Swarm box transfer to hive
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Kansas
    Posts
    2

    Question Swarm box transfer to hive

    Hi all. New keeper here in Kansas! I just moved my brand new bees!!! from the swarm trap to hive today and ran into an unexpected issue. So, the (short) backstory... I live in Kansas and am very interested in bees (fascinating creatures) and all they do for us. This spring I set out 4 swarm traps and 1 of them managed to collect a swarm. I'm very excited! I slowly worked the trap down the tree 3 feet at a time to ground level. Today, finally moved them into the Langstroth hive I built. I was surprised to find they had built comb connecting the frames in the swarm trap (almost zig-zag) from one to the other. The move went fine (all frames moved and bees followed, many larvae noted, queen found and successfully moved, all looked good), but in moving them, much of the comb had to be "torn" using the hive tool to separate frames. I did build the hive and frames myself, but followed plans to a T. Did they build comb that connected frames because I did not have the comb starter/base in place (I just placed empty frames assuming bees know how to build comb without a starter), were my frames incorrect possibly, or is this normal to see in some cases. None of my books mention this and not sure if its normal or not, or if my bees just didn't read the copy of the book I left for them . Several large chunks of comb fell off when I was moving them because of this, so I placed them loosely into the frames close to where they were originally hanging assuming the bees will reconnect them to the frame and continue using them. Is this okay? And also, should I replace these frames with ones that have comb starter in them to prevent this in the future? Sorry for all the questions, just want to make sure I'm doing this right.

    Last question: My other swarm traps had a LOT of ants in them. Will ants prevent bees from making a home there and any suggestions to prevent this? or do I just need to check them regularly and clean as needed?

    Thank you for any help you can provide.

    Matt

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    3,408

    Default Re: Swarm box transfer to hive

    Hi Matt and welcome to Beesource. The bees will build wonky comb even with nice waxed starter strips in place. Since these are your first bees, you would not have straight drawn comb to help guide them. So, you do have a little work to do. First, go to your local office supply store and get a bag of #64 rubber bands. You will use these to secure the relatively straight comb section back into the frames. You will also need a long sharp knife. The process involves removing some of the frames and gently separating the comb as it connects to the multiple top bars. Place the removed sections as flat as you can within a new frame and secure with the rubber bands wrapped around the frame top to bottom. Comb must be installed the same way it was removed. There is a top and a bottom. Only do some of the frames and then place a new frame with a starter strip in between each recovered frame. Give the bees time to both attach the salvaged comb to the frames and start drawing out the new frames. Once you get eggs and brood in the staight comb, you can go back in and fix the remaining frames. Try to make sure that all brood comb is utilized and know where your queen is. If she is on the comb you are working, gently encourage her to move to the frames you are not messing with. Overall, it is not hard, just time consuming and the bees will not be happy.

    The bees will not mind a few ants, but if the swarm trap is overrun, my experience is that they will find a different home.

    PS, I updated your profile to show Kansas as your location.
    Last edited by JWPalmer; 07-09-2019 at 06:29 PM.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Kansas
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Swarm box transfer to hive

    Thanks for the advice. So, new problem. I'm not sure how to make the bees STAY! I went out this morning to do what you suggested and the bees abandoned the hive. I'm assuming because of the destruction of their comb. Luckily I found them swarmed on a branch near by. I took that opportunity to fix the comb as you suggested before putting the bees back in and it looked pretty good when I was done. Brushed the bees back into the hive and had to leave for part of the day, but before I left all the bees except a few had gone into the hive. Came back and they were gone again. Found the swarm again on a different tree. This time I cut the limb and put the limb and all the bees into the swarm trap I originally caught them in in case they don't like the hive for some reason. I have a mesh covering the entrance of the swarm trap to keep them there for now, but there is no comb or food in there for them at the moment. I sprayed some 1:1 sugar water into the entrance for a little sustenance, but what do I do now? I did a lot of reading on swarm traps and other, but not much on actively catching a swarm as I did not expect to be doing that. Suggestions? Thanks.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    3,408

    Default Re: Swarm box transfer to hive

    I have to assume at this point that all the normal transfer protocols were followed. To help get a swarm to stay put, go to your local drug store and buy some lemongrass essential oil if you do not already have some and add one drop to the new hive. Give it that "this is home" smell. Second, place the queen excluder between the hive body and the bottom board. The queen may have fattened up enough to not be able to slip through. A sure fire way to keep em in is to screen off the opening with #8 hardware cloth for a few days. Give them a chance to get settled again.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

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