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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I am totally new to beekeeping. During the beginning of May 2014 I had the pleasant surprise of finding a swarm of bees and decided to collect it and give it a place to stay. I did this having in mind the possibility of starting beekeeping if they decide to settle.

I collected the swarm in a box I did myself out of wood. The bee seem to be settling in this box but I started to wonder what kind of swarm I have collected. I observed the activity of the bees and they are working really hard. I started to doubt if I have a queen in there since I cannot seem to see her.

How do I know that there is a queen amongst all the bees?

I have attached some photos

2014-05-24 11.07.56.jpg
2014-05-24 11.11.14.jpg

Thanks

Mark
 

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They will usually leave within 5-10 minutes if you don't have her. They will cling to each other in interlocking strands when she is around.
By the looks of things, she's in there somewhere. Leave them be for a bit ( overnight, at least) and there's a good chance they will settle in. It's a complicated subject, but if you give them an empty box of 2-3 cubic feet (~1/3 cubic meter), chances are they will "like" it. Get them into/onto frames as soon as you can if you intend to work them. Otherwise they will begin to dictate terms to you ( it will become more difficult to manage them). If you can't, keep reading, there are always options.

Find some books on beekeeping and read what you can. Try to relax and read, and consider yourself fortunate for the opportunity to live among bees. They will usually do more to take care of themselves than you can. When you find yourself anxious, remind yourself - they've been doing this for thousands of years, I'm just lucky enough to try and help. They will usually make it work, with or without you.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for the information. They have been in there for a week now and as can be seen from the picture they are already building a comb. I intend to buy a a hive but the transfer to the frames wont be easy I guess as the comb they built is attached to the box. Got some books and am reading about them right now. Such interesting creatures.
 

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Those are some dark bees you have in Malta, striping is almost unapparent. Not always will a swarm have a queen. I picked up a queenless swarm on thursday, it was small so I was almost sure there was no queen, ended up shaking it into nuc that could use some bees. Generally the easiest thing to do is hive the swarm on drawn comb, they will cover the comb and you can easily find her, especially a very small swarm like yours. The other option is to manually find her by shaking the bees onto the bottom of the box or grabbing clumps with your hand.



At any rate your swarm is pretty darn small, here in my area they wouldn't survive.
 

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Yes quite small...'a bit of a concern. They're likely to need your help. I've stocked my observation hive with tiny swarms like that and enjoyed watching them grow.
As they are staying put, it's most likely that things are generally fine and the queen is too. I read somewhere about cutting and tying pieces of wild comb & bees into (empty) wooden frames with string. That helped with one of the first cut-outs I ever did.
 

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They look more like carnis to me. By this time you should see some new eggs and larvae on the cells.
If you see eggs/larvae then the queen is laying and they are staying. It is time now to put some bee
frames inside the box next to this comb so you can do easy hive inspection later on. When you see eggs/larvae on the new
frames then you can cut this comb out and put it into a frame and put rubber bands around it to secure. The next step is
for you to learn about honey extraction, swarm control and queen rearing. Beekeeping is a fun hobby. I'm sure you will enjoy it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I already have some DIY frames in there. They are not of any standard measures. I was so excited and anxious that the swarm might fly away that I just found a box and modified it to accomodate some frames within hours. When i put them in the box I could see the bees pointing there abdomen in the air and within minutes they were are set inside the box. They actually started building a comb on one if the frames but for some reason they stopped. Hopefully they will get back to work on it someday so that by the time that I buy the beehive I can do as you told me and maybe keep this box for collecting swarms.

Have a look at the entire inside of the box including the abondoned semifinished comb and frames
http://tinypic.com/r/2gtww8k/8
http://tinypic.com/r/280qsuh/8
 

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I have been called out to collect a small swarm only to find out the swarm is gone and I'm collecting the ball of returning scout bees.
 

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Hopefully they will get back to work on it someday so that by the time that I buy the beehive I can do as you told me and maybe keep this box for collecting swarms.

Have a look at the entire inside of the box including the abondoned semifinished comb and frames
http://tinypic.com/r/2gtww8k/8
http://tinypic.com/r/280qsuh/8
The frames are too far below and away from them right now. 'Looks like it would be difficult to move them up along side right now with out beating them up too much. Nice try, you're on the right track. For future use, the frames need to be right up top. That tiny bit of comb might thrill another swarm!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Ill try and fit a small frame up there to try and get them to build a comb on that. Maybe ill add some wiring. Either way this is really exciting and will be buying a starter kit asap and maybe be able to use this colony without stressing them too much
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hi,

The swarm I caught left haphazardly.

I analyzed the comb they were working on and would love to get feedback on it so as to learn some more about these bees.

When the swarm first visited I put them in a box and I think that there was no queen since they built only drone cells (see pictures attached). None of the cells were uncapped. What do you guys think?

What can you tell more about these pictures?

Thanks

Mark

IMAG0960.jpg
IMAG0962.jpg
IMAG0963.jpg
 

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Hi,

The swarm I caught left haphazardly.

I analyzed the comb they were working on and would love to get feedback on it so as to learn some more about these bees.

When the swarm first visited I put them in a box and I think that there was no queen since they built only drone cells (see pictures attached). None of the cells were uncapped. What do you guys think?

What can you tell more about these pictures?

Thanks

Mark

View attachment 11543
View attachment 11544
View attachment 11545
They may have had a virgin that ended up not getting mated and ended up a drone layer.

That's too bad :(
 

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Being in Malta, you may have caught A.M. Saharensis , A.M. Adamsonii, or other race of bees...Ask other beekepers locally what races are present on Malta. If there are any dead bee bodies left, see if there is a university that can check the genetics. Some of our answers may not work on your bees, as they may have different habits.
 

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Magromarkbee-
DO look up Maltese honey bee on Wikipedia. Looks like that is exactly what you have, if not Italian (A.M. Ligurica) / maltese crosses, as the Italian and other bees were brought in after varroa destructor mites invaded Malta in 1992. These are threatening the pure strain of Maltese honey bees, but the some of the crossed bees do have some tolerance / resistance to varroa.
 
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