any records (max days) for a swarm to hang out?
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  1. #1
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    Question any records (max days) for a swarm to hang out?

    One of my hives swarmed (as I mentioned in an earlier post) on Monday; today is Thursday. In that time, the gang has clustered onto a tall stump in my front yard and has stayed there -- despite night temps hovering at/below 40 degrees F, and (!) a day-and-a-half of rain, and gray otherwise. I already had 4 swarm traps around the yard, and placed 1 more (2 nucs together, with some old comb, empty frames, lemongrass oil) adjacent to the swarm (yest. morning). At first they seemed curious, but now .... not much interest. I even added a frame feeder with some syrup this a.m. to tempt 'em. There was a little uptick in bees exploring then.

    OK; so .... isn't 3 days a long time for a swarm to stay homeless? Could it be they don't wanna be so close to their original digs, but haven't found anything better elsewhere yet?

    Does anybody have an anecdote re: a lengthy time they've seen a swarm stay-put?

    Thx for any feedback ....
    Mitch

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: any records (max days) for a swarm to hang out?

    I'm interested in this as well! I have a gazillion scouts in my swarm trap for 6 consecutive days (until it started raining), which seems like a very long time.
    Painted Peacock Manor, Palos Verdes, CA

  4. #3
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    St. Charles, MO, USA
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    Default Re: any records (max days) for a swarm to hang out?

    I started my second hive from a swarm when I was a kid. The beekeeper said it left his hive and went across the street to the yard where we (my father and I) got it 5 days before. He also told us that that he thought it was queenless because it had been there so long. It was vicious! My father was stung about 100 times. We got it home and I put it in a hive with a feeder and we ordered a queen. The swarm left the hive and clustered on a branch maybe 10 feet away. When I finally got the queen a few days later, the bees were still there. I put the queen (still in her cage) in the hive and they went in on there own and stayed put.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: any records (max days) for a swarm to hang out?

    Quote Originally Posted by ffrtsaxk View Post
    I started my second hive from a swarm when I was a kid. The beekeeper said it left his hive and went across the street to the yard where we (my father and I) got it 5 days before. He also told us that that he thought it was queenless because it had been there so long. It was vicious! My father was stung about 100 times. We got it home and I put it in a hive with a feeder and we ordered a queen. The swarm left the hive and clustered on a branch maybe 10 feet away. When I finally got the queen a few days later, the bees were still there. I put the queen (still in her cage) in the hive and they went in on there own and stayed put.
    Interesting idea; I wondered if maybe this cluster is staying because -- since it's been cold and/or rainy -- they didn't wanna jeopardize the queen's safety by spreading out in such weather [losing valuable heat].

    Re: getting a new queen -- I have the feeling she wouldn't survive if I put her in the nuc-paradigm I've made. Too cold.

    Thx for the story; I have the feeling there're plenty out there like that -- swarms that don't follow the script or get the memo .....

    Mitch

  6. #5
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    Default Re: any records (max days) for a swarm to hang out?

    Why in the world wouldn't you just walk the hell over to them and COLLECT THEM!!!!! Why go through the effort to put out more swarm traps and feed but not walk over with said swarm trap and brush them into it??? I must be missing something. Are they too high up?

  7. #6
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    DFW area, TX, USA
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    Thumbs Up Re: any records (max days) for a swarm to hang out?

    Quote Originally Posted by IAmTheWaterbug View Post
    I'm interested in this as well! I have a gazillion scouts in my swarm trap for 6 consecutive days (until it started raining), which seems like a very long time.
    Recent observations and research from Tom Seeley's lab documented scout activity before a swarm leaves the parent hive. That could explain scout activity over a longer period than you would expect. There could be more than one swarm sizing up the new home as well. That same research reports that scout bees can occupy and defend the new home well in advance of the arrival of a swarm. HTH

    Three days isn't terribly long, but it seems like they would have moved on by then. Your weather explains a lot mlanden.
    ...We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are...

  8. #7
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    Default Re: any records (max days) for a swarm to hang out?

    Quote Originally Posted by vtbeeguy View Post
    Why in the world wouldn't you just walk the hell over to them and COLLECT THEM!!!!! Why go through the effort to put out more swarm traps and feed but not walk over with said swarm trap and brush them into it??? I must be missing something. Are they too high up?
    Good question "Does anybody have an anecdote re: a lengthy time they've seen a swarm stay-put?"
    The longest I have collected, had been there for eight days, before the homeowner decided to call me.
    Please excuse me, I am now free to go manage & treat ;)
    my ladies the best way I know how.

  9. #8
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    Milford, Michigan USA
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    Default Re: any records (max days) for a swarm to hang out?

    I had a swarm that left the hive in mid August, clustered at the top of a 30 foot spruce, drew comb on the branch and stayed until the weather killed them in November.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: any records (max days) for a swarm to hang out?

    Quote Originally Posted by vtbeeguy View Post
    Why in the world wouldn't you just walk the hell over to them and COLLECT THEM!!!!! Why go through the effort to put out more swarm traps and feed but not walk over with said swarm trap and brush them into it??? I must be missing something. Are they too high up?
    Nope -- they're only ~4' up the stump. The stump is at an angle that made me think a good brushing could kill/injure lots of bees -- and, possibly, the queen. As well, the stump's in a thicket, and I wanted to minimize disturbance (i.e, not do a lot of chopping/clipping in the environs to get a box there). The only swarms I've successfully snared were those hanging off branches I could clip and then lower into a box (or "dump" into a box, with a strong, quick shake). Sweeping off a stump or tree trunk was a disaster, and if I can avoid doing that, I will. I don't have the experience to go messing a lot with routines the old-time beeks wouldn't think 2X about ....


    I may borrow a friend's bee vacuum and see what happens.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: any records (max days) for a swarm to hang out?

    You really don't need experience or do a routine to scoop/sweep the bees, and you are running the risk of having all of them die if you do nothing. Yes, you will probably kill a few, but so does a vacuum. You don't need to get every single bee. In fact, there is only one you need...Her Majesty, and the rest will follow. Get a 5 gal bucket and scoop them up in your hand and into the bucket. The queen will likely be in the large cluster. Dump them in your box. You will know pretty quick if you have the queen. Remember, they are very gentle when swarming like this and your risk of getting stung is very low. Go for it! J
    PS: I have only done this once in my second year and I admit my heart was racing and I was unsure of myself. But boy, nothing feels better than successfully hiving a swarm. If you don't do it, you will regret it. J

  12. #11
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    Default Re: any records (max days) for a swarm to hang out?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fivej View Post
    You really don't need experience or do a routine to scoop/sweep the bees, and you are running the risk of having all of them die if you do nothing. Yes, you will probably kill a few, but so does a vacuum. You don't need to get every single bee. In fact, there is only one you need...Her Majesty, and the rest will follow. Get a 5 gal bucket and scoop them up in your hand and into the bucket. The queen will likely be in the large cluster. Dump them in your box. You will know pretty quick if you have the queen. Remember, they are very gentle when swarming like this and your risk of getting stung is very low. Go for it! J
    PS: I have only done this once in my second year and I admit my heart was racing and I was unsure of myself. But boy, nothing feels better than successfully hiving a swarm. If you don't do it, you will regret it. J
    And there's no reason you can't wear a suit and gloves while doing this, if you're not up for "going commando" on a swarm capture. I suit up all the time, just because.

    Also, whenever possible I like to dump them onto a white sheet (or pillowcase) in front of a nuc, so I can watch them walk in. Sometimes you'll see Her Majesty "surf" on top of the bees as she heads towards the entrance, and then you can put her in a queen clip and place it inside, bringing your odds of a successful capture way, way up.

    I also just like watching them walk in
    Painted Peacock Manor, Palos Verdes, CA

  13. #12
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    Default Re: any records (max days) for a swarm to hang out?

    Quote Originally Posted by vtbeeguy View Post
    Why in the world wouldn't you just walk the hell over to them and COLLECT THEM!!!!! Why go through the effort to put out more swarm traps and feed but not walk over with said swarm trap and brush them into it??? I must be missing something. Are they too high up?
    If they were 40 feet up in a tree wave good by on a stump put the box close and put a hand full of bees in there they will tell the rest to walk on over

  14. #13
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    Default Re: any records (max days) for a swarm to hang out?

    OK, troops -- here's a little follow-up to anybody reading about the bee saga:

    Against better judgement (but going with instinct), I decided, after putting syrup into the swarm-adjacent nuc, to follow the old Buddhist tenet -- "To do nothing is to do everything". So .... I did nothing. Was away this afternoon (Friday), leaving the swarm in place, and getting back at 5, saw the cluster was gone. Checked a trap 10' away from the swarm's late site, and -- as far as I can tell -- I think the swarm moved into it! Lots of activity there now, with bees climbing all over the tree limbs and not with what I'd call scout agendae. I'll check for a few days to see if The Girls're bringing in pollen.

    Thx a zillion, guys, for all the input. I'll keep the recommendations in mind for the next time -- and I'm sure there'll be a next time. Best-o-luck with your charges ....

    Mitch
    Last edited by mlanden; 03-22-2019 at 06:23 PM. Reason: streamling the wordiness - some

  15. #14
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    Default

    I had a swarm on a Sunday and had to go out of town. I caught them the next Sunday and they had only built a small price of comb about the size of my palm.
    I had a lady from Ocala call me Thursday and said she’d had a swarm in her shrubs for 2 weeks. I’ve never seen one hang out that long.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: any records (max days) for a swarm to hang out?

    Quote Originally Posted by HiveBeetle View Post
    I had a swarm on a Sunday and had to go out of town. I caught them the next Sunday and they had only built a small price of comb about the size of my palm.
    I had a lady from Ocala call me Thursday and said she’d had a swarm in her shrubs for 2 weeks. I’ve never seen one hang out that long.
    I'm learning all the time about this stuff, beetle. Like somebody responded to my post -- weather was probably a (the?) major factor. When they swarmed Monday, it was OK out. Tuesday, gray and colder, Wed-Thurs, rainy and cold. Today was sunny and warmer in eastern NC (windy, though), so .... I guess they were patient enough to wait for better conditions. The sugar syrup they took from the nuc I placed next to 'em maybe gave 'em a little energy boost to last. Glad I did that, now....

  17. #16
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    Default Re: any records (max days) for a swarm to hang out?

    Not sure how well this works, but it is an method for catching a (ground) swarm that landed in long grass. It came from the bee club swarm catching meeting/presentation. They recommended putting a hive box with a few drawn out frames a few inches over the swarm and letting it sit for a while/overnight. You put the sides of the box on rocks or something to keep from squishing the bees. The swarm is attracted to the drawn frames and moves into the box and this is much easier then trying to collect them out of a bunch of grass. Not sure if this would have worked in this case, but I figured it was worth sharing.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: any records (max days) for a swarm to hang out?

    Congrats!

  19. #18
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    Default Re: any records (max days) for a swarm to hang out?

    Glad things worked out Mitch. Keep us posted on the final outcome.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: any records (max days) for a swarm to hang out?

    Thx, guys -- so far, so good; the Girls are really busy in their new digs. I put another 1.5 gal of syrup into the nuc's feeder (nearby), and it was Katie-bar-the-door. No robbing activity -- yet. The eagle has pretty much landed ....

    ML

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