A swarm moved in. Now what?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
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    Sherburne County MN USA
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    156

    Default A swarm moved in. Now what?

    I heard lots of bees buzzing today while I was standing in my yard. I went to my hives and a nice size swarm was just moving into one of my old empty hives. I've been keeping 9 yrs now. It was so exciting to witness because in 10 minutes they were inside and the flurry was over. Yes, I was jumping up and down. The hive has 2 boxes with frames of drawn comb. What do I do next? How long should I leave them be before opening the hood and taking a peak? Any other stuff I should know? Ive never had this happen.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: A swarm moved in. Now what?

    For starters, congratulations on your first swarm capture. The next thing to do is nothing. They are already in a hive. Give the girls a chance to get settled. Look for normal activty within a few days. Pollen coming in, guard bees on duty, foraging flights, etc. You may have a virgin queen but my guees is you caught a primary swarm with a mated queen. So, give them two weeks, take a peek and look for eggs or larvae. If you see any, close it back up and give them another week or two before doing an inspection. If you do not see eggs at week two, close it up and look again in a week. If still no eggs, queen may have been intercepted (eaten by a bird). In that case, give the swarm a frame of brood and let them make another queen. I bring this up because it happened to me in my own backyard and I did not catch it in time.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  4. #3
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    May 2013
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    Sherburne County MN USA
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    Default Re: A swarm moved in. Now what?

    Thank you JW! Very informative!

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Westmoreland county Pennsylvania
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    Default Re: A swarm moved in. Now what?

    If it were me I would have a hard time waiting more than a day or two before I cracked the lid and see what's u dear the hood. If nothing else see how many frames are occupied. It would take a very large swarm for me to not remove the second box you have on. Since they already are on comb I wouldn't wait more than another day or two before looking for eggs. I just started marking my queens this year so i can't keep myself from Looking to see what I got

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
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    Westmoreland county Pennsylvania
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    39

    Default Re: A swarm moved in. Now what?

    I would also feed them. Not sure what kind of nectar you have coming in now but food in the pantry would save them some work

  7. #6
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    May 2013
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    Sherburne County MN USA
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    Default Re: A swarm moved in. Now what?

    It's gonna kill me to wait but I will. Thankfully I can watch from the entrance. Tonight a few were out orienting the front of the hive. My grown son was over when I heard the buzzing, amazing how loud it was! So he got to enjoy the amazing event as well. As I was jumping up and down at the sheer joy of seeing this, he's recording vids and pics. I told him, you might never see this again. It took me 9 yrs. Super cool. It's one of the little surprises that keeps me in this beekeeping game. Hope they stay!

  8. #7
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    May 2013
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    Sherburne County MN USA
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    Default Re: A swarm moved in. Now what?

    Chips, my other hives are bringing in nectar and the supers are on. I'm thinking they should be good??

  9. #8
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    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: A swarm moved in. Now what?

    A swarmed mated queen cannot start laying right away. Don't know how long it takes for her to resume but I'm thinking three to four days. She had to stop laying and slim down to be able to fly and that took around three days. As far as the boxes, I would agree that two is probably too much room unless the the swarm was huge. BUT, the bees chose that box. I would not go changing things until they have brooded up. As easily as that swarm took up residence, that is how easily they can change their minds and leave. At this point they have very little invested in that location. Once they start up a brood nest and storing nectar, it is a different story.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Westmoreland county Pennsylvania
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    Default Re: A swarm moved in. Now what?

    They normally wouldn't swarm unless things were good. So you should be fine if you choose to be hands off. I just like to help them out. Sometimes they won't even take the feed but other swarms gobble it up

  11. #10
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    May 2013
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    Default Re: A swarm moved in. Now what?

    Thanks JW. I recall, now, reading about slimming down in the past. Thanks for bring that up. I will follow yr instructions.

  12. #11
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    Jun 2017
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    Westmoreland county Pennsylvania
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    Default Re: A swarm moved in. Now what?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    A swarmed mated queen cannot start laying right away. Don't know how long it takes for her to resume but I'm thinking three to four days. She had to stop laying and slim down to be able to fly and that took around three days. As far as the boxes, I would agree that two is probably too much room unless the the swarm was huge. BUT, the bees chose that box. I would not go changing things until they have brooded up. As easily as that swarm took up residence, that is how easily they can change their minds and leave. At this point they have very little invested in that location. Once they start up a brood nest and storing nectar, it is a different story.
    Yea two to four days I would like to see eggs. I've never caught a swarm in my yard in a ready made hive. Usually it's in a trap or out of a bush in which case I shake it or transfer the frames into a hive asap. Haven't had one move out yet

  13. #12
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    Jun 2017
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    Westmoreland county Pennsylvania
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    Default Re: A swarm moved in. Now what?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    A swarmed mated queen cannot start laying right away. Don't know how long it takes for her to resume but I'm thinking three to four days. She had to stop laying and slim down to be able to fly and that took around three days. As far as the boxes, I would agree that two is probably too much room unless the the swarm was huge. BUT, the bees chose that box. I would not go changing things until they have brooded up. As easily as that swarm took up residence, that is how easily they can change their minds and leave. At this point they have very little invested in that location. Once they start up a brood nest and storing nectar, it is a different story.
    Yea two to four days I would like to see eggs. I've never caught a swarm in my yard in a ready made hive. Usually it's in a trap or out of a bush in which case I shake it or transfer the frames into a hive asap. Haven't had one move out yet

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    Byron, Il, USA
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    270

    Default Re: A swarm moved in. Now what?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stella View Post
    It's gonna kill me to wait but I will. Thankfully I can watch from the entrance. Tonight a few were out orienting the front of the hive. My grown son was over when I heard the buzzing, amazing how loud it was! So he got to enjoy the amazing event as well. As I was jumping up and down at the sheer joy of seeing this, he's recording vids and pics. I told him, you might never see this again. It took me 9 yrs. Super cool. It's one of the little surprises that keeps me in this beekeeping game. Hope they stay!
    I am envious. I had one move into a box on my front porch a few weeks ago. I came home from work at 9 AM and the scouts were going nuts. I went to bed and slept all day. When I got up to go back to work they were almost all in the hive already. My wife saw the swarm but I missed it! Today is day 21. I am planning to wait at least another week before opening it. I want them undisturbed as much as possible. Seem Okay, very busy and lots of foragers working and pollen coming in. I lost my hives last year so this is now my only hive. Like you, waiting to look inside is driving me nuts!

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Tampa FL USA
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    344

    Default Re: A swarm moved in. Now what?

    Thomas Seeley from Cornell has done several studies that prove swarms prefer places that already have combs it gives them a leg up.

  16. #15
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    May 2013
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    Sherburne County MN USA
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    Default Re: A swarm moved in. Now what?

    Just thought I'd let you know that the swarm stayed that moved in on 6/18. Today I popped the top and took a peek. They have filled both boxes and it's packed with bees. In the top of the two boxes I pulled an end frame full of honey, the next frame in was capped brood. Third frame came out with a large chunk of capped brood comb hanging off of it into the bottom box. Apparently there are not 10 frames. I carefully put it back in place and closed them up. Now I'm wondering if there's even 9 frames in the bottom box. Time will tell. It's just too hot right now to wear a bee suit for very long. But anyway.. Got a third box on top and their going gangbusters! Woohoo! Thanks for the assistance!

  17. #16
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    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: A swarm moved in. Now what?

    Really happy for you. When the time comes, grab some empty frames and some big rubber bands and get that comb situation squared away. Your in it for the long haul now!
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  18. #17
    Join Date
    May 2013
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    Sherburne County MN USA
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    Default Re: A swarm moved in. Now what?

    Thanks JW! That will be another new experience that I'm looking forward to!

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