Odd? Swarm behaviour
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Lambton Shores, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    259

    Default Odd? Swarm behaviour

    I have a question about what I think is odd behaviour for a swarm.

    A few weeks ago I did some quick splits, trying to get the splits in (to limit swarming) before 2 weeks of work travel. Long story short, because I was rushing I moved too many queen cells to the splits, so while the old hives were fine, the splits both swarmed. Of course, I was travelling at the time, so swarm capture fell onto the shoulders of my ever patient wife, who caught both of the large swarms that formed.

    The odd thing was that there was a small ball of bees, sitting beneath one of the hives that swarmed. We assumed at first that it was a small part of one of the swarms that got lost when my wife moved the bulk of their swarm into a trap. But the hives swarmed on Tuesday, and the ball of bees was still there on Sunday (when I finally returned home). On Sunday I began moving these bees to a new box, and lo-and-behold, it was a mini-swarm complete with a queen! She is now caged in the box, in the hopes that they will establish a colony. Its a small swarm - two softball's in size or so - but I'm hoping it thrives.

    Anyway's, my questions. During the 5-6 days where this swarm sat beneath a hive, the did literally nothing. No comb was drawn (aside from a little speckling of wax like most swarms leave behind), and while bees constantly moved in and out of the cluster, there was no movement of the swarm from where they settled, nor that I could see, any pollen being brought back. Yesterday, when I moved them to a box, the bees seemed healthy and vigorous, so I don't think they're ill...so my questions are:

    1) Is it normal for a swarm to just sit around and do "nothing" for nearly a week? and
    2) Is there any concerns/risks associated with this swarm that I should be aware of?

    I'll be checking them later tonight to see how they are doing, and I'm planning on releasing the queen tomorrow (Tuesday), but I have no other details at this time.

    Thanx

    Bryan

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
    Posts
    2,062

    Default Re: Odd? Swarm behaviour

    I can't say from experience, but I have read that this type of swarm probably came from the hive they settled under and was lead by a cast or virgin queen. No idea, but I have read about this happening and it seems plausible because these bugs continue to baffle me every day. They are rebels and do not follow rules or play nicely. J

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Lambton Shores, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    259

    Default Re: Odd? Swarm behaviour

    As of last night they were still not doing anything; just huddling around the caged queen in the swarm box I set them up in. It looks like half the bees are either out gathering resources or have absconded. I transferred over some new comb & workers from another swarm to see if I could kick-start them into action.
    Last edited by SuiGeneris; 06-18-2019 at 06:09 AM.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
    Posts
    2,062

    Default Re: Odd? Swarm behaviour

    What does the queen look like? J

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    3,414

    Default Re: Odd? Swarm behaviour

    If the queen is a virgin, keeping her in a cage is not going end well.

    What you describe must happen often. I was laying on the ground looking up into my hives when I found not one , but two hives that had comb drawn underneath them. And, at some point there had been brood in the comb. Both of these hives had swarmed earlier in the year and currently have mated queens in them. My best guess is a second queen got mated, but was not allowed back in the hive and set up shop outside. Wish I had seen them as there were no longer bees on the combs when I found them.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Lambton Shores, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    259

    Default Re: Odd? Swarm behaviour

    The queen is rather small; especially her abdomen. I've since released her - the bees drew a bit of comb over her cage, but otherwise didn't do anything. I move the startings of a new comb over form another swarm in the hopes that might jump-start things. I guess there is nothing to do but cross my fingers and hope she mates, comes back, and the colony survives. I figure if I don't see comb + eggs in a week I should just pinch the queen and recombine the bees back into a hive.

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