Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 20 of 23 Posts

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,456 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
a couple of years ago i posted a thread about what i believed to be a usurpation attempt:

http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?275239-101312-usurpation-attempt&highlight=usurpation

i had another one today, but unlike the first one i actually saw the ursurping swarm fly into my yard so i know it didn't come from any of my hives.

as luck would have it i discovered today that one of the colonies in my home yard had a failed queen. i suspected it was queenless after noticing robber bees expressing interest and not seeing any pollen being brought in even though all of the other colonies were bringing it in by the truck load.

on inspection i found the runt queen that most likely failed to get mated properly. she was supposed to be the replacement queen after a swarm issued a couple of months ago. there were no eggs or brood, except a couple of queen cells with jelly that were probably started with unfertilized eggs.

i pinched the queen, destroyed the queen cells, and decided to go to my nuc yard at the end of the day and bring one home to combine with the queenless colony.

just as i was about to leave for the nuc yard i heard some buzzing. it was coming from a small swarm cloud of bees approaching my yard from the nearby woods.

when they got to my yard the bees started checking out my hives. i figured they were looking for a new home and i thought it sure would be nice if they moved into my now queenless hive. i took the entrance reducer off of the queenless hive, but by then the usurpers were trying to make their way into a few of my other hives.

i reduced the entrances on all hives except for the queenless one just to place it safe, but i'm pretty sure the others were strong enough to not be taken over by such a small swarm. there was still a lot of fighting though which resulted in a fair number of dead bees on the ground. had i walked up to the yard in the middle of all that i would have just thought it was a robbing frenzy.

i wasn't able to locate the usurping queen this time, but hopefully she ended up in the queenless hive. they probably had that one scouted out to begin with. if she's there i'll pinch her too, that's one trait i'm not too crazy about propagating.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,046 Posts
That is styrange, I watched one of my hives be taken over today by a swarm. I had actually checked the hive that got taken over yesterday and decided that they were way too weak to make it and was going to have to add a couple of frames of bees to it. But now, no need.... lol

Second takover I have had in my yard this year.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,456 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
no kidding, that's crazy jb. have you been back into the first one yet to check their temperment? we haven't had any ahb confirmed this far north yet, but i think they've made it to the panhandle.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,951 Posts
I posted this September of last year:
Twice in the last three weeks small swarms have taken over queenless NUCs in my apiary. They are not from my hives. AHB have been reported to take over hives like this, I've not seen it before (just another gap in my education ) and don't know how concerned I should be. No increased defensiveness in either NUC yet, I work them in shorts, bare arms and no gloves.

At dusk last night a swarm was forming on a tree next to the beeyard behind my house. I noticed some bearding on a queenless NUC as it got dark and put a honeycomb on a stick next to the baseball sized group of bees in the tree. The bees marched right onto the comb and I waited until morning to sort things out. Few bees on the comb in the tree this morning. The mating NUC with bearding on it last night was full of bees and I found a ball of bees with a queen inside. I marked the (virgin looking) queen and released her into the NUC after observing no aggression toward her.

About three weeks ago, the same thing happened with another queenless mating NUC two feet from the NUC described above. That time, I let the bearding go on for three days before investigating becaue it was 105+ during the day that week. When I looked, I found three balls of bees containing piping queens. I rescued three virgin queens (all later died) and discovered a queen that began laying a few days later.

I hypothecize there is a bee tree nearby throwing off small swarms in the dearth we have now.

I live in AHB country, so will be particularly alert for that influence, but currently, my suspicion they are Africanized is low.

Any thoughts?
Had a usurpation this week. This time in a NUC with a good laying queen in it -exact same location as last year's episodes. The new queen spent the night in a cage with her bees and died the next morning. I read about usurpation years ago, before AHB arrived, didn't I?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,456 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
howdy lee. yeah, it appears that bees have been usurping all along, but as you point out it's more of a concern these days in ahb areas. which queen died?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,951 Posts
My grafted queen is AWOL and the new queen died.

Last year, I pinched the usurping queen and froze her brood. Can't be too careful. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,951 Posts
My grafted queen is AWOL and the new (swarm)queen died.
I admit that it was almost dark when I found the queen in the swarm and I picked the queen up with my numb fingers....may have injured her as I carried her up to the shop where I had a cage. Wasn't happy to lose that grafted queen, she was one of ten or so grafted queens I got before the breeder queen disappeared. ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,291 Posts
I read somewhere a couple years ago africanized genetics were found in tenneesee. Potentially the genetics could be as far north as the package and nuc supply.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,848 Posts
Thanks for sharing, these accounts are fascinating. Also, just happening to be on site and seeing the swarm approach and watch the whole thing unfold is definite confirmation of what was going on so very useful information.

I wonder if AHB do it to each other also?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,046 Posts
no kidding, that's crazy jb. have you been back into the first one yet to check their temperment? we haven't had any ahb confirmed this far north yet, but i think they've made it to the panhandle.
Temperments were fine. queens were not marked so I can't say which prevailed.

I will say that there was some fighting on the landing board and ground in front of the hive today. So I will check them in a few days and see what they are like.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,848 Posts
No, or at least it's never been observed. We have swarms of nice polite Italians that simply refuse to enter an occupied hive.

In fact they are so reluctant to combine that one time I got 2 swarms that were small so decided to combine them. Didn't bother looking for queens but put them both in a cardboard box & shook around to mingle them, then dumped in front of an empty hive and they walked in, it was going on evening. Early next morning though, one of them left as I watched. Don't know how they did it but somehow they figured out which bees would leave & which would stay, & one of the swarms left. I caught & hived it in a different hive and it was viable, and the one left behind was viable also.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,456 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
very interesting. it must vary by strain, and some strains other than ahb apparently do this. the usurpers today are marked up a little different mine, i think they are the same ones that come around from time to time looking for a free meal.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,456 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Temperments were fine. queens were not marked so I can't say which prevailed.

I will say that there was some fighting on the landing board and ground in front of the hive today. So I will check them in a few days and see what they are like.
good deal. as i mentioned, today's swarm was pretty small to begin with, and then they divided up on several hives. i don't think they stood a chance unless they have some special way of getting to the queen and killing her.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,848 Posts
One usurpation I read about (unfortunately don't have the link), he said the swarm not much bigger than a cupful of bees he believed to be ahb settled on the outside of the hive. Over a few days they moved next to the entrance, and then inside but maintained a separate cluster. He cautiously opened the hive every day to see what was happening. He said they were defending their cluster but going off & fighting with the other bees. After a few days his original queen vanished, and then the cluster merged with the ahb queen taking over.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,456 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
One usurpation I read about (unfortunately don't have the link), he said the swarm not much bigger than a cupful of bees he believed to be ahb settled on the outside of the hive. Over a few days they moved next to the entrance, and then inside but maintained a separate cluster. He cautiously opened the hive every day to see what was happening. He said they were defending their cluster but going off & fighting with the other bees. After a few days his original queen vanished, and then the cluster merged with the ahb queen taking over.
dang! sneaky littly rascals aren't they, that they can assimilate like that and take over. that's pretty much why i don't want bees having that trait finding their way into my stock.

after discovering the queenless colony yesterday, i reduced the entrance on it down to a single bee. if that hive was the target of the usurpers, reducing the entrance may have thwarted their plans and caused them to take on the stronger colonies. maybe if i would have acted quicker to remove that reducer.....?

last year's usurpation attempt happened to be on the smallest colony in the yard at the time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,135 Posts
Interesting. The usurp by occupation group must be able to maintain their identity while the victims are not able to distinguish the difference between friend or foe. Enhanced smell ability?
What happens after the trait enters the general gene pool ? Does the usurpation trait self extinguish because it is no longer an advantage?
An advantage in an area of transition but not occupation?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,456 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
good questions sb.

small swarms in late summer/early fall are not unusual around here. i'm guessing that they are secondary to supercedure and/or the downsizing of population in advance of fall preps for winter. i'm also guessing that the bees have enough sense to know that it would next to impossible to establish in an empty cavity this late in the season and so go looking for a weak or queenless colony to join up with. it would have nice if they would have went straight into my queenless hive, but as it is i'll have to inspect it again today to see if the nuc combine is still needed.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,456 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
well as of this am the queenless hive is still queenless, and the others have resumed moderate foraging with all of the fighting stopped.

so i'm not sure what became of the ursurpers, but i'm guessing they have given up or moved on.

looks like i'll need that nuc for the combine after all.
 
1 - 20 of 23 Posts
Top