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Hello,

I live in Oakland, CA. It has been warm and temperate with flowers blooming here all winter, but has been especially sunny and warm this last week.

I've had a hive for about 9 months, so this is my first time beekeeping in the spring. My hive was originally caught as a swarm by a beekeeper friend in my area. It has one deep brood box and two supers (one extremely full and one about half full).

Last week I went into the hive and saw that the brood box was overcrowded and the bees were laying drones in burr comb and making swarm cells. (Amazing how fast this happened...they'd had plenty of room only 2 weeks earlier.) I was planning to put a 2nd brood box on the hive today to give them more room, but instead they swarmed today.

The swarm settled into a bee ball in my neighbor's rosemary bush, just on the other side of the fence. The neighbors told me they'd ALSO seen a swarm yesterday, when I was at work. No idea where that one went.

I cut off the rosemary branch that was covered in bees and put it into a Tupperware box (I had to walk around the block to get it back to my yard, so I needed a sealed box). Once I was home, I shook the bees out of the Tupperware and into the brood box full of empty frames that I'd originally bought for the old hive. The new box was near the old hive (5ft away?). I covered it with a top board and left to go buy a bottom board for it.

By the time I got back (20min later), the new hive was empty of bees and there was a beard of bees totally covering the front of the old hive's brood box and the ground in front of it. No swarming-in-the-air behavior though. There were still a few bees buzzing around my neighbor's yard where the swarm had landed, but no sign of a queen or another bee ball there.

I didn't know what to do - I felt like I needed to do *something* but didn't have time to research it. I decided that maybe the swarm was trying to rejoin the old hive, and that I should split the two hives. So I moved 4 brood frames to the new hive.

I couldn't find a queen in either hive or in the bee-beard on the front, which worries me. I was really flustered at the time, and now I can't remember if I saw any new eggs in the frames I moved. There were definitely uncapped larvae in there tho.

I left the supers on the old hive and am feeding the new hive with sugar syrup.

So, my questions are:
-Why would a swarm leave a new hive immediately after being placed there?
-Does it seem plausible that the swarm actually was trying to rejoin the old hive? (It doesn't really make sense why they would want to...)
-What should I have done differently in this situation?
-Is there anything else I should do now/soon in order to make the best of this situation?

Thanks!
 

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I'm new to swarm catching, but it seems like you did every thing right. Moving forward worse case you don't have a queen in one of the hives. Are there swarm cells in both hives? I'd either check for swarm cells right away or wait a couple of days, 8 days, after that it should be easy to spot open brood which would indicate a queen even if you can't find her. If not transfer a frame with eggs from one hive to the lacking hive so the can raise an emergency queen.
 

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So, my questions are:
-Why would a swarm leave a new hive immediately after being placed there?
-Does it seem plausible that the swarm actually was trying to rejoin the old hive? (It doesn't really make sense why they would want to...)
-What should I have done differently in this situation?
-Is there anything else I should do now/soon in order to make the best of this situation?

Thanks!
Queens can be awfully hard to spot in a swarm sometimes.

1 & 2 - Sometimes swarms return to the parent hive, it's like the queen can't make up her mind to leave. I would look for them to probably reswarm again tomorrow or Sunday.
3 - Keep some cardboard office file storage boxes around for temporary holding swarms, bees need a lot of ventilation. And always have a couple of spare empty hives around.
4 - I would put the 4 frames of brood back in the parent colony. Keep a close watch tomorrow.

Luck. ....Don
 

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Just a suggestion, if the bearding is still going on tomorrow, spray the outside bees with sugar water and brush them into a cardboard box. Add another brood box to what you have and dump the bees into it. Put a queen excluder across the entrance so the queen cant get out (if she is in there). Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not.
 
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