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If I happen to catch a swarm, do I treat it as I would a package, or as a more established colony, given their numbers? And do you medicate them, or leave them alone the first year? Thanks for any advice.
 

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I'd treat them like a package, feed them till they get some comb built and are bringing in stores...if you have brood comb, frames of honey to give them that'll help a lot.
 

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I treat any colony that is less than a deep and a medium as a starter. I say that because I captured swarm last summer that filled two deeps. So I have just set some guidelines according to size and strength that determines what is a starter and what is a production colony. once it is 2 boxes full it is a production hive. Some of my swarms, I captured 13 of them last year, never made it to being production colonies last year. others where at production strength in 6 to 8 weeks. One, the large one, actually attempted to swarm again. I was able to harvest a medium of honey from them by the end of the season. I never treated that huge swarm like a starter becasue it never acted like a starter.

I was very fortunate with the first swarm I ever captured. I placed it in a top bar hive that was mounted on a stand with a screen bottom. I was able to observe this swarm through that screen every day. Now nearly all beekeepers are familiar with the cluster a swarm makes. but I am not sure how many realize that cluster does not stop when they find a cavity to build in. the cluster simply moves. but the bees remain. clustered. It is in the center of this cluster they begin to build a comb. As this comb is enlarged they will start adjacent combs. the entire comb network expands and the queen is actually filing every cell with brood. it is not until that brood emerges that bees will start using any of that comb for stores. all resources go toward building comb or producing brood and feeding the members of the colony. I was not able to actually see comb for almost three weeks. it was entirely concealed by the cluster.

Since then I have been aware of what I now call, clustering on the comb, behavior of a immature colony. It is one of the significant behaviors I watch for to determine when a colony has matured. A starter or immature colony will be clustered. an immature one will not. I have observed it time and tie again. place even a large swarm in a box full of already drawn comb. and at least for a short period of time they will pick a location. usually some corner and cluster in it. Over time the queen is in that cluster laying as the brood space expands the bees spread out. but they will not break up this cluster. In the case of a mated queen in a box with a large swarm and all drawn comb. this may take only days.

The huge swarm I captured never clustered. They went directly to building a proper brood nest and within a week I had 7 nearly perfectly filled frames of brood and the nicest brood nest I have seen in any hive. The queen then moved up to the next box and eventually had 12 frames of brood. Within weeks that colony had 4 boxes and produced a medium of honey for me to harvest. In comparison to my first swarm. it spent an entire summer and never reached production strength. It nearly failed over winter and was re queened the following spring. it completely built out the top bar last Summer and I actually took a couple of frames of honey from it.

How you manage a swarm can vary widely. But as a rule treat it like a starter or package. Watch for that clustering effect. I personally think it is one of the most reliable indications of just where a colony is and what they are ready for. Also notice as the cluster breaks up the bees begin to gain attitude. To me that is actually a welcome sign. it means the bees are moving out of mere attempting to survive to having built a hive and defending it.
 

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Boardman feeder above the inner cover???
Sure, why not?
Real simple... just place another empty medium or deep body on top of the inner cover (notch down) and then your top cover. Or just place your feeder jar over the hole in the inner cover.
Keeps robbing down to a minumum or prevents it alltogether.

These two hives on the right are fed this way. Notice the inner cover between supers.
1796416_284155345074686_165118795_n.jpg
 

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Swarm bees have their bellies full of nectar so that when they find a place to call home, they are full and ready to draw wax right away. Treat them as a swarm, hive them on foundation or foundationless frames to they will draw right away. Swarms are a very good way to get comb drawn. If you give them any drawn comb, they will deposit their bellies into the drawn comb instead of drawing wax right away. As they draw the comb, it gives the queen a chance to come into laying condition as well. So, I hive them on foundation, and give them a feeder to keep them drawing, if I'm not in a strong nectar flow at the moment.
 

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If I happen to catch a swarm, do I treat it as I would a package, or as a more established colony, given their numbers? And do you medicate them, or leave them alone the first year? Thanks for any advice.
What I have been doing is catching as many as possible. I do not medicate them and there is no need to feed them. As long as they don't come from someone's fed colony a feral hive won't swarm until there is a good likelihood of a flow. I don't feed or treat. I lose about half the first year swarms on a normal year. After that losses go down. You will find that bees from different locations will look and survive a little differently. I trap over 5 counties in Indiana. 65% of my established colonies come from 1 township in 1 county. They are just more hardy.

Just jump in... You are probably going to have fun and catch bees.
 

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Proof is better. This is the hiving of 1203 back in 2012.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TkBnka_1wI&feature=youtube_gdata_player
The only difference in what I do now is that I hive the bees in the top box of a stack of 3 deeps. The bottom 2 deeps are full of foundationless frames.
Here is a picture of 1203 on 2/18/14. All that poo showered all over the front of the hive means they are still alive. They were never fed or treated.

Swarms from good stock don't need feeding. If they came from a feral hive no one fed them, and they were hardy enough to swarm. It takes an industrious healthy hardy feral hive to swarm. Besides... You catch them for free.... No need to start dumping money into them.
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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I usually give a swarm a frame of open brood to anchor them, and a frame of honey so they have some stores to work with if it rains for a few days and they can't forage and then I leave them alone. I guess if you think treating is important you'll have to sort that out. I never treat any of them, swarms or established colonies...
 

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I agree with Ray that swarms are the best way to get drawn comb. I almost always hive them on just foundation.
 
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