Lost bees after transferring captured swarm
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  1. #1

    Default Lost bees after transferring captured swarm

    I am a first year beekeeper and I have been capturing a lot of swarms on my property. I try to transfer them from the trap to a hive box within hours of the swarm settling in so they don't build comb in the flower pot style traps. Since I am putting them in a box on the same 10 acre property, some of the bees inevitably go back to the original trap location. When this happens I leave the trap down and hope the bees will go away after a while. The last couple of swarms I trapped have had small patches of bees hanging out in the trap location for two weeks now. If I put the trap back up will these bees defend it or welcome scouts from another swarm?

    Thanks

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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    Default Re: Lost bees after transferring captured swarm

    Not familiar with the flower pot traps but one reason people use full hive boxes is so they can let them settle in. Most do not re-hive a swarm until they start bringing in pollen. I think your problem is that you are re-hiving them too soon, but if you must do this, take a frame of brood from one of your hives and place it in the new swarm hive. It may help to lock them in. J

  4. #3

    Default Re: Lost bees after transferring captured swarm

    I guess I should clarify. I am not losing the entire swarm, just some of the foragers that return to the location of the trap. Since I am both capturing the swarms and setting them up on my property they are not going far enough to reorient. Regardless of how long I leave them in the trap at the original location some of them will return there after being moved.

    My question is about the bees that return to the trap location. If I put the trap back up and the "lost bees" go in the trap, will they ward off new scouts looking at the trap? Sometimes i will have a little patch of bees that refuses to leave the location of the trap and they seem to get more mean every day.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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    Default Re: Lost bees after transferring captured swarm

    Sorry I misunderstood your question. You could try a couple things. Get them to re-orient to the new location by putting up branches in front of the hive making it difficult to fly out easily. You could try putting the trap back late afternoon/dusk ( after the swarm was re-hived) and gather up the trap at night with the stragglers and put it face to face with the entrance of the hive at the new location. Might have to do this for a few days to get most of them. I do not know if stragglers will defend, but I doubt it, because there is nothing to defend. They are mean because they are demoralized trying to survive in the elements without their queen and colony. J

  6. #5

    Default Re: Lost bees after transferring captured swarm

    I think I may have answered my own question. Despite there being 25 or so angry bees from the prior swarm lingering on the tree, I decided to hang the trap back up. A new swarm moved in after two days and the bees from the first swarm were indifferent.
    2019-06-24 20.34.35.jpg

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Boaz, KY, USA
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    976

    Default Re: Lost bees after transferring captured swarm

    Quote Originally Posted by dd33 View Post
    I think I may have answered my own question. Despite there being 25 or so angry bees from the prior swarm lingering on the tree, I decided to hang the trap back up. A new swarm moved in after two days and the bees from the first swarm were indifferent.
    2019-06-24 20.34.35.jpg
    Good feedback, DD.

    Given that I didn't know, I had no answer for you- but I am glad you were afforded the opportunity to see what would happen!

    Good luck to you the rest of this year.

    Russ

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Greenville, NC, USA
    Posts
    163

    Default Re: Lost bees after transferring captured swarm

    Try smoking the trap and the spot where the trap hung... heavy smoke will kill the scent of the last swarm. As suggested, put branches in front of the entrance to make them re-orient. Something thick like cedar.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
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    2,282

    Default Re: Lost bees after transferring captured swarm

    Were the bees from the old swarm or just bees from the next swarm?
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Kirksville, Missouri USA
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    1,753

    Default Re: Lost bees after transferring captured swarm

    Now you have another to move. I basically have done the same thing, capturing a swarm on my place and then move it. I take down the swarm trap and keep it on the ground for a couple days, then start moving it 5 to 10 feet a day towards the location I want, if it's not too far away. They easily find the hive 10 ft away, maybe more depending on the terrain etc. 100 ft would take a couple weeks. If that doesn't work, they could be moved a few miles away for a few weeks, then back to the location you want. You would have to screen them all in the night before you move to keep most of the foragers. I read often the suggestion of moving the hive in the dark, to a nearby location, then cover the entrance with sticks, a chunk of plywood, or whatever, so that when they come out of the hive in the new location and find the exit has changed dramatically, they will re orient. I have found limited success with that one.

    If you intend to remove the swarm colony from the trap into a regular hive body, do it under it's trap location and leave the new box under that location for them to find the hive in the new box.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    West Bath, Maine, United States
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    Default Re: Lost bees after transferring captured swarm

    Quote Originally Posted by DanielD View Post
    I have found limited success with that one.
    Me too. Pine seems to work best, though best is so-so.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  12. #11

    Default Re: Lost bees after transferring captured swarm

    Missed a few posts here.
    Murdock, even when I smoke the old location some of the bees still return. Not many but enough to notice. When I move them to their hive stand I do block the entrance with 5 or so Palmetto fronds which I remove slowly over the course of a week or so.

    SaltyBee, there were bees from the old swarm on the tree hiding out in the cracks in the bark. Sometimes one would fly up and into the trap but they preferred to stay outside. The swarm in the photo is a new one, the stragglers did not scare the scouts off.

    DanielD, I have done the small moves each day successfully over short distances but I am on 10 acres so it would take too long if I catch a swarm on the far end of the property. in the last 3 months I have caught around 15 swarms at home. I've tried a number of combinations.

    1. Put bees in a box at the base of the tree under the trap. This worked great for getting the bees that want to go back to the trap into the new box but then you have to move the hive again at some point. (I don't have a second yard)

    2. Close the bees up in the trap for 1-3 days and move it. This one failed miserably for me. Even though the swarm was in a double deep nuc in the shade under a big oak tree, the entrance disk was set to ventilation holes and the lid was propped up with a washer at least half of the bees died in the box.

    3. Move the bees to their final location as fast as possible. Put a queen excluder between the bottom board and the brood box and block the entrance with palm fronds. Spray them and the new frames with 1:1 sugar water the transfer to new box. The following day put the trap back up in the old location before dusk to catch stragglers. After they have settled in for the night, take the trap down and put it on top of the new box. Do this for one or two days then smoke the old location and leave the trap down for a week or so.
    This is my current method and it has been working ok. A few times there have been some bees that remained and i wasn't sure how they would react to new scouts, that was the reason for my original post.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Kirksville, Missouri USA
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    1,753

    Default Re: Lost bees after transferring captured swarm

    dd33, on your #2, I was trying to write that if you were transferring the swarm caught to a hive body, that's where to do it. Then start moving it after a day or two. I wouldn't put the trap back up there until it's moved away some. Even then some foragers might return to the location out of 'memory'.

    OK, it sounds like we got off track from your post. I wouldn't know. If I were concerned, I wouldn't have a problem disposing of the bees that are camped out there. They won't get anywhere anyway. Or you could box them up and drive a few miles and let them go. They may wander around and find a local hive. I once dumped out a laying worker hive and some nurse bees, very few, camped out on a plow blade nearby for quite a while.

  14. #13

    Default Re: Lost bees after transferring captured swarm

    Had the same thing happen at my house with swarm this year. Only moved them a short distance across the yard in the evening. I just left the lid to my trap on a ladder with the SC/lemongrass oil bait bag on it and about an hour or so later, leaned it against the hive. They marched in no problem.

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