We didnt plan on catching swarms but one fell in our laps...
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
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    Kearneysville, WV
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    86

    Default We didnt plan on catching swarms but one fell in our laps...

    Well we had an exciting afternoon yesterday. We are new beekeepers and got our first three hives last spring. Thankfully all three made it through the winter and I prepared some new boxes with brand new frames to add as honey supers along with queen excluders. Being new to this we had never considered catching swarms but my wife called me out yesterday to find that three branches on one of our leland trees had a swarm hanging on them. So being totally prepared and experienced keepers we did the obvious...we began running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

    We quickly grabbed two of the freshly added boxes from one of our hives as they were bee-less, the bees hadnt yet moved up through the excluder to them to build them out. I didn't have any spare bases/lids so quickly cut up a couple of squares of birch ply to act as a floor/ceiling. Cut a 1/14" hold in the front of one of the boxes and placed the hacked together 'hive' near the tree. With this prepared we gently cut each of the branches and shook then over the boxes to allow the bees to fall in.

    For the first 15-30 mins it seemed like thousands of angry bees were flying around trying to work out what was going on but we left them alone and an hour later things had settled down and they are still in the boxes. So, I guess we just 'captured' our first swarm!!

    Reading through a few threads it seems the first thing to do, other than probably leave them in peace for a few days, is to treat for mites. Once they have been treated we can move the box (along with a proper lid/base) to the apiary with our other three. This is @100-150 feet away and by then I know (?) we will have to close them up once moved for 48 hours.

    I guess one question arises... I have seen numerous mentions of ensuring they have built out frames, to encourage them to stay. I do have some frames, should I open up the boxes and insert them today or just leave them in peace. They have two mediums with 20 brand new frames at present.

    I know many reading this will be raising their eyebrows, with hundreds of swarms under their belt but I have to admit, it got the adrenaline going!! :-)

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
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    6,095

    Default Re: We didnt plan on catching swarms but one fell in our laps...

    Congratulations!

    Well, it always helps to give them some foundation if you have it. I would probably think about giving them a frame or two of brood from your other colonies.....mixed if you have it...as that helps anchor the swarm. They may not need both boxes once they settle down but you'll know the size best. If you can feed them a little syrup, that would help them build out some comb but you may have a flow already and that would be great for them.

    Do you think it's your own swarm? I've often caught my own swarms even though I was pretty certain my colonies were doing just fine.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Kearneysville, WV
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    86

    Default Re: We didnt plan on catching swarms but one fell in our laps...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenseye View Post
    Congratulations!

    Well, it always helps to give them some foundation if you have it. I would probably think about giving them a frame or two of brood from your other colonies.....mixed if you have it...as that helps anchor the swarm. They may not need both boxes once they settle down but you'll know the size best. If you can feed them a little syrup, that would help them build out some comb but you may have a flow already and that would be great for them.

    Do you think it's your own swarm? I've often caught my own swarms even though I was pretty certain my colonies were doing just fine.
    Your final sentence was something we did think a little about about yesterday. I cracked the top of each of my three existing hives and in all three the top of the 3rd box was filled with bees. I, possibly wrongly, assumed that meant all three were busy and not the cause. I didn't explore further at that time as we were due some wind and a little rain. I will try to go through the hives today to see if any of them is significantly down in volume. I don't honestly think it is one of them but if so I guess the silver lining to the cloud is that we just did a 'split'.

    I need to run to our local supplier today to get a new lid/base and some more frames to make up for those we used for the swarm. When I am installing the base I might try to switch in some built out frames and 1-2 frames of eggs/brood.

    Thanks for the feedback.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    Pepperell, MA.
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    Default Re: We didnt plan on catching swarms but one fell in our laps...

    Most of the time when I've had a colony swarm I hardly noticed the difference in volume at all. In fact, I was blessed to watch one of mine swarm a few years back and it was one of the most breathtaking sights. I thought the bees would never stop boiling out of the hive. Later that day I caught the swarm and the next day I opened the hive that generated that swarm. It was still full to the top with bees. Look for swarm cells....something I could do a better job of myself!
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  6. #5

    Default Re: We didnt plan on catching swarms but one fell in our laps...

    You can be pretty sure it came from one of your hives. When a hive swarms it generally comes to a rest within sight of the donor colony.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Kearneysville, WV
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    86

    Default Re: We didnt plan on catching swarms but one fell in our laps...

    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    You can be pretty sure it came from one of your hives. When a hive swarms it generally comes to a rest within sight of the donor colony.
    Thanks all for the comments.

    ok, I will have to assume then that we managed to catch one of our own swarms.

    I will go through the hives today to look and see what is going on. Assuming one of them was the originator of the swarm we should expect a new queen to do mating flights in the next few days then? We are due to have @75 degrees and sunny today/tomorrow so I will keep a look out.

    I will put in the built out frames and some eggs/brood today also.

  8. #7

    Default Re: We didnt plan on catching swarms but one fell in our laps...

    I would expect to see either intact swarm cells or possibly one or two normally emerged cells, along with some damaged cells.
    Once a new queen emerges….probably soon but could still be a few days…..and she eliminates her rivals, then she will take a few days to mature before taking any mating flights. She may spend another few days taking those flights and may not begin laying immediately after.
    I would guess that you can expect at least two to three weeks before seeing any eggs.
    Someone will surely gig me on those numbers but I’m just giving you a general idea of the time frames.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    5,460

    Default Re: We didnt plan on catching swarms but one fell in our laps...

    take the excluders off and let the bees move up to start working the frames freely, once they start, then add the excluders if you feel they're necessary.

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