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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've probably got involved in under 20 swarms, so I haven't got loads of experience, and observed two odd swarms this season that were almost identical but confused me a bit. I'd like to know what you think:

One turned up in a trap at the start of the swarm season, one I got called to just yesterday - getting toward the end of our season.
They had some things in common. They were very small and cast-like.
Neither had any sign of a queen, old or virgin.
I offered yesterday's lot (who were still clustered) a frame of eggs. Every other time I've done this in awkward spots the bees charge onto the comb. These bees became very excited and started to fan at full power, but made no move for the egg comb.
The main and final peculiarity that puzzled me - not a single drone. All my colonies have very large drone populations still, although I did observe a drone being stung inside one hive this week.
Yesterday's little cluster was about 300 yards from the nearest known hives, with no line of sight because of the terrain and some buildings. Every single other swarm I've met so far has clustered up within 20 yards of home.

So,
-in season
-very small
-queenless
-droneless
-not attracted to eggs

What's going on? Fragmented swarm, weird absconders? Or does this sound quite normal after all?
 

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Just assume these are post-swarms with unmated/poorly mated young queen and call it that and then verify if true.

I'd join them together; give a test sample (a sample of eggs/young larvae) and close and be done for 2-3 days.
I would not even waste a whole frame for this, but just a smallish comb cut (as they are too small to even care for a whole, big frame).

In 2-3-4 days check and see the status (emergency cell presence; and the queen presence to) and see about the next move.

It does not matter what it is now and what they behave like and how your perceive them - all of these could be misleading.

Instead focus on how to bring some certainty and how to make one viable colony out of these two uncertain things (or use them in some other way).
A test sample should bring in some certainty.

PS: actually I have one such case and need to check back and see what they are now - two medium swarms with very uncertain queen status in both - I did exactly what I outlined above.
 

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What's going on? Fragmented swarm, weird absconders? Or does this sound quite normal after all?

so I had a couple like this and after much pondering, I came to the conclusion it was a split swarm OR a pollinator loaded his hives at dusk or dawn and any bees let at the site gathers and "created" a group, they then found a home. so a group of bees who have banded together. I thought they had a virgin and I left them bee, in time they went laying worker.

So if a look at the small group does not show a queen just add them to another smallish hive.

IMO it is man made somehow.

GG
 

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PS: actually I have one such case and need to check back and see what they are now - two medium swarms with very uncertain queen status in both - I did exactly what I outlined above.
Checked them tonight.
My test sample confirmed they think they are "queen-right".
However, whatever that "queen" (or the "queens") is - not good at their job.
I was not able to find that "queen" creature.
It maybe I will let the combined swarm (pretty strong now) just forage until they die off and keep the proceeds - they are free bees after all.

OR maybe that "queen" will still improve after the shock therapy - a complete shake out and all their worthless brood taken away (pretty much just drones).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
IMO it is man made somehow.
Now I'm glad I asked, because this is a really interesting idea I hadn't considered. As it happens, I'm fairly sure a very nearby beekeeper moved some hives away recently. The timing seems odd, since it was weeks ago, but I wonder if the two are connected somehow. Maybe it would make sense that these were entirely stranded foragers if they were were shut out after drone flying hours.
3 days later and a few of the bees are still going back to the cluster spot.

The early group got a test frame and were definitely queenless then failed to raise one successfully, they're on their last try now. I intend to combine them.

I had a similar situation Greg. A small swarm that seemed to lose their queen. I gave them eggs and they started a couple of queen cells, but almost immediately chewed the walls out then tore them down.
Then I started to see patchy, multiple-egg laying and thought they were doomed. Weeks later, I opened them, no eggs, no eggs, a bit of capped drone brood... Then a full comb of wall to wall worker brood and a big queen running around. I don't know what happened in there, but they fixed it this time.
 

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I had a similar situation Greg. A small swarm that seemed to lose their queen. I gave them eggs and they started a couple of queen cells, but almost immediately chewed the walls out then tore them down.
Then I started to see patchy, multiple-egg laying and thought they were doomed. Weeks later, I opened them, no eggs, no eggs, a bit of capped drone brood... Then a full comb of wall to wall worker brood and a big queen running around. I don't know what happened in there, but they fixed it this time.
Yes, I red testimonials of young queens doing all kinds of crazy things before coming to their senses.
Fingers crossed this is one of such cases that I got.
 
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