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How big do these things get?

1821 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  odfrank
Our mentor called us at 7 AM. "Hey, wanna come and help me collect a swarm?"

Well, why not. Haven't tried one yet, but with people describing a cluster of bees hanging on a branch that you plop into a box, it should be quick and simple, right?

Shucks, last week someone described a softball-sized cluster ... just snipped off the twig it was on and her friend drove her home holding the twig.

So we get there and there's this little Bradford Pear about 12 ft high, and starting about 6 ft up and running about 4 ft up from that is this thick mass of sleepy bees on the trunk. The mentor stares at this for a while, wishing they were on a branch instead, and noticing all the branches on this little ornamental tree, trying to figure out how to get them into a nuc box. We estimated 5 pounds of bees, easily the largest swarm he'd ever tried to catch.

An hour and a half later we had maybe 3/4 of them in a nuc box. Everything is sticky from syrup spray. There was still a pound or more stubbornly returning just above where we could reach with a brush. Shaking the tree got them flying but they went back to that spot. Could be the queen there? Can't tell.

We took what we could to his apiary and established them in a hive (they pretty much filled a 10-frame deep). We'll be back this afternoon with his bee vac to see if the rest have hung around.
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I think most giant swarms are really multiple swarms that have combined with multiple queens.

When hiving them if you see any type division trying to happen, like two groups separating, I put them in multiple hives about 10' apart. If they really are only one hive they will merge back together on there own in one of the hives. But, if they are multiple swarms with multiple queens and you dump them in to the same hive, one or likely both swarms will abscond from your set up.


By the way, using a vacuum to catch swarms is the lowest form of skullduggery. Ranks right up there with pot shooting ducks, tv dinners, and the designated hitter. :lookout:


Don
 

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According to my uncle the fly fisherman, the lowest form of life on Earth is people who fish with worms.

Still, leaving a portion of that diminished swarm up in the tree seems like cruel and unusual punishment.
Go back and have another crack at them, if they are queen-less they won't be concentrated together (or most likely many there), and left on there own will return to their parent colony. If on the other hand if there is a good size group tightly festooning they have another queen and can be caught and hived separate from the group you caught earlier.

Good luck, follow your mentors lead.

Don
 
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