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Working in the yard this AM, noticed that one of my two hives had put out a swarm, ...bees flying everywhere. Went over to check them out and they were settling in a pine almost exactly where a swarm last week settled, culstering up about three feet off the ground..."this'll be a piece of cake, just like last week" I was thinking. The swarm settled (totally settled, very few bees still flying) in two wads, a large and a small, about 8" from each other. When a friend arrived about 45 minutes later to give me a hand, they were every one back in the air, none of the clusters remained. By the time they'd resettled in the same tree (thank goodness) there was only about 1/3 of the bees that were there the first time. The tree is only about 20' from the hives. We put the small cluster in a hive body (I need to get a nuc) with no problems.
QUESTIONS: Could that have been a mating flight rather than a swarm? What does a mating flight look like and how do the bees act? Where would 2/3 of the bees go?...back to their hive? Why would a swarm take to the air again so quickly?
There's more:
We checked the hive that put out the swarm, looking for the marked queen that had been put in the hive last fall, she was nowhere to be found. (Haven't checked the swarm for the marked queen) Capped brood though not in great quantity, no larvae, no eggs...found swarm cells(hatched and not hatched) and two unhatched supersedure (can't spell) cells. Found THREE QUEENS running around! (None of them the marked one)
I'm way in over my head, would someone please help me with what's going on?
There's more:
The bees of this hive are incrediably aggressive. They stayed on buzzing my head 300' back to the house and then kept coming back on me 2-4 at a time anytime I came back out for the next half hour.
I'm concerned.
Thanks in advance to anyone who would respond to any of this.
 

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>Working in the yard this AM, noticed that one of my two hives had put out a swarm, ...bees flying everywhere. Went over to check them out and they were settling in a pine almost exactly where a swarm last week settled, culstering up about three feet off the ground..."

That's why I like to leave the limb if I gather a swarm from a handy place and remove the limb if they swarm on a not very handy place.
They smell the pheromones from the last one.

>By the time they'd resettled in the same tree (thank goodness) there was only about 1/3 of the bees that were there the first time.

Sometimes some end up in another swarm cluster nearby. Sometimes some of them return to the hive. Look around for another swarm.

> The tree is only about 20' from the hives. We put the small cluster in a hive body (I need to get a nuc) with no problems.


>QUESTIONS: Could that have been a mating flight rather than a swarm?

Sounds like more bees than a typical mating flight.

> What does a mating flight look like and how do the bees act?

They do look like they are about to swarm. A lot hanging out front a small amount flying off with the queen at first, but they all return after the queen leaves.

> Where would 2/3 of the bees go?...back to their hive?

That or another swarm.

> Why would a swarm take to the air again so quickly?

Something disrupted them. Perhaps another swarm. Perhaps some left to go take up residence somewhere but the bees didn't come to a consensus so some left and some stayed.

>We checked the hive that put out the swarm, looking for the marked queen that had been put in the hive last fall, she was nowhere to be found.

That sounds like they swarmed.

>Capped brood though not in great quantity

Typical of a hive that swarmed.

> no larvae, no eggs...found swarm cells(hatched and not hatched) and two unhatched supersedure (can't spell) cells.

Sounds typical of a swarm.

> Found THREE QUEENS running around! (None of them the marked one)

Yep.

>I'm way in over my head, would someone please help me with what's going on?

It's a swarm. The bees clustered on the tree. Some either left, found another swarm cluster, or returned to the hive. The swarm queen cells have emerged and those queens have yet to sort things out. Probably the bees had them pinned while they make up their mind to have or not have an afterswarm and you opening the hive gave the queens a chance to bolt. The bees will sort that out. The "supercedure" cells are just swarm cells. Not all of them are always on the bottom, it's just that most of them most of the time are.

>The bees of this hive are incrediably aggressive. They stayed on buzzing my head 300' back to the house and then kept coming back on me 2-4 at a time anytime I came back out for the next half hour.

They must not be in a good mood. I wouldn't count their mood as meaning much until things settle down from the chaos of the swarming.

>I'm concerned.

About what? The hive is not queenless. It looks typical for a hive that has swarmed. Give them a little while. If they get more agressive, split them up until the new queens genetics start to take effect and see how they are. If they get less aggressive, then just be happy.
 

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Thank you Michael, sorry I missed you in Asheville (just up the road from here).
I'm concerned about the aggressiveness more than anything else. (Got some children in the area...may have to move the hives...so far, they only hate me) I just returned from walking out to check things, standing about 40' back, ...and got popped! Then another zeroed in on me and ran me back to the house..all 300'! They've been aggressive like this for several weeks...I'll take your advice and see how the new queen(s) have effect...and will probably plan on requeening in the fall...again. I'm not far enough along to raise my own queens. It's bothersom to have fifteen bucks fly away! (She might be in the swarm though...haven't checked yet) That was the only marked queen I had.....wwaaaaaaaaaaa!
 

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Mark the rest of them.


If they are agressive you might also want to split them and requeen them. Splitting them calms them down a lot. Sometimes they calm down immediately after giving them a new queen. Sometimes it takes a little while.
 

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Michael, if you make it back to this thread...
I've read in many posts about splitting, splits, swarm cells, etc where folks will discuss somehow utilizing swarm cells to have "extra" queens. I removed a capped swarm cell during the hive check mentioned earlier and watched a queen hatch in my hand, then she flew off. What could I have done with her? If I'd been a bit more experienced, what would have been some constructive options?
Thanks again.
 

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Where are you in upper sc. Ive used queencells to requeen all my hives. When she hatched in your hand and flew off did you watch where she went. She may have come back to the hive. If your not to far away we might get together and make you some splits if you want. Cause im going to have 10 or 12 queens in about 5 days hatch out. Got 2 capped now and 8 or 10 still open. So let me know if you want to.
 

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Big Stinger,
I live in Gaffney, work at Robbins Brick on 221, I'm the the one that contacted you awhile back, ...would still like to see your splits and learn a thing or two.
 

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>I've read in many posts about splitting, splits, swarm cells, etc where folks will discuss somehow utilizing swarm cells to have "extra" queens. I removed a capped swarm cell during the hive check mentioned earlier and watched a queen hatch in my hand, then she flew off. What could I have done with her?

Caught her? ;)

Hard to react to one that is emerging. But if you can put each frame with queen cells in it's own nuc with a frame of honey you can get a queen out of each frame.

> If I'd been a bit more experienced, what would have been some constructive options?

If you were quick enough, you could catch her and put her in a cage with a couple of attendants (catch them too) and set up a mating nuc and put her in it tomorrow.
 

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Sorry about not getting up with you sooner than now. But been working 7 days just got back from indiana putting up powerlines from those toronadoes out there. And job im on now is 7 days in charlotte. Are you looking to split ur hives cause i need to do something with these queencells if you need them there yours. But the queenscells will need to be put in soon. You need to come to the bee meeting in rutherford county tuesday at 6:30 pm at the extension office at the senior center. There will be more people there with more experiance than me to help you but ill help you all i can.
So let me know if you want queencells and will set a time to meet and put them in your hives. And set time you can come look at mine.
 

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Response to Michael:
Thank you for your advice! I have a lot to learn!

Response to Big Stinger:
Thank you for the meeting info and the offers! I'll be looking forward to making the meetings, I got a meeting at church this Tues night though. Looking forward to meeting you too. I know Carlton and Matthew Waugh, I think they show up at the bee meetings. If you get a chance to call the brick yard, me or Gregg or Troy would like to get up with you. The three of us are keeping most of our bees at the brick yard, I'll be moving three of my hives there tomorrow night...I got too many here at the house with neighbors and all.
Thanks again.
 
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