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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everybody. New here and just made an intro post in Introduction Forum.

A little background before my main question.....My wife (Sandy) and I started our colony with a 5-frame nuc in March. Italian bees. We transferred them to a Langstroth brood box (10 frame) on the first warm sunny day. Everything was going great. The colony grew rapidly, so fast that it swarmed 2 days after I added another brood box 6 weeks from purchase date. Nine days later was another swarm. OK, we are learning and think we know where we went wrong.

On to the question... Yesterday, 10 days after swarm 2, it looked like they were swarming again :eek:. I hurriedly set out my nuc box, added some lemongrass oil to it, in hopes of capturing this swarm. The tornado of bees grew but only went 10-15 feet in the air as opposed to the 30-40 feet with the 2 previous swarms. After perhaps 15 minutes the bee tornado subsided and they all went back to the colony . The colony was agitated for the remainder of the day. Everything seems back to normal today.

What could that have been? Was a swarm somehow stopped or is this some behavior that I haven't read about?

Thanks,
Kelly
 

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I am new too but I think it was just Orientation flights of Newly emerged bees. I had this happen yesterday.

Are you sure that your hive Swarmed 2 times? Were there Queen cells before they swarmed? And did you still have bees after they 'Swarmed?
I wonder if they too were orientation flights of newly emerged bees.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I am new too but I think it was just Orientation flights of Newly emerged bees. I had this happen yesterday.

Are you sure that your hive Swarmed 2 times? Were there Queen cells before they swarmed? And did you still have bees after they 'Swarmed?
I wonder if they too were orientation flights of newly emerged bees.
Thanks for the reply, Linda. Your suggestion of an orientation flight may be spot-on. I did some reading and it is certainly possible that is what I saw. It was a sunny day after 3 days of cold rain so they were probably taking advantage of the weather.

The two swarms I mentioned were definitely swarms since I saw the clusters form up in my oak trees. Unfortunately they were both too high to be able to capture.

We are learning a lot and having fun doing so.

Kelly
 

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KellyW:

Another possibility is a 'practice swarm'. In my experience, colonies preparing to swarm will often issue a practice swarm a day or two before taking off.

Are there swarm cells in your hive?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
KellyW:

Another possibility is a 'practice swarm'. In my experience, colonies preparing to swarm will often issue a practice swarm a day or two before taking off.

Are there swarm cells in your hive?

I inspected the boxes yesterday. There are no eggs or larva and only minimal capped brood cells remaining. Earlier inspections showed lots of all stages. We did see one capped swarm cell on a frame bottom. There was also a swarm cell where a queen had emerged. So please tell me if I'm wrong ... but it seems I have either an unmated queen from the empty cell or a queenless hive waiting on the queen to emerge from the capped cell.

Could the queen from the empty cell have taken a swarm and left the other one (still capped) to take over the colony?
 

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Swarms are loud and chaotic, it is a literal tornado of bees then they go cluster somewhere.

Early on I confused the daily orientation flights, which for me were almost always around 3pm like clockwork, for robbing. But the orientation flights are usually just a cloud around the entrance, with some bearding as bees come and go, but it usually is not super buzzy sounding like a swarm is. The bees just kind of circle around and land seemingly over and over.

My vote is on swarm, or possibly that strange "practice swarm" behavior, especially if you saw them cluster somewhere
 

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Could the queen from the empty cell have taken a swarm and left the other one (still capped) to take over the colony?
KellyW:

I apologize for my delay in reply. Conventional wisdom says that a swarm will leave a colony about the time that the first swarm cell is capped, though anecdotal observations suggest that there is some latitude on departure, particularly in the case of inclement weather.

That said, and based on what you described it is certainly possible you had another swarm issue. Given that you found a capped queen cell, you might wait a few days and check back in to see if it appears that this cell is now open or torn-down and whether you see a queen in residence.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Linda, I read your post. Sounds like your experience was similar to mine. However, your description was much more entertaining than mine :D

Litsinger, thanks for your replies. Since I don't feel proficient yet at finding queens, my plan is to wait about 2 weeks then go in and look at the swarm cell and for eggs. Hopefully I'll see eggs and an empty cell. Does this sound logical?
 

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Does this sound logical?
KellyW:

Your plan does sound completely logical- the only thing I might question is the timing. If you found a capped queen cell I might be tempted to take a careful look about a week after to see what I might find.

Specifically, a cell is typically capped +/- 8 days after laid and the queen will emerge +/-16 days, or +/- 8 days after being capped.

Here is a great write-up by Mr. Michael Bush concerning 'Bee Math'. I refer to this one all the time:

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmath.htm

Depending on what you see a week or so after you first saw the capped queen cell might yield some good clues as to what you might want to do next.

Good luck with this- have you thought about adding a second colony for 'insurance'?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
KellyW:

Your plan does sound completely logical- the only thing I might question is the timing. If you found a capped queen cell I might be tempted to take a careful look about a week after to see what I might find.

Specifically, a cell is typically capped +/- 8 days after laid and the queen will emerge +/-16 days, or +/- 8 days after being capped.

Here is a great write-up by Mr. Michael Bush concerning 'Bee Math'. I refer to this one all the time:

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmath.htm

Depending on what you see a week or so after you first saw the capped queen cell might yield some good clues as to what you might want to do next.

Good luck with this- have you thought about adding a second colony for 'insurance'?
Thank you, Russ. Your suggestions and the link are a great help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Good luck with this- have you thought about adding a second colony for 'insurance'?

Russ, I just realized I didn't reply to this part.
I have considered a second colony and I have the room. At this stage I prefer to make my mistakes (er, learning opportunities) with one colony. Also, since I am new to the hobby I'm using new foundation except for the 5 frames that came in the nuc. I would like to get more frames drawn out (that could be used in another colony) before getting a second colony going so the new colony didn't have to build so much comb.
 

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Russ, I just realized I didn't reply to this part.
No worries at all, KellyW.

When I off-offhandedly mentioned 'insurance' I was thinking of your situation where you were not sure if your colony was queenright or not.

One easy 'insurance policy' is to take a frame of open brood from another colony with freshly-laid eggs and put it into a colony that you suspect might be queenless.

In so doing, the bees will tell you by their response whether they consider themselves queenless or not. Specifically, if they are queenless, they will likely take advantage of the fresh eggs and create emergency queen cells. If they are queenright, they will simply tend to the brood normally.

This is a situation (among others) where having a second colony offers some backup in the case of colony troubles.

Keep plugging-away- you're doing great!

Russ
 
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