I've been wondering the same thing. The size of my colony has changed so drastically in the last few weeks that I'm not sure I'd recognize a post-swarm hive. If I saw the swarm happen or found it on a tree, though, well. I'd recognize THAT.
I assume, though, if you have a marked queen you could tell if she was gone and make the assumption. Mine isn't marked, so unless I can spot her, I can't be sure.
Cmonkey, yes packed packed with food to leave the hive a good start, and compensate for taking away half the workers.
When I took the U. of M. bee course we were told it was unusual for new packages on new equipment to swarm. I don't find that to be so. I think we in the midwest are blessed with so much bee forage for such an extended length of time that a beekeeper has to keep an eye on the boxes all summer.
For those whose hives have swarmed, don't feel bad. I am coming to learn (3rd season) : That it takes experience to prevent swarms; That you need twice as much spare equipment as you think you do; It is satisfying to keep those bees at home.
ITA about the equipment. I wish I'd had at least another hive kit. As it stands, I think the split I did yesterday is happy with their new digs. I just saw this on the mother hive, which is more activity I've seen in several weeks. It was pretty warm today, so I think probably they were just cooling down, but still.
Is this bearding, or aren't there enough of them out there?
I got right up next to the hive and saw lots of them just ... sitting there. A few were licking the outside of the hive. I wonder if there was a bit of condensation developing or something. I don't know. It's hard to get an idea of what's going on inside the hive by looking at the outside, if you don't even know what's going on out there. Day by day, right?
I would call it bearding, or judging the configuration ... moustaching. However, it looks normal. I'm still getting used to seeing a pile of bees on the front of my most populous hive on warm days. It is a double deep, with four mediums on top, one of which I extracted already. What I am noticing though is a difference between healthy populous bearding and pre-swarming bearding. When my top-bar hive swarmed the year before last. The bearding occupied so much of the front of the hive that all work stopped. It was as though they were on strike. With this healthy bearding, normal work goes on around the beard, and if you watch the beard in the morning you can see it diminish as bees take off to start work. If they stop working I'll get nervous. Also with regard to the equipment. I pretty much only buy frames now, everything else is easy to make if you have a table saw. Winter is equipment time.
I feel like the numbers seem different but I haven't opened the hive, just noticing they aren't clustered outside as much and its been quite hot and humid lately. Would number of bees be that noticeable in a swarm?
One of my five hives swarmed last week. The bees in that hive started acting different without a queen, or at least a fertilized one. All of the other hives have bees on the "front porch" except the swarmed one. Generally, the hive lost its organization and bees are flying around without a leader. Hopefully, the new queen will be back in business soon.
Seriously, I think that unless you see a swarm happening, nobody really knows fer sure (super master beeks excluded). You can try to prevent a swarm by several means, but in the end they are going to swarm if they want to. The whole idea of being a "better beek" without swams is BS. I quit worrying about it and it has made my beekeeking hobby much more relaxed and fun.
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