Do hived swarms need some place to draw comb?
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  1. #1
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    Default Do hived swarms need some place to draw comb?

    I helped an elderly friend hive a swarm today. He only had drawn foundation so the bees went into a nuc with a frame of honey, a frame of open/sealed brood and 3 drawn frames. I got to wondering if having nowhere for a swarm to build wax could make them feel like their new cavity is too small and cause them to swarm out very quickly.
    I've always placed some plain foundation in my hived swarms but I did this mainly because I like using their wax building ability to my advantage. That said I've still had my share of swarms take off on me.
    Thanks
    "Challenger" as in the Mopar muscle car. Not a personality description .
    Keeping bees to raise money for chordoma.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Do hived swarms need some place to draw comb?

    I put a queen excluder under the hive box for 3-4 days to keep the queen from leaving. After that time they have usually started building comb and will stay. I remove the excluder then, so if the queen is a virgin, she can take her mating flights. A frame with open brood usually works too.
    "Sometimes the best action, with bees, is no action at all."

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Do hived swarms need some place to draw comb?

    I don't know if there is a "scientific" answer to your question, but since reproduction and survival are the most basic instincts, I would think that the bees would welcome/prefer drawn comb. When they swarm, they are kinda under the gun to get a new colony established.I think the folks who swarm trap a lot will confirm that drawn comb helps ensure success. J

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Do hived swarms need some place to draw comb?

    Just an update - this gentleman texted me today and said the bees took off after the second day so??
    BTW - I trap bees every year but I've never put more than two frames of old drawn comb in. I use ten frame hive bodies for my traps and I usually get double digit swarms in my traps. The rest of the frames have a strip on frames.
    I have to believe the wax building bees need to get rid of the wax that their glands are producing but this is just theory based on very limited experience.
    "Challenger" as in the Mopar muscle car. Not a personality description .
    Keeping bees to raise money for chordoma.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Do hived swarms need some place to draw comb?

    Bummer about losing the bees. I do what GaryG74 does when hiving a loose swarm. Figured it out real quick when the queen flew the coop and went right back to the branch I had just shaken her off of.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Do hived swarms need some place to draw comb?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Bummer about losing the bees. I do what GaryG74 does when hiving a loose swarm. Figured it out real quick when the queen flew the coop and went right back to the branch I had just shaken her off of.
    They did have:
    a frame of open/sealed brood
    I would be wondering of the nuc box itself.
    Was it by a chance brand new shiny box, freshly painted inside and out?
    See what I am getting at?
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Ukrainian frame experimentation.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Do hived swarms need some place to draw comb?

    Quote Originally Posted by challenger View Post
    .....having nowhere for a swarm to build wax could make them feel like their new cavity is too small and cause them to swarm out very quickly.
    So how big the nuc was anyway?
    How big the swarm was (with respect to the nuc)?
    Was it a good fit? Maybe not?
    Last edited by GregV; 04-03-2019 at 09:20 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Ukrainian frame experimentation.

  9. #8
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    Default

    Old nuc box. One frame open/sealed brood. The swarm was onlt about a 5" ball. Not too big for the nuc box
    "Challenger" as in the Mopar muscle car. Not a personality description .
    Keeping bees to raise money for chordoma.

  10. #9
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    Salt Lake City, UT
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    Default Re: Do hived swarms need some place to draw comb?

    If they took off then they probably thought the nuc was too small. Research by Tom Seeley indicates that swarms look for a volume of about 40 liters. They don't seem to be looking for what the swarm fits, they are looking for what the swarm will grow into. See https://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/2653 A Langstroth deep is 42 liters. A nuc is half that.
    Zone 5B

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Do hived swarms need some place to draw comb?

    For 5" ball of bees 20 liter nuc is plenty.
    They just weren't meant to be.
    Good riddance.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Ukrainian frame experimentation.

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