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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am in Australia and therefore middle of summer, it is not swarming season but I have heard of swarms recently. I am currently trying to keep the small hive beetles in my hives under control, our recent weather has made them a particular problem locally.
While going through my hives last week I was expecting to find some damage from beetles. The hive I was most worried about was fine (over a week later it still is). However, a nuc I wasn’t at all worried about, was not. All the frames were covered in larvae, there were some dead bees but not a huge number and I couldn’t find a dead queen. Sadly I have gotten quite a bit of experience with these beetles in a short time, judging by how bad the infestation was I estimate the bees must have left about 3 days previous.
I had a queenless hive that had queen cells on three frames. I was sitting back and pondering what to do about the loss of my nuc, if I should try and make up another with a queen cell immediately. While I was sitting, a swarm of bees appeared a little way outside of my apiary. I managed to coax it into a hive box I had in the shed. The swarm came out of the forest right next to my apiary, I have suspected with limited evidence, that this forest has one or more feral colonies and I thought that was where the swarm had come from.
Yesterday I went through the new swarm and found a queen. She was marked blue for being a 2020 queen. This is how I had marked my queen that was in the beetle infested nuc.
When the swarm arrived the bees were really big and fat and when they briefly settled, they left wax flakes on the surface underneath, they were also very docile. This all made me think they were a “fresh swarm”. How long can a swarm remain in that state? Is it probable that the swarm came from my nuc? How does an absconding swarm compare to a reproductive swarm in behaviour?
 

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Is it probable that the swarm came from my nuc? How does an absconding swarm compare to a reproductive swarm in behaviour?
RKT:

Sorry to read about your troubles- while I have never attempted to hive a swarm that was a known abscond, it seems logical to me based on your anecdotal evidence and the seasonal timing that the swarm might have been the colony that left the SHB-slimed hive.

Regardless, with a little bit of beekeeper assistance, the swarm might be able to get well-provisioned to close the season out, especially without undue SHB pressure.

Best of success to you.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply Russ. The swarm is doing well and as it was a 5 frame nuc with the queen only just starting to lay, most of the brood lost was capped drone cells. I froze the frames before too much damage was done and they are cleaned and ready to go back, so I don’t think too much was lost. Getting rid of the beetle pressure is another thing though..
 

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Getting rid of the beetle pressure is another thing though.
Tell me about it! Beetle trays, reduced entrances and packed hives is the only combination I've found that produces a reliability positive defense against them. Best of success to you in your management of these pests.
 
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