Bees Returning to Nuc Boxes
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
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    BC, Canada
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    Default Bees Returning to Nuc Boxes

    Greetings - first time posting on the forum. Yesterday, bees from our two hives somehow found the old nuc boxes (containing some old frames), kept about 30 metres away in a shed. There has been no activity around those boxes up to this point. Now a good number of bees are buzzing around those boxes. We are wondering how to proceed. We’ve brought the nuc boxes with bees in them out for night to rest beside the hives in hopes of them reintegrating into the main hives. Any advice is appreciated, thanks in advance.
    Gordon

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    ElDorado,Arkansas,USA
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    Default Re: Bees Returning to Nuc Boxes

    Did you look to see if by chance a swarm moved in.A good number of bees coming in and staying for the night sounds like a swarm moved in.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
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    BC, Canada
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    Default Re: Bees Returning to Nuc Boxes

    Thanks for the reply. I’m still quite new to beekeeping and am not aware of how to evaluate whether it is a swarm or an offshoot of one of the hives. In the case of it being a swarm, will placing the newly occupied nuc boxes near to the hives be a problem?

  5. #4
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    Apr 2011
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    ElDorado,Arkansas,USA
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    Default Re: Bees Returning to Nuc Boxes

    Leave them alone a few days and if they are still there it would be a swarm.Then just close them up at dark when everyone is inside and move to your preferred location.Being warm weather if any are hanging outside just give a little puff of smoke and they all will go inside for you. After you move them remove whatever you closed them off with and just throw a few lose leaves,grass,a limb with pine needles or what ever at the entrance to make them reorient the next morning.And feed them some syrup and let them go to work.Oh and if you dont have frames in those boxes get some in there quick or you will have comb every where you dont want it.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    England, UK
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    Default Re: Bees Returning to Nuc Boxes

    Could be a late swarm - either one which has already taken place, or scouts checking-out a potential new home for one which is about to occur.

    Or - it could simply be the behaviour of forager-scouts checking-out anything which smells of bees in the hope of finding something of value at this time of the year to take back to their hive.

    If you keep your eye on those boxes for the next few days without disturbing them, hopefully the exact situation will become clearer ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Geauga, Ohio
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    431

    Default Re: Bees Returning to Nuc Boxes

    I have found that bees which are robbing will be in the "robbed" location very early, and very late in the day. If those bees are from your colonies and robbing, at daybreak you should see traffic from your colonies to the nuc boxes.

    If those bees are robbing, they will figure out in a day or so (or empty out in a day or so) that the shop is now empty. I would advise that from now on, close up anything that has drawn brood comb, or honey, so that it is bee-tight. This bee-robbing or bee-exploratory behavior is annoying, for me and especially the rest of the family. I actually keep my empty boxes and comb in the apiary - just in a bee-tight box, with a box that has a nailed-on plywood base. No slotted inner cover.

    Foragers returning to their home will be bringing nectar... and water.... and pollen! That's pretty visible. From the side (not the flight path) watch for awhile, especially in the first hour or hour and a half after the bees start foraging. Mine bring pollen first thing in the morning and in the evening when it is hot, and not an all day nectar flow - which is after May. ;/. So watch and see, that should clear things up.

    If a swarm moved in, then be aware that they have "locked on" to that location. If you just move them, the foragers will ball up in that location and be a hazard. That mass of bees can be dangerous for a human (more than a fist-sized clumb) and definitely dangerous for pets. They are stressed and homeless and do not behave like foraging bees.

    So if you just move them, the foragers go back "home". Eventually they can disperse, like over a week. They will randomly search by smell for hives. Some will be lost.

    An alternative is to move them a couple of feet or less a day. I placed a piece of cardboard in front of the hive - like as a "welcome mat" to keep grass down. But when I moved the hive a couple feet, and the welcome mat, the foragers locked on to the new location right away. You can add a visual signal like that too.

    Now then, it is helpful if the OP adds location to their profile. If WINTER is coming (many months no forage, frost date before Oct 15), then this swarm has no chance. if you can find a more experienced beek to help, try to combine it with your existing colonies. If Winter is coming (I am in NE OH, and avg first frost is Oct 15, crappy weather starts sometime in Sept with returns to ok foraging sporadically), there is just barely time for brood to be laid in the drawn combs. You might get 5 more combs drawn out, but you won't get 15 drawn out for a double deep. you'll need to feed like 2 gallons of 2:1 sugar syrup A WEEK. And feed pollen when weather won't permit foraging.

    Good luck, hope it's just robbing and this is a relatively painless lesson in keeping stuff bee-tight so you aren't bothered by bees in the future (where you don't want them).

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Grand Rapids MI USA
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    Default Re: Bees Returning to Nuc Boxes

    Methinks you should give your location Gordon, as your giving measurements in meters. It’s springtime in Australia so it wouldn’t be out of the realm for a swarm to light in your old. equipment.
    Rod

  9. #8
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    Apr 2006
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    Pepperell, MA.
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    Default Re: Bees Returning to Nuc Boxes

    I'm guessing a swarm or at least scouts thinking about moving in.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  10. #9
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    May 2014
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    Sedgwick Co. KS
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    Default Re: Bees Returning to Nuc Boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by rwlaw View Post
    Methinks you should give your location Gordon, as your giving measurements in meters. It’s springtime in Australia so it wouldn’t be out of the realm for a swarm to light in your old. equipment.

  11. #10
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    Sep 2018
    Location
    Jacksonville Fl
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    16

    Default

    Are the bees closely inspecting the old nucs from every angle or do they seem to go straight for the entrance?

    These are most likely scouts, but their behavior around the box will help you determine if the bees are prepping to swarm or have already moved in.

    I would also check your active hives for queen cells 🤙

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
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    BC, Canada
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    3

    Default Re: Bees Returning to Nuc Boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by rwlaw View Post
    Methinks you should give your location Gordon, as your giving measurements in meters. It’s springtime in Australia so it wouldn’t be out of the realm for a swarm to light in your old. equipment.
    We are located in central British Columbia, Canada; we are near to Sorrento, in the Shuswaps.
    The active cells appear to be tightly grouped to queen cells. Sure enough this morning bees linger around the shed where the nuc boxes were contained, though the moved nuc boxes remain busy.
    In the end, is this a bad thing, could it even be advantageous? Please don't mind what might seem like simple questions; the help is much appreciated!

  13. #12
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    May 2009
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    Grand Rapids MI USA
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    Default Re: Bees Returning to Nuc Boxes

    Well, it sounds like you’ve got a swarm to me, let em go for a week or so to make sure the queen is laying so they won’t abscond so easy. Above advice is good for feeding etc.
    Rod

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Campbell River, BC, CA
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    Default Re: Bees Returning to Nuc Boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by GGNickel View Post
    We are located in central British Columbia, Canada; we are near to Sorrento, in the Shuswaps.
    The active cells appear to be tightly grouped to queen cells. Sure enough this morning bees linger around the shed where the nuc boxes were contained, though the moved nuc boxes remain busy.
    In the end, is this a bad thing, could it even be advantageous? Please don't mind what might seem like simple questions; the help is much appreciated!
    A swarm in central BC at this time of year is dead, they just dont know it yet unless they are placed on drawn comb and fed copious amounts of syrup and pollen as there is precious little time left for them to raise winter bees if starting from scratch. If there are queen cells, it's likely any queens produced will not get well mated. Our colonies were kicking out the drones last week, I would expect the same in your area. If you have cells now, then in a couple weeks there will be a minimal drone population for them to get mated. Our experience with colonies replacing queens this late in the season, they rarely fare well in the spring.

    It is FAR more likely what you are seeing is robbing. Flows are tapering off if they have not already stopped completely in that area. Bees will go after anything sweet, and a deadout box with honey in the frames is a really easy target for them. When the easy pickings are done, the stronger colonies will start to attack any weak colonies in the area.

  15. #14
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    Apr 2011
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    ElDorado,Arkansas,USA
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    Default Re: Bees Returning to Nuc Boxes

    Well there is the reason everyone needs to put n where they live.My advise just wont work in Canada.If you were in the south like I am it would work but there is a great difference in south Arkansas and Canada!!!

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
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    Default Re: Bees Returning to Nuc Boxes

    Late in the evening, before sunset, pop the top off the nuc and take a look. You'll have your answer one way or another. If it's just robber bees you will know when you look inside. If a swarm moved in it will be obvious. Grozzie2 is right, this late in the season a late swarm is probably doomed where you are so you have nothing to lose by taking a look inside.

    When you confirm what you have, check back and let everyone know.
    To everything there is a season....

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Campbell River, BC, CA
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    1,637

    Default Re: Bees Returning to Nuc Boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by snapper1d View Post
    Well there is the reason everyone needs to put n where they live.My advise just wont work in Canada.If you were in the south like I am it would work but there is a great difference in south Arkansas and Canada!!!
    I normally dont even reply for questions from folks that have not stated the location in the profile so it shows in the posts in the top right corner. The only reason I did this time is because in a subsequent post it's mentioned they are in my general area, and the advice given till that point may be well applicable in other areas, it's not in the bc interior.

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