swarm on cairn
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Thread: swarm on cairn

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    Default swarm on cairn

    How would you handle this situation? Bees on a cairn? My gut says it could have been done better than what we did. Run down of what happened:

    -My dad has kept bees in the past, didn't have any as of yesterday, but did have equipment. Heard a swarm, walked to the nextdoor neighbor's house and watch them gather on a cairn.

    -Brought over a bait hive with lgo, but they didn't show much interest.

    -I tried to get them to walk onto frames (with wax foundation, but not drawn, working with what we have here). They didn't.

    The day was moving along, so we got a hive body ready for them, and maybe at about 5:30 decided to go ahead and spritz the bees down with sugar water and take the cairn apart, to physically put them into a box that we could then dump them into the hive body from. But . . . it's a cairn. It's precariously balanced, and built of heavy rocks. In the process, my dad dropped/fell with one of the larger rocks into the box, the bees got angry, we walked away, gave them a bit of space, got bees out of my hair, got a smoker, came back. After that, everything worked out OK, we were able to brush off the rest of the rocks, one by one, and not drop them, and dump swarm into the hive body. Still . . . I feel like there must have been a better way. Should we have left them to come into the bait hive or just spend the night on the cairn? (It got down to 39 degrees F here last night) And, what now? Feed them? I'm worried we may have squished the queen. (They've pulled a quite a few bee corpses onto their new front porch. :'( ) And pissed them off. How long should I just leave them alone? I don't want to scare them off. I'm thinking I should add 4 more frames to the deep sooner than later -- but should I just let them get some brood in before bothering them at all. What kind of time line protocol do y'all follow for swarm catching follow up?
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  3. #2
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    Default Re: swarm on cairn

    Given that you didn't have any equipment (like a vacuum) or resources (like comb,open brood) I think you did a fine job. The challenge will be getting them to stay put which open brood usually does. I would fill up the box with more frames and start feeding them sugar water to try to get them to draw the foundation out. If they start doing that, they are likely to stay. Are there any drones? Can you tell yet if you have the queen? You might want to put a queen excluder on the bottom board for a few days but you have to be sure drones do not clog it up. You could try adding a small upper entrance just big enough for a drone to get through.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: swarm on cairn

    There may be a few drones, but don't seem to be many. They're definitely out and about foraging, and coming back -- the neighbor whose yard they landed in has 3 large ornamental cherries that are in full bloom and they seem to be all over that. And they've pulled out the dead and some debris. That makes me think that they're staying put. (Fingers still crossed -- don't want to jinx myself here.) Somehow or another they do seem to be favoring going in at the top -- the lid I put on them just isn't a good fit, and they're "sneaking" under the inner cover that way, but also coming and going out the bottom entrance. My dad isn't' a big believer in queen excluders, but I'm sure he has one or two around somewhere in all this stuff -- I'll look for it when I go over there later today and give them more sugar, but at this point I'm also thinking it might not be necessary...

  5. #4
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    Default Re: swarm on cairn

    It sounds like they are going to stay and have food, so excluder is unnecessary, and feeding may be unnecessary. Some people would still feed to help them get going on comb drawing and raising brood. Not knowing your flow I can't say for sure. I would feed, but many would disagree with me.
    Many people run both an upper and lower entrance. Not a big deal unless there is a danger of robbing and you want to use robber screens. Since you have a flow going, probably not a major concern right now. Is your inner cover notched? You could have it turned the "wrong way" allowing it to be used as an upper entrance. If that's how they are getting in, flip it so the open part of notch is up and then slide back telescoping cover to the back which will block the notch. J

  6. #5
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    Default Re: swarm on cairn

    OK -- so we went in today, quickly, just to have a look at what's up. (We're 9 days in.) They are pulling the foundation, and saving up nectar & pollen, but I didn't see eggs or larvae or the queen. Would that be because they're starting with foundation and not drawn comb? Or do I need to worry about the queen / re-queening?

  7. #6
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    Default Re: swarm on cairn

    Quote Originally Posted by naomi1431 View Post
    ...They are pulling the foundation, and saving up nectar & pollen, but I didn't see eggs or larvae or the queen. Would that be because they're starting with foundation and not drawn comb? Or do I need to worry about the queen / re-queening?
    I would assume a virgin queen and not be too antsy until two weeks after their landing on the cairn. They build comb as they need it, so that is a good sign.

    I would move them away from the street. three feet a day or several miles, your circumstances will dictate which is best. I think you are doing well.
    ...We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are...

  8. #7
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    Default Re: swarm on cairn

    Thanks for the words of wisdom, Lburou! We've moved them away from the street -- so at least we're good on that front. The thought of a virgin queen didn't even cross my mind, but that does make a lot of sense. I was searching for what a package would look like a week in -- and what I was seeing was eggs and larvae, but I guess package queens are mated.

    Naomi

  9. #8
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    Thumbs Up Re: swarm on cairn

    Like fivej I would tend to feed, but it is optional when nectar is readily available. If you do feed, I'd only allow one small entrance until they can defend against robbing bees drawn by your feeding. Be sure not to spill sugar syrup while placing or refilling the feeder, because spilled syrup will draw robbers, and once they get started your new hive is in danger of being robbed out. HTH
    ...We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are...

  10. #9
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    Default Re: swarm on cairn

    Quick update: Looked yesterday and was able to id capped honey, nectar, pollen, worker brood, uncapped brood. Didn't see the queen or eggs, but I'm sure that's me and not them and I didn't want to poke around too long. Their deep is probably 50% full (I think 16 days in?), so I'm thinking to add another super in a week or two.

    Naomi

  11. #10
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    Default Re: swarm on cairn

    It sounds like you are in business with that swarm Naomi. Consider adding a second super when 80% of the frames in the original hive body are drawn out and covered with bees.
    ...We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are...

  12. #11
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    Default Re: swarm on cairn

    Sounds like success! I agree with Lburou, add a super when frames are at 80% so you may want to check it sooner rather than later. Keep them drawing that comb! J

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