Any and all advice wanted on collecting a nested swarm
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Stayton, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Any and all advice wanted on collecting a nested swarm

    There is a swarm which nested in a Hawthorn which I'd like to capture. Hawthorns are twiggy and thorny, and there is a fair amount of comb built which encompasses several crossing and intersecting twigs/branches.

    I have, both, an empty top bar and an empty Langstroth hive. I'd ultimately prefer to end up in the top bar, but would be quite satisfied either way. Both hives have once had bees in them several years back.

    Untangling their comb from the twigs appears to be effectively impossible. The height of the comb (length from top to bottom) is greater than either of the hives I have. If I just clipped it out of the tree, I could certainly fit the mess in the top bar hive if I laid it down, but that would put all their comb approx 90-degrees out of alignment.

    I thought about just doing so and locking them into the hive (and feeding them) for an extended period so they could break down and rebuild their home in their new arrangements, but since I'm a complete noob, I'm coming here to ask for the benefit of your experience before doing something foolish.

    BTW, I'm in the Pacific NW in Zone 8b, and it's just getting into summer. Daytimes are fluctuating between the high 70's and high 80's, and within the next couple weeks we'll probably be well into the 90's (maybe a couple days getting into triple digits). It sounds like these bees have been in this tree for at least a month or so. How long do you expect I have to collect them?
    Is it an "now, every day counts" situation? Or am I fine on timing as long as I get to them before the Autumn rains set in?

    Thanks-a-bunch!!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Enfield,Ct.
    Posts
    572

    Default Re: Any and all advice wanted on collecting a nested swarm

    Depends on how much effort you want to put into this.
    You could vacuum all the bees and treat it like a swarm or if the tree is expendable you could clip away and trim twigs flush to the comb.

    As a retired arborist,I have pruned many thorny plants.
    Starting with hand snips,cut your way in,thorns first,then twigs,then larger cuts.Clip with one hand,collect with the other and put in a trash can.Why handle things twice.

    I make"string" frames for cutouts like this.
    Take kite string,staple to top bar corner,down at an angle to bottom bar and staple,and zig zag across frame.
    Lay on flat surface with string down,cut comb to fit,maintain orientation and secure with narrow rubber bands.I generally only save larger chunks of brood and sealed honey but do what you like.
    Eventually the bees chew the rubber bands and string out ,
    fill in the gaps and somewhat attach the comb to the frame,but the comb is ugly so I cycle it out as soon as practicable.
    Adapting to top bar could be done if you had frames with angled sides.

    The sooner you do this the sooner the bees will adapt to the hive.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    2,704

    Default Re: Any and all advice wanted on collecting a nested swarm

    I have ....... an empty Langstroth hive.
    I assume you have at least 2 boxes (more is better).

    I would simply cut all the mess the best I could and drop it ALL into the bottom box.
    AS IS.
    With embedded branches and all.
    Cut the entire mess as a single unit (the best) OR 2-3 smaller units if must.
    But I would not fidget with the micro-surgery - not worth the time and frustration and associated risks.
    Don't bother fixing it - you will only create more mess and risk damaging the queen.

    All you want - fit the mess into a box somehow - mostly intact so to preserve the current nest mostly undisturbed.
    Fill up the box with branches/combs/bees - done.

    Now - install a normal box with frames above the mess.
    Be best to have some frames with ready combs, especially old and used, even crappy, combs (at least some foundation) so the bees could immediately could latch onto.
    The idea is to gradually pull the bees from the mess into the manageable frames.

    Now - force ALL the bee traffic through the top box - create an upper entrance to do this.
    Ensure the bottom box to NOT have any entrances or ventilation - ALL traffic/ventilation should go through the top box.

    Eventually, your bees should pull up and the queen should settle in the upper box (closer to the entrance).
    Eventually (by adding more boxes in between) you can largely separate the active nest above from the mess below.
    When no more brood left in the mess (inspect best you can) - just clean the wood out - gradually cut/crush the combs as needed (preserve what can for reuse).
    The bees will cleanup and move all the spilled honey upwards.

    I'd give this project 1-2 months to complete.
    So be patient - no need to rush since you already got the bees in the hive - they could just stay as is already, with the branches (your frames are not necessary, but only a convenience for you).

    PS: you could modify this idea for the TBH too - drop the mess into the most remote end of the trove - force the traffic/ventilation through the opposing end - entice the bees into some bars by attaching existing combs onto them - the same gradual pull, just horizontally - your choice
    Last edited by GregV; 07-23-2019 at 08:51 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Stayton, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Any and all advice wanted on collecting a nested swarm

    Thank you for the well rounded advice. It is deeply appreciated.

    I only have one box for my langstroth.
    Both hives have some old remnants of comb in them.

    I think I'll go the "cut the mess and drop it all in the bottom" route with the TBH.

    Once I do so, am I correct in thinking that I need to screen/lock them into the hive for a bit to force them to "home" there?
    Or is it ok to let them go in and out at will?
    If I should lock them in, for how long?

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    2,704

    Default Re: Any and all advice wanted on collecting a nested swarm

    Quote Originally Posted by mOrloff View Post
    Thank you for the well rounded advice. It is deeply appreciated.

    I only have one box for my langstroth.
    Both hives have some old remnants of comb in them.

    I think I'll go the "cut the mess and drop it all in the bottom" route with the TBH.

    Once I do so, am I correct in thinking that I need to screen/lock them into the hive for a bit to force them to "home" there?
    Or is it ok to let them go in and out at will?
    If I should lock them in, for how long?
    No need to lock - let them go freely in and out.
    Just set you TBH right next to the bush for few days.
    They will not abandon their queen and the brood and will resettle into you TBH.
    In few days you regroup.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Stayton, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Any and all advice wanted on collecting a nested swarm

    Thanks-a-bunch!

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