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I put my first swarm trap out March 18. As of today, I have three swarm traps and an empty hive, which is, essentially, another swarm trap. Late this morning I went out to check traps and noticed a few scouts going in and out of Swarm Trap #3, sitting on some man-made blocks behind the house. Had been meaning to get it up in the trees. Went to check #2 and saw a few bees flying around it. Checked #1 and found a few scouts there too.

Came back to #3 and there were a dozen bees flying in, out and around the trap. An hour later there were dozens in the air around it. This could be going somewhere!

SwarmTrap#3-03.jpg

Here's a video from an hour or so later:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV_wVP0oPQs

This afternoon I realized I had not put gates on traps #2 & #1, so wandered off with gates, screws, tools and ladder. Not a bit of action going on at #3. Guess they came, they saw, they left - Qui venientes viderunt reliquerunt. Still some girls going in, out and around #2. Got the gates installed and realized the attic did not have vent screens. I talked to my neighbors for a few minutes and walked back to the garage to get staple gun and #8 Screen. This is 10-15 minutes after I walked by vacant Trap #3. Here's what I found!
SwarmTrap#3-04.jpg
Here's a video as I'm walking up and seeing a small cloud of bees in the air:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LE4HrQAKN3g
There's a nice march into the hive going on. I'm not sure if it's my poor internet making it look like it was going in and out of focus, or all the bees between me and the hive causing that.

I'm going to be talking to the gentleman who runs our local beekeeping club. Hard to do much i person for a while yet, so I'm open to ideas . . .

Plans:
Leave them in the swarm trap for 1-2 weeks, to get established. It's a Layens, 7-frame, so it's deep.
Option 1: Close them up soon, move them about 75 yards and set them up on top of the hive they are going to go into, put an obstruction in front of the door to force them to reorient. Let them get established in that location and then move the frames into the hive.
Option 2: Leave them where they are, move them when I'm ready to transfer frames, put an obstruction in front of the door to force them to reorient.
Option 2b: do this at night with a red light.

My lovely wife was heard to mention to my neighbors who came up to see the swarm, "I was beginning to think he wasn't going to get a swarm . . ."

Thanks!

John
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
I'll just 'bump' this as it's related ...

As mentioned, May 2 I caught a swarm in Trap #3, just sitting outside my garage. Before they arrived, I was seeing increasing numbers of scout bees flying around the hive, up to dozens, then no bees, then the swarm arrived.

Swarm Trap #2 had bees flying around it at the same time, not quite the same numbers. This trap has now had bees visiting it in various numbers, for 72 Hours. Every day there have been bees hanging around. We've had cool nights, a thunderstorm blew through yesterday afternoon and rain during the night last night.

Does wing position have any meaning? Here's what I've observed:
  • Tend to hold wings at approximately a 45 degree angle, not fanning, not holding abdomens up
  • Some crawling around the inside, in an out and the front
  • Some flying around the outside of the box
  • Some coming and going
  • Some touching of antennas
  • Some rubbing hind legs on the rearmost portion of their abdomen

Trap#305052020-02.jpg
Trap#305052020-01.jpg

Is this the 20% that lost the vote when the rest of the hive went to Trap #3?
Is this potentially another hive thinking about swarming?
Are these 'lost' scouts that have just remained at the hive?

I've read that swarming tends to take place around 1-2P? How do temperatures affect swarming? I've tried to Google this and tend to get information related to thermoregulation in the hive.

As a side note, all of my traps are new wood ware, essentially bare frames, bees wax dribbled on starter tabs and LGO slow release vials.

Thanks for any thoughts about the girls.

John
 

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Interesting. I can't answer most of your questions, but it is known that scouts will measure the potential new hive so much of what you are observing may have to do with that and communicating their "findings" to others. Have you read Dr. Seeley's Honeybee Democracy? It is a great book and details what he has concluded in the study of swarming. J
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Morning FiveJ,

It's on my list, along with unearthing my old copy of 'The Hive and the Honey Bee'. I buried it somewhere twenty years ago! I'll have to bump up Seeley. :)

John
 

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Thanks for any thoughts about the girls.
John:

Sheer speculation on my part, but I would vote for swarm scouts assessing and potentially guarding a prime swarm site.

I have seen scouts visit a trap for a week or more prior to a swarm arriving, and have also seen scouts from different colonies fighting over the real estate- this might explain the touching of antennae, etc.

Hopefully your next post will be to brag about the monster swarm you caught ;).

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Good Morning Russ,

I'm optimistic about your speculation and will report back if/when I catch that monster swarm! Still had visitors off and on till late yesterday afternoon :)

I may have committed a Beekeeping Faux Pas yesterday . . . with the several storms/rain coming through and cool nights (down to 42F last night; chance for frost Saturday) I wanted to feed the girls. They're in a swarm trap and the only feeder I have is a 20 year old plastic Boardman Style. I mixed up some 1:1 Syrup, set a brick in front of the trap to bring the feeder to the level of the front door faced it to the front door. Watched for robbing all day long and never saw any indication of it. The girls took in 1C water:1C sugar, so I think that was a win. I also noticed the occasional load of pollen coming into the hive yesterday! I think when it warms up (High 69F today) I may have to take a look into the trap and see how it's going. May be getting on time to move them into the hive.

John
 

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This was my 1st year trying swarm traps so I'm just sharing my experience. I've had two "catch". Both fairly to home, I failed my bees and they didn't survive the winter so not from my hives.
Swarm 1 was in a ratty 10 frame deep that I set on top of my woodshed, about 7' above ground. I hadn't really seen any scouting activity on that box till about 2 weeks ago and started seeing lots of bees coming and going. Just to see what might be going on I poked my endoscope camera in and the box was definitely occupied. I guessed they'd been there 4-5 days. I moved them to a permanent location a day or two later and they already had capped brood. So, closer to 2 weeks since they'd moved in.
Swarm 2 was in a fancy trap I built and set on my neighbors place. I had seen scouting activity at that trap from 2 days after I set it out. I used the endoscope and verified it was occupied the day after I checked the first one. That was about a month after I had set out bait hives. I moved it to permanent quarters the same day as swarm 1. They had eggs and open brood but no capped brood.
Both have been in the hive for a week now. Swarm one is taking syrup almost as fast as I can fill up the frame feeder. Swarm 2 isn't taking much at all.
Both traps were baited with Swarm Commande and had 1 frame of old brood comb and bare foundation for the rest.
Good luck, bee fishing is a lot of fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Afternoon Larry,

I actually saw your post about capturing your swarms and using your camera to inspect. I like that idea.

I am having fun and looking forward to the next swarm!

John
 

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Played with my camera at the hive this morning and got a decent shot of one of the girls loaded with pollen about to fly in the entrance. Just before, I missed a wasp getting balled up with bees at the entrance, when it showed a little too much interest.

SwarmTrap03001.jpg

John
 

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Hopefully your next post will be to brag about the monster swarm you caught ;).

Russ
Morning Russ,

Just thought I'd pop back in and update my swarm trapping. Never did get that "monster swarm". I had a LOT of bees paying attention to the swarm trap by my garage and to the one south of the house. Visits dropped off at the South trap, while one day I thought I had another swarm, with hundreds of bees around the one by the garage. Then, they all up and disappeared. Accommodations must not have suited! Not really seeing any more visitors to the traps. Moved one of three to my sons house and I'm going to leave them up until August.

John
 

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I'd leave them all up much later than August. A late swarm may not have time to get established, but can still be used to bulk up a weak hive. Even much farther north than you they still will swarm in fall.
 

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..... while one day I thought I had another swarm, with hundreds of bees around the one by the garage. Then, they all up and disappeared.....
John
It happens.
The accommodation was probably fine.
More likely the still-owner of the swarm caught it BEFORE they had a chance to move into your trap.
Which is only fair.
:)
 

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Visits dropped off at the South trap, while one day I thought I had another swarm, with hundreds of bees around the one by the garage. Then, they all up and disappeared.
John:

Sorry to hear you didn't snag another swarm. That said, don't beat yourself up- I equate swarm trapping to something akin to fishing, sometimes you can do everything 'right' but the fish simply aren't biting- then other times, you can simply have a hook in the water and you get a bite. The key is to make sure you're fishing...

Hopefully your hived swarm is doing well and it will serve as a good base from which you can build your apiary from. And it's never too early to start getting ready for next year...

Good luck with your beekeeping efforts this Summer.

Russ
 
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