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First ever swarm!! (second one too!!!!)

789 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  mike haney
I had seen a swarm captured years ago. Never did one though.

I took a call and the guy (know him very well) said 'Mark, the honeybees are swarmin again!' I jump in the truck and head right over. Its only about 40 minutes away.

I arrive. There they are. Nice and tightly clustered on a single bottom branch of a fir tree. I had to lift the branch UP 3-4" to be able to clear the deep hive so I could knock them down. I would say volume, there were about a gallon of bees. It went textbook. Flipped them down, pulled the box back and looked around for the queen. I didn't see her amongst the pile, so I inserted very carefully the 8 foundationless frames and had 2 old drawn comb in the center. Looked up and there was a grapefruit size cluster, cut them down and shook into hive. Closed cover and let them BEE. All of this took less than 10 minutes.

NOW the exciting part! While I was scooting the box under the bees there was ANOTHER swarm about 60' away. They were moving and just as soon as I had the top on the original hive, they were nearing the edge of the field. I grab my bucket and hive tool. CLANG CLANG CLANG, here is this guy dressed in a window screen, beating on a bucket running into a swarm of bees! It WORKED! I always thought it was like a glass stretcher you send the new guy for, but this actually worked! They lit on a branch about 8' in the air. I backed my pickup under it, let them finish clustering and realized they were NOT going to fit in 1 deep. All I had w/ me was 2 deeps, 8 foundationless frames and 7 full drawn frames. I scramble and get more wooden ware coming, and start in. Took 2 hours of carefully trimming and pruning branches back to have clear access to the bees. I shook clusters until I thought I was going to go mad. The owners of the place and the rest of the tight knit community stood back about 70yds commenting among themselves how this crazy dude in a window screen, jeans and t-shirt was going to get ATE.

First swarm was hived @ 1pm. Second was hived @ 3pm. I stayed until dark watching and waiting to see signs that they accept the new provisions. At 6-630pm they were cleaning house and throwing stuff out the door from the old frames that I scrambled to get. I didn't remember seeing bees that looked like they rolled in orange flour.... but 6-630 they were headed into the hives looking like flourescent balls of yarn.

BOTH hives cleaning house and BOTH hives pulling pollen (so it seems)

All total for the afternoon was 6-7 frames in the small swarm box. They are draped down 6 frames and are covering both old frames like 'normal'

The big swarm after it was all said and done had 6 frames worth of bees peeking at me when I replaced the top to utilize a 1:1 feeder. I assume the bottom is full also. I would guess volumes on the large swarm to fill 3-3.5 gallons. (I use an ice tea pitcher in my head to compare volumes, lol)

I dont have extra brood to spare. I 'salvaged' a small hive yesterday that I used a frame of brood from my stronger hive. The two hives I have established are nucs installed 5/10. I added another nuc 5/13 to a queenless nuc, to make it queen right. This is the one I stole a frame of capped/emerging brood w/support bees for saving the small colony. Queen excluder below the box and above the bottom board is out of the question right now due to 20yr old 3" screws that have very nicely stripped phillips heads. I am OUT of wooden ware, wont be able to restock until Tuesday.

Do you think leaving them screened in for a couple days would work for an anchor.... or should I just uncork them and let them bee?

Thanks for reading the novel... I get a little winded when I am excited.

Thanks for any input.


PS... I was SOLO this go round. That big'un would have been MUCH nicer to have a helping hand.
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"...should I just uncork them and let them bee?..."
thats what i do, but many advocate closing/screening them in. i suspect local genes have much to do with this as i have never had a FED swarm to leave and others report that they have had many do so. as a side note, the branches that you shook the swarms from are excellent locations for future swarm traps because of the scent left there. good luck,mike
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