the cold? Where do they get the warm water? Why is cold sugar more consumable in cold weather? Why would syrup be less available?
    You can not be serious.

  18. #17

    Default Re: Should I feed a swarm?

    Quote Originally Posted by clyderoad View Post
    You can not be serious.
    Absolutely serious. Yet….I have no intention of debating our opinions as I suspect we are equally certain of our own beliefs.
    To the readers of this thread...please take the opinions expressed by anyone....me or clyderoad with a grain of salt….or sugar as the case might be.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  19. #18

    Default Re: Should I feed a swarm?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dmlehman View Post
    All of my hives swarmed today.
    Which is a bit surprising to me. I had one hive swarm on March 2. This was weeks earlier than I have ever seen one here before. This week I got through 25 hives and only found two that had even started any swarm cells.
    To what do you attribute such an early group of swarms?
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  20. #19
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    90

    Default Re: Should I feed a swarm?

    I am not sure that I am qualified to assign a cause to the swarms, but they swarmed. I started feeding them about three weeks ago. They all had brood (all stages) and a few drones, but no swarm cells. They've been pulling in pollen consistently for a few weeks. I collected ~200 g from two hives during the four days before they took flight. This was the first week the traps were open (planned to close them after 7 days). Today when putting syrup baggies (containing sugar paste, tried to compromise with the suggestions) on them, I noticed a slew of drones in one of the hives. Without digging deep, I could see lots of capped brood and it looked like they were drawing out new comb on the outside of the outer frames. I suspected they were getting cramped a few weeks ago and gave them another medium chamber (intended to be a second brood chamber), but they didn't touch it so I pulled it off just before the cold snap thinking it would be better to keep the space they needed to heat smaller. As I pointed out before, I was concerned about space, so I really tried not to overfeed (or at least i don't think I over did it - less than two gallons of 1:1). Since they didn't draw new comb, I dumped off the remaining syrup when I removed the chamber I added. Also, after counting mites (~2%), I opted to treat with Apivar about the same time (followed manufacturer instructions) I started feeding. I guess there are a lot of potential reasons for swarming. I was trying to be proactive this year, but, of course, they beat me, again. My guess is instead of drawing new comb when I fed them, they filled existing comb with syrup, ran out of brood space, tried to draw new comb on the edges and jumped ship anyway. Not sure what I should do with them next.

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    washington, vermont, USA
    Posts
    368

    Default Re: Should I feed a swarm?

    Not trying to "get into it" or ruffle feathers but if you live in Georgia what real world experience do you have with bees and cold? It is a hard fact that if bees are out of food and its cold sugar bricks, or fondant, or even loose sugar are all usable sources of energy for them and therefore valuable. However syrup at those temps is WORTHLESS. Honey is best but that's not always possible for newer beeks to have extra around and adding honey from unknown sources is a no no PERIOD.
    I think the "sugar paste" in the baggies was a great idea and good middle ground to take. Sugar is cheap insurance against starvation. A fresh swarm with no comb or stores confined by bad weather for a few days.... you did the right thing imo by giving them something. Best of luck bud.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •