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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, so this morning while gardening I saw a swarm of bees (probably mine) hanging off a garden trellis. I captured it which was actually really easy. I took an empty super (with frames) put it on a storage container lid so it would have a bottom, picked up the flower pot the bees were clumped to and shook the bees off and into the box.

The frames had sugar water sprayed on it and also a bit of queen pheromone, and I must've caught the swarm queen because everything was great and all the bees went in. For the lid, I put on a bee escape board with the center hole covered with a bit of screening. I didn't really have anything else and I figured that was the perfect size plus had the screened opening for ventilation.

The only thing is, I don't have a home for them yet -- I don't have any spare completed hives so will have to wait 2 - 3 days until I get a top & bottom in the mail.

Is it Ok to keep them in this closed up set-up for that amount of time? Would it actually be good because they'd familiarize themselves with it as "home"? The super they're in will eventually be the hive body, so any comb they build would actually be an asset. (I've read several posts saying not to keep a swarm in a box for too long, but the reasoning always seemed to be that they would build comb which would be a pain -- but if they build comb in my set up, it would be where I wanted it!)

Currently, I can't figure out how to modify my set-up so it has an entrance even if I wanted it to. I could prop open the lid, but I feel like that would give it too large of an entrance and they wouldn't like that. I could drill a hole in the side of the box, but I know they would HATE the vibrations and idk if I have a drill bit big enough. I could remove the screen that's over the bee escape, because I heard that eventually bees figure out how to get back through escape boards. But that would put the entrance to the hive on the lid, which I'd think they'd instinctively want to avoid due to rainfall.


Tomorrow's weather is a high of 63, low of 52. Day after that is high of 68 and past that it gets to the mid-70s. They're in a shadey area.

Any advice appreciated! Thanks!
 

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Just remove part of the screening that is covering the center hole. Light is coming in that way so they are probably looking there anyway for the exit.

Any chance you can move the whole contraption to it's final hive spot? That is the biggest thing, getting them to orient to their new location. The actual box doesn't matter so much to them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yeah, moving it shouldn't be a problem. I was more worried that they wouldn't like having a hole in their roof and would go somewhere else, seeing as entrances are usually on the side or bottom. Or that they would get lost in the bee escape and have trouble getting in and out.

I have to be at work all day tomorrow so won't be able to keep an eye on them but am off Friday. Should I wait until my day off before I opened up the entrance (so I could watch them and see if they swarm again or if there are any problems?) Also, their new location would be pretty close to where I caught the swarm at, would that be an issue -- like, would scout bees remember other places that they've been scouting in the area and get all the bees to move there?

I'm planning to put some uncapped brood in there from my other hive since I heard that helps them stay, but if I do that should I feed them to make sure they have enough resource? (Their new location would be close to another hive, which makes me worry about robbing.)

Thanks so much for your answers!
 

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If the bees are currently trapped inside, be sure to put sugar water on them and be sure there is enough ventilation. It would be a shame if they cooked themselves or starved in transit. I assume bees don't like having a hole drilled in their hive, but I do it frequently, and it has never caused a problem.
 

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Once the swarm moves in your box they draw comb at a tremendous rate. The queen will start laying right away as well. If the queen lays eggs the box now becomes home and they will stay put. Once you take the trap down after dark make sure you place the trap in a cool place or in the shade as not to cook them. Ideally you would transfer them into their final hive box in the morning or set them beside the hive and open up their entrance if you can't transfer them right away.
 

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They can be given an entrance by opening the top hole, or putting a stick under the super to prop them up.

Not giving them an entrance would be extremely high risk, I will be interested to hear the outcome of this.

You asked about the risk of them leaving, yes this is now a risk. Because blocked in bees get panicky, I'm not sure what will happen when you open it.

Open or not, it should have something over it to keep the sun off. To stop a new swarm leaving they should be kept in full shade for the first few days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
"You asked about the risk of them leaving, yes this is now a risk. Because blocked in bees get panicky, I'm not sure what will happen when you open it."

Oh dear... it seems I did the exact wrong thing there -- I assumed if I kept them locked up it would give time for them to build comb and the queen to start laying. Anyway, so they did spend all yesterday with their entrance closed (with a bit of screen.)

Anyway, so last night I read that comment saying not to keep them locked up, so early this morning I went and moved the cover back so now there's a one-bee-width opening. It's been cloudy and 55 degrees this morning, so I think the cold and shade works in my favor of keeping them close to home.

I looked outside today. There are about a dozen bees flying around the area where I originally removed the swarm from (maybe scout bees that have orientated to it?) but from what I can tell, everybody else is staying with their temporary home I have for them. I can see bees going out and more importantly back IN to the entrance. So we're not out of the woods yet, but at least they didn't just wake up and leave.

It's supposed to be cold-ish and cloudy tomorrow and rainy the next day so I'm hoping that will keep everyone close to home. (Luckily they will have a more permanent set-up by the time the rain comes.)

Should I feed them? I read that it wouldn't guarantee they'd stay (and most likely they'd just take a rest break, stock up on sugar water, and fly off again) and also they're located next to another hive so I don't want to encourage robbing. If they stick around until the rainy Sunday we're having soon, I'll definitely feed them that day.

Anyway, I'll keep you guys updated. Thanks again for all the advice!!
 

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Sounds great!

Should you feed them? Generally with a new swarm, no, it can do more harm than good. But if it's raining and they are not able to forage, it may be necessary to give them a small amount. The safest way would be take a comb with a little honey from the other hive and give it to the swarm.

And regardless that it's cold, do keep the sun off them if you can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Bit of a non-update (and an unimportant rant) : Things seem to being going fine, as far as the bees are concerned! Bees are happily coming and going. I haven't opened it up yet to check on them, but I might take a peek in a few days.

For the rant: I'm frustrated with Dadant & Sons bee supply. I ordered a top and bottom from them. When I caught the swarm, all I had was a large plastic storage container lid to use as the bottom, and a propped-up bee escape board (with the escape part covered up) to use as the top/entrance. I figured it would do for the 3 - 5 shipping days it would take to get the proper supplies. Well, Dadant didn't even ship it until a couple days ago and the order was incomplete! I didn't get my bottom board or an explanation as to why or if it was going to be coming separately or if I got charged for it or what. Anyway, so at least I currently have a more durable top, but what I really needed was the bottom board. Grrr.. Anyway, so I wrote them an email about that.
 
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