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Another new beek needs some advice re: hiving a swarm

1216 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  jimsteelejr
I just acquired two hives last Saturday. Both hives are very well established, both have two deeps and 1 medium (10 frame langs). I didn't inspect them on Saturday because they were cranky from being moved. My plan was to inspect them this weekend.

Well, today at 2pm my friend called me to tell me that there was a swarm near my hives. I jumped in the car and hightailed it over there, and luckily got there before the swarm left. It was a really nice, big ball of bees...probably bigger than a football. And hanging oh-so-nicely off a branch about 12" off the ground. I had a couple empty top bar hives at the site, so I moved the hive below the swarm, cut the branch from the tree, and laid the whole mass into the hive. We closed the hive, waited a while, then moved it about 30' to where we wanted the hive to be. The bees were super mellow and nice to work with.

After we got the bees settled in the hive, I noticed an after swarm in the same tree that we found the swarm. It was quite a bit smaller, and the bees were clustered tightly together. We snipped off the branch and put them into the hive, too. Probably a mistake, in retrospect. If there was another queen in this after swarm, will the swarm queen kill her? Or might the after swarm swarm again?

I had planned to inspect the original lang hive where I suspect these bees came from, but the wind picked up and it was gusting 30. That will have to wait until I get back out there on Saturday. I suspect that I will find a bunch of old swarm cells.

I did observe some, not many bees, coming in/out of the original lang hive. I also picked it up a bit to test it's weight, and there are definitely still bees in there. I could hear them, too.

Now I'm worried that I messed up---- that I should have simply shaken the swarm into the top bar hive. And I'm concerned that leaving the branch in the hive is going to create a big mess (comb building in/on/around the branch). My thought was to remove the branch in a couple of days, when the bees had left it and gotten settled in the new hive. I did pull the branch to the very back of the hive, so the bees have room to work on the bars at the front of the hive. I would appreciate some advice as to how to proceed.

I should also say that I know I probably messed this up, but these are my very first hives (managed for less than three days,) and I'm just proud that I was able to get the bees back in some kind of shelter! I realize they might not stay, but boy, what a great experience! I did have a nice bar of comb which I left in the hive. Maybe that might entice them to stay. I also made some syrup for them.

Also, once in the top bar hive for an hour or so, the bees were super calm and there was virtually no coming/going. Is this normal? I'm certain I got the queen.....but I was expecting more bees to be nasinoving (sp?) at the entrance.

Thank you thank you thank you
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I would not worry about the branch for a few days. The main thing is you want the swarm to stay so minimize disturbing them for a week or so. Did you have some drawn out comb in the hive? That helps anchor them. When we hive a swarm we try to make sure there is at least one frame with drawn comb, We also close the hive so the bees can not leave and we feed them for a couple of weeks. After they have started laying eggs and there is brood they usually settle in. We have also used a frame of capped brood a few times and that also seems to help.
The hive you think swarmed should be checked so you know what you have. Theoretically the swarm left a bunch of queen cells and at least one of those with hatch then you need to wait while the new queen matures, has her mating flight and starts laying. So you could be looking at a hive made weak by the swarm that will continue to dwindle for over a month until new bees begin to join the colony. It might help to give a frame of capped brood to this hive once a week for the next the next 4 weeks or so until the first brood of the new queen begins to forage.
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