I started my 3# package in an 8 frame medium, on 5.1 mm dadant foundation. They are Italian's. 6 days later they swarmed. Comb was drawn on about half of 5 frames. They landed in a pile on the ground in tall grass in the field. I tried picking them up etc... finally I smoked them and the queen came walking up a blade of grass. Let her walk onto my hand, and stuck her in a second "new" 8 frame medium, and they all followed her home. Seems to be doing well 5 days later.
It was something I havent experienced and wasnt expecting. It went on for about an hour before I fooled with them. Luckily I had another medium ready, and I know my wife was wanting it out of the kitchen anyways.
Most of the feral bees around here behave as if they are AHB. Every swarm I've tried to hive in the past eight to ten years, abscond almost immediately after I get them into the hive. A few years ago, before I began importing queen stock from elsewhere, then raising my own queens from those mother queens; would behave similarly. A good example is when I attempted a split; I took half of the bees, brood, pollen, and honey and placed them in their own location, the next morning they had absconded, leaving the brood (lots of it open) and pollen, but taking the honey with them. They had not returned to their parent colony, but were gone to parts unknown. What motivates them to do this? I can only guess that they have their reasons for obsconding, but other than something that would be obvious to us, like unhabitable conditions in the new location/hive, it is difficult to know what the bee's reasons are.
After doing some more light reading, I dont think that is what it is. This hive is Italian, from a well known local breeder. No AFB even recorded in this state. And not all the bees left, 1/2 to 3/4 was still inside working, and some were still coming and going. I really feel as if they felt the hive was two small, and swarmed to find a new one. Everything I could really come up with on them absconding was the all leave. I'm just not really sure what happened to be honest. That was totaly new to me. I was planting fruit trees when I saw it, and since (from what I gather) when abscounding they dont carry supplies with them. Well, I opened the hive scooped them off the ground with my hand, smoked them, checked the frames etc.. with only shorts on. No shirt, no veil, no shoes etc.. They were as gentle as could be. Hell even my dog was sniffing the cluster on the ground with no problems. (he's a ukc bluetick, has to sniff everything) I really feel like it was some sort of premature swarm?
Your bees are on 100% foundation so keep them in the single MDS and feed them all the 2:1 sugar syrup that they can consume. They have a lot of work to do drwaing out all those frames and building up their population.
Also, since you are starting them on foundation, a queen excluder in between the hive body and the bottom board will help keep them from absconding. Just make sure to pull it out once they get established.
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