Caught swarm absconded or went back into original hive?
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  1. #1
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    Jun 2015
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    Litchfield, Ct, USA
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    Default Caught swarm absconded or went back into original hive?

    Caught my first swarm yesterday. Put them in a nuc and was going to transfer to a deep today. Put the nuc next to the old hive where I'm pretty sure the swarm came from. This morning there were a bunch of bees outside the nuc fanning with their butts in the air. The hive next to it had a bunch of bees fanning as well for some reason. Two hours later and all the bees in the nuc ARE GONE! What the heck?

    Is it possible the swarm re-entered its old hive? Or did they just not like the nuc for some reason and absconded?

    There are still some bees flying around where I caught the swarm yesterday. Why would they go back to that spot unless there was a queen still there? They aren't balling up or anything, but just flying around and generally hanging out there (just like a dozen or so).

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  3. #2
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    Jun 2015
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    Litchfield, Ct, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo3 View Post
    Caught my first swarm yesterday. Put them in a nuc and was going to transfer to a deep today. Put the nuc next to the old hive where I'm pretty sure the swarm came from. This morning there were a bunch of bees outside the nuc fanning with their butts in the air. The hive next to it had a bunch of bees fanning as well for some reason. Two hours later and all the bees in the nuc ARE GONE! What the heck?

    Is it possible the swarm re-entered its old hive? Or did they just not like the nuc for some reason and absconded?

    There are still some bees flying around where I caught the swarm yesterday. Why would they go back to that spot unless there was a queen still there? They aren't balling up or anything, but just flying around and generally hanging out there (just like a dozen or so).
    Never mind, I found the (re)swarm. I shook them in a box and will let them settle for a bit. Hopefully grab a frame of eggs from another hive and hopefully they'll stay this time.

    Question is, why did they leave? Did I miss the queen yesterday?

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
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    NW Florida
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    Default Re: Caught swarm absconded or went back into original hive?

    If they were fanning, you may have missed the queen. I like to put a frame of larvae in and sometimes a queen excluder on the bottom to keep her majesty inside.
    Beek since 2016: Hardiness Zone 9a: in NW Florida

  5. #4
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    May 2012
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    Greenwich, New York, USA
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    Whether catching a swarm, swarm trap or cut out it is best practice to secure the queen as the first priority. No queen means no nothing except a bunch of bees that want to be somewhere else. Rarely will you lose your catch if you have the queen hived from my experience.

  6. #5
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    Apr 2009
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    Norfolk County, UK
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    Default Re: Caught swarm absconded or went back into original hive?

    If you didn't get the queen with the swarm, then they could well have gone back. However if they had a queen, they wanted to swarm to find a new home and if they didn't like the one you gave them, they would find a better one!
    Queen pheromone lasts a while - so the bees flying around where the queen used to be is a sign that she was there. After I collect a swarm I usually smoke their spot to mask the pheromones.
    May your bees read the same books as you do
    http://www.norfolkbee.co.uk/home

  7. #6
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    Jun 2015
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    Litchfield, Ct, USA
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    Default Re: Caught swarm absconded or went back into original hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jadeguppy View Post
    If they were fanning, you may have missed the queen. I like to put a frame of larvae in and sometimes a queen excluder on the bottom to keep her majesty inside.
    I thought fanning was an indication the queen was there?

  8. #7
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    Jun 2015
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    Litchfield, Ct, USA
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    Default Re: Caught swarm absconded or went back into original hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adamd View Post
    If you didn't get the queen with the swarm, then they could well have gone back. However if they had a queen, they wanted to swarm to find a new home and if they didn't like the one you gave them, they would find a better one!
    Queen pheromone lasts a while - so the bees flying around where the queen used to be is a sign that she was there. After I collect a swarm I usually smoke their spot to mask the pheromones.
    Thanks. The re-swarm I caught was about 20 feet from the original, so I'm assuming I didn't get the queen the first time. It was in a thick pricker-vine-infested area intertwined with a tree, so it was hard to shake it into a box. The 2nd swarm wasn't much better.

    I shook the box into a 10 frame deep, and borrowed 2 frames of nectar and 1 frame of brood from another hive. Should I still feed it even though I gave them nectar? I don't want to set off robbing from the other hives.

  9. #8
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    Jun 2015
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    Default Re: Caught swarm absconded or went back into original hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by BattenkillJB View Post
    Whether catching a swarm, swarm trap or cut out it is best practice to secure the queen as the first priority. No queen means no nothing except a bunch of bees that want to be somewhere else. Rarely will you lose your catch if you have the queen hived from my experience.
    It looks like my reply to you didn't go through, so this may or may not be a double post. I tried looking for the queen for a bit, but wasn't really in a great area and wanted to get out of there sooner than later.

  10. #9
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    May 2012
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    Greenwich, New York, USA
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    There is a little trick I have used with swarms. Dump what you can in a box. Patiently wait a few minutes and if the queen is not in the box they form a small cluster about the size of a softball with the queen. Catch that softball cluster and you now have the queen. Happened several times. Takes incredible luck to see the queen in the initial cluster.

  11. #10
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    Jun 2015
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    Litchfield, Ct, USA
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    Default Re: Caught swarm absconded or went back into original hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by BattenkillJB View Post
    There is a little trick I have used with swarms. Dump what you can in a box. Patiently wait a few minutes and if the queen is not in the box they form a small cluster about the size of a softball with the queen. Catch that softball cluster and you now have the queen. Happened several times. Takes incredible luck to see the queen in the initial cluster.
    Thanks for the tip, I was probably too impatient. I see you're from Greenwich. I just bought a nuc from your area in April! Just found an unmarked queen today wandering around aimlessly in that hive on an upper, undrawn deep (posted pic in beekeeping 101), so now I'm not sure if that's where the swarm came from.

    I'm curious to know if there's the nuc's marked queen in the swarm, but I don't want to disturb it too much. I've already caught it twice!

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