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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I watched my first hive throw a swarm yesterday around 2PM. They gathered at the very top of a tree directly in front of the hive, which was about 20' up. It was possible for me to get them down but my son was graduating high school yesterday so I had to leave them there and hope that the activity I saw around my swarm bait box meant they would eventually choose it for their home (about 10 bees were moving in and out of it).

Well at around 5-7PM it POURED rain and there was quite a bit of rain but they were still there when I drove by the house. Last night I believe we had storms because the power had been out and everything is soaked this morning. Needless to say the swarm is no longer on the tree but there are still a few bees hanging out where the swarm had been. So I have a few questions:

1) What do swarms do in storms or extremely rainy situations?

2) When should I check the bait box? It's rainy today so I doubt I'd see much motion even if they DID choose it.

3) What do I look for in the old hive and should I postpone inspection till the new queen has time for mating flight?
 

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I expect you are going to get a variety of answers. Do not feel bad, it takes some experience to get a handle on how to prevent swarming and drawn comb, which almost nobody has at the beginning, will be a great help in the future.

1) They hang out until it is over if they haven't decided upon a location. The cluster will toss back and forth on the branch despite the wind and rain.

2) If your ears are good you don't even need to lift the lid - just press on ear on the side of the box if they are there you will hear them buzzing through the box. Otherwise just wait until it stops raining, bees should be evident guarding the entrance.

3) The hive will have bees, brood, and queen cells. Don't postpone looking into the hive longer than a week. What you do next depends upon your priorities.

Lets say you want them to raise their own queen, but don't want to see an afterswarm - bees will often swarm a few times from the same box if they feel strong. Each subsequent swarm will contain a virgin and a cluster of bees robbing the bees in the box of its potential energy. To avoid afterswarms but let them raise their own queen, kill all the queen cells except one. If you do this pick a large capped cell in the middle of a frame, not on the bottom, don't jostle it and put that frame in the center of the box and mark it with a sharpie so you don't lose track of it.
Bees have a habit of tucking queen cells in improbable difficult to see places. If you follow this option inspect every square inch of comb, including the corners, very carefully. There is about an 80% chance that a newly emerged queen will make it to a laying queen.

The other option is to kill all the queen cells and introduce a mated queen. If you do this you have to make sure that all the queen cells are killed because if there is a virgin in there they will never accept your purchased queen. This option means your bee population doesn't decline as much as it would if you take the first option and let them make their own. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. I won't be absolutely certain until I've done an inspection but I'm almost positive that there is a virgin queen in the old hive that was released from her queen cell on the day of the swarm. Earlier that same day I had popped the top to see how the supers were looking and I heard "piping" (a high pitch whine) from what I believe they say is a newly released queen. I should have split right then but I was really uncertain of myself because I'd never heard it in person before, just online...
 

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1) They can take the rain (search "open air hives"). Sometimes they will move to a different branch. Have seen a small swarm freeze and fall to the ground when temp got 39 deg. I tried staking a new swarm that I could not reach several times which disturbed them enough they went back to the hive.

2) Don't disturb the swarm trap if there' bee in or around it, wait a week after you know you have a swarm (see pollen coming in)

3) Go through the old hive, remove all but the best two swarm cells that are close to each other of the same age, otherwise they will swarm over and over. Use your bee math to figure out how old they queen cells are that you are leaving (hive usually swarms after cell is capped-8 days) You want to check your hive 34 days from egg to laying queen. You don't need to see the queen just look for eggs or larva.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmath.htm
 

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>1) What do swarms do in storms or extremely rainy situations?

They hang with their wings overlapping like shingles and the water runs off for the most part. Of course if the wind and storm are violent enough, that isn't enough, but usually they pick a sheltered spot and they run the water off.

>2) When should I check the bait box? It's rainy today so I doubt I'd see much motion even if they DID choose the it.

It really doesn't matter. Good news will keep. Bad news won't go away.

>3) What do I look for in the old hive and should I postpone inspection till the new queen has time for mating flight?

If the day is nice, I'd look in it to see how crowded they are now. If they are still pretty crowded, I'd split them and give queen cells to both sides of the split. If you want/need some more queens, you may find cells in there that you can use for that. Put each frame that has some queen cells with a frame of honey in a nuc. Leave one queen cell for the original colony.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you Michael Bush! I think I will be needing more equipment...right now I just have the hive they swarmed from, a new hive I've prepared for a package and the old hive in the tree for swarm bait. Should probably get a nuc now I guess.
 
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