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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Second year hive, booming. One of four. I reversed the hive bodies in February (bottom deep was empty of everything) and opened up the brood nest as best I could with foundation and the empty drawn out deep. Everything looking great. Mid March, both deeps full of bees. Everything looked good. One or two queen cups -empty- and nice drone build up. Through on my first undrawn shallow (9 frame foundation) and let the flow begin. Been checking once a week. Bees are drawing out the shallow, all looks good.

Whammo. Tonight I get home from work and take a quick look at the hives. My hives are all up on cinderbricks. This hive had the insides of 2 cinderbricks swarming Ina large ball of bees. No doubt. They were getting ready to swarm after all my hard work. I quickly grabbed a nuc with just foundation and opened the main hive. Grabbed one frame of capped brood and put it in the nuc. The with no other options, put on my thick gloves and started scooping out bees from inside the cinderblocks and shaking them into the new nuc. I must have pulled out more bees than both my packages from last year. So much for calm swarms. They were not happy. I have no idea if I got the queen or not. When the size of the bees got down the grapefruit size, I put a pollen patty on the nuc frames and slapped on a feeder. I reduced the entrance on the nuc and left it by the cinderblocks hoping the rest of the bees will get inside. Many were starting to go in. I put a little lemongrass oil in the nuc to temp them.

So why did the main hive swarm? I thought I did everything the way everybody says. I'm glad I got them before they left the yard. In suburbia, I don't think it would have gone over well with the neighbors. I have had a bait hive set up in the yard though just in case.

When can I pick up and move the swarm nuc? And how long to wait to check if I got the queen? Never saw any queen cells as of a week ago and I hate to keep digging into the deeps during a flow. Could use any suggestions.

Thanks
 

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Well, bees swarm because that is what the colony's 'prime directive' is. If you think of a colony as a superorganism, the colony goal, given adequate food, is to reproduce. :) Swarming is how a colony reproduces.

Even professional, commercial beekeepers experience swarms. I think you did well to recover the swarm.

If the bees outside the nuc were starting to go in, that suggests the queen may be inside. I'd look to see what is happening in 4-5 days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I could have missed queen cells in the bottom deep. I generally don't dismember the whole hive during an inspection. However, the top deep was full of eggs and brood before I put the shallow on. Btw no queen excluder on the hive.

My concerns are these:
I was so worried that the swarm was going to leave. It was 6 pm and getting dark soon. Do these really leave the hive that late? It's going into the 40s tonight. I would think it would be too cold to be out of a hive at night.
I made the assumption that it was North hive that was swarming since the bee ball was in the blocks directly under it. Is it possible that North hive would let another hive's swarm gather under it? This was no small amount of bees.
Assuming it was North hive, I opened the main hive and grabbed a frame of brood mostly capped. Didn't have time to really inspect it. I was hoping having a frame of its baby bees would keep the swarm in the nuc and not have them take off in the morning. However, since I didn't look at the frame closely during my panic to get the swarm, if it wasn't that hive, I wasn't looking to see if the queen was on it. If it wasn't that hive, I may have two queens in the nuc.
Another thing that worries me is even during that brief opening to get a frame, the main hive still seemed to have a lot of bees. In retrospect, more so than I would expect after gathering up that big of a swarm. Is it possible it will throw off more swarms? How soon? And how to stop them from doing so?
Anyone have a better idea of getting the swarm into the nuc? They were inside the blocks underneath the hive. I couldn't see what I was grabbing with my gloves. Tried my best to be gentle, but I'm sure I squashed more than a few. I'm sure that's what made them mad.

Thx
 

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I could have missed queen cells in the bottom deep. I generally don't dismember the whole hive during an inspection. However, the top deep was full of eggs and brood before I put the shallow on. Btw no queen excluder on the hive.

My concerns are these:
I was so worried that the swarm was going to leave. It was 6 pm and getting dark soon. Do these really leave the hive that late? It's going into the 40s tonight. I would think it would be too cold to be out of a hive at night.
I made the assumption that it was North hive that was swarming since the bee ball was in the blocks directly under it. Is it possible that North hive would let another hive's swarm gather under it? This was no small amount of bees.
Assuming it was North hive, I opened the main hive and grabbed a frame of brood mostly capped. Didn't have time to really inspect it. I was hoping having a frame of its baby bees would keep the swarm in the nuc and not have them take off in the morning. However, since I didn't look at the frame closely during my panic to get the swarm, if it wasn't that hive, I wasn't looking to see if the queen was on it. If it wasn't that hive, I may have two queens in the nuc.
Another thing that worries me is even during that brief opening to get a frame, the main hive still seemed to have a lot of bees. In retrospect, more so than I would expect after gathering up that big of a swarm. Is it possible it will throw off more swarms? How soon? And how to stop them from doing so?
Anyone have a better idea of getting the swarm into the nuc? They were inside the blocks underneath the hive. I couldn't see what I was grabbing with my gloves. Tried my best to be gentle, but I'm sure I squashed more than a few. I'm sure that's what made them mad.

Thx
If you got most of the swarm into the nuc, and set it close to where they were, the queen with probably go in.
 

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I'm in my second year as well, and I'm concerned that I'm going to experience the same thing.....

I can say this, the temperature tonight would not have hindered the bees in the least little bit. My first hive of bees last year was a swarm that I got from a beek that I know. At the time I didn't own a bee hive, so he let me borrow and old one he had in his shed. The bees didn't like the old junky hive and absconded. It was during a cold snap. I didn't find the swarm for 2 days, and they were in a brush pile 100 feet from the hive. They had spent two nights there and the lows were in the low 30's. I put them in a new hive, with one frame of drawn comb and they did fine after that. A big ball of bees, generate a lot of heat.

One thing I would be concerned about if I were in your shoes, is will a swarm the size you describe feel too cramped in a nuc? I would put them in a regular hive body if you have one.
 

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Are you even sure it is a swarm from one of your hives? I have an old fence post about 18 feet in front of my main apiary every year I gather several swarms from it. sometimes they are from my hives, sometimes not. Just sayin!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Without going through all the hives, I can't be sure it's mine. I just assumed it was since it was directly underneath North hive. Anybody have any experience where a hive lets a big swarm ball right under it?
On the other hand, North hive was packed with bees when I opened it. Won't know until I dig into all of the main hives.
 

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Without going through all the hives, I can't be sure it's mine. I just assumed it was since it was directly underneath North hive. Anybody have any experience where a hive lets a big swarm ball right under it?
On the other hand, North hive was packed with bees when I opened it. Won't know until I dig into all of the main hives.
Its common for a hive to swarm to the underside of the stand and even start building comb.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well now I'm officially confused. Went through all 4 hives and their all bursting with bees. No signs of swarm cells on any of the top deeps in any of the hives. Worst I found were a couple of queen cups. I'm starting to think this is a feral swarm I caught underneath North hive.

Question for the experienced beeks out their. Is it fairly obvious to tell if a hive swarmed? If it was one of mine, wouldn't I see swarm cells in my hives? And shouldn't you be able to tell if hive population went down? This was not a small swarm. Bigger than a basketball, smaller than a full size watermelon. I am afraid that they've filled the nuc completely, but I want to give them some time before moving them to a deep. I was just surprised that one hive would let a feral swarm that big gather under it without seeing some fighting going on.
 

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I don't have an answer for the rest of your questions, but if you want to give the swarm more space without disturbing them, just put another nuc body on top of the existing one. :)
 

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the bees do not fight when they are in hives palletized side bay side and back to back, why would below be any different. I have had wild swarms riche against the screened Bottom board of a thriving hive with no resistance from the hive. as long as the strangers do not try to enter the hive there is no problem. Usually You can detect a noticeable difference in the population of a hive that has swarmed.
 

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A bunch of bees on the outside of a hive is not a swarm. It's a beard. Rarely you see a usurpation where a swarm moves into a hive and takes it over, but there is usually fighting in this case.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfaqs.htm#bearding
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
If there's one thing I'm very sure of, this was not a bearding. I've seen my bees beard and it's nothing like this. This was clearly a swarm. It was a ball of bees. A BiG ball of bees.
This is what it looked liked halfway done
image.jpg
 

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If there's one thing I'm very sure of, this was not a bearding. I've seen my bees beard and it's nothing like this. This was clearly a swarm. It was a ball of bees. A BiG ball of bees.
This is what it looked liked halfway done
View attachment 10029
Just for future reference, the next time you try to catch a swarm that is hard to get or on the ground, just set the mouth of your box in the edge of the bees and tap the box with your hive tool. The bees will go into the box and this reduces the chance of injuring the queen if she is there. Be sure to leave the box there for a day or two before moving it. We catch a lot of swarms here in FL. this time of year. Also, make sure these swarms are at least beach ball size, smaller swarms are probably mating queens and will go back to the hive even if you catch the virgin. Better to only have one queen-less hive.
 

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Yes, it looks like a cluster of bees and not just bearding. I would put them in an empty hive and see what happens. Probably the simplest is to move the hive off the blocks, (or if you have help tip the hive away from the block and swap the block for another block) lift the concrete block where they are, and knock them into an empty hive. Since they probably marked the block with pheromones, I'd put a different block back under the hive so if they congregate on the block again, I don't have to move the hive again...
 

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I love swarms, if I am lucky enough to see them come out I hive the swarm and put it back on the old stand, they do great I have another stand of bees
 

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If there's one thing I'm very sure of, this was not a bearding. I've seen my bees beard and it's nothing like this. This was clearly a swarm. It was a ball of bees. A BiG ball of bees.
This is what it looked liked halfway done
View attachment 10029
One of my first swarms did exactly what your picture shows. Plus a second ball of bees was hanging low in a nearby tree. I shook the ball from the tree limb into a box. Then I went after the bees inside the cinder block with a gloved hand, and as you say, so much for calm swarms. I was horrorfied by the hundrends of stingers in my gloves; several of them getting through to skin. Oh well, I scooped out what a could and put them in the box with the other bees. That swarm made a really good colony.

Anyway, swarms happen despite your best efforts; nothing to feel bad about. There is a bright side too, if you catch your own swarm, you just got a split from the main hive with very little effort or worry on your part. I have reduced the number of swarms in my hives, but I still catch some in a cherry tree that is right by my hives. They seem to like to congregate on that tree for a while before they move on, so I keep an eye on it on a daily basis.
 

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Yes, that does look like a swarm. So you did good by getting it in a box.

Yes, if the swarm came from one of your hives there could be after swarms with virgins as they hatch out. After I find a hive that has swarmed I will either destroy most of the queen cells or try and move them to other hives if I need queens. By getting rid of all but, a couple of the best cells you cut down on the after swarms.

Yes, and No on being able to tell if a hive has swarmed. Just by looking at the number of bees in a hive NO, you can't go by that because there normally is still loads of bees in a hive that swarmed. If you look through a hive and find queen cells some hatched and some chewed out on the side you can assume the hive swarmed. So yes you can tell, just don't be miss led by the amount of bees in the hive.

If you go through your hives you should be able to find the one that swarmed if you pull frames from the brood nest you will find queen cells on multiple frames. Most of the time they will also be in different stages, some may even still be open, not capped yet, while others maybe almost ready to hatch.

It is very hard to keep hives from swarming. They are like teen aged boys, they only have one thing on there mind during the spring. It is even harder when you don't have drawn out supers to work with. They don't look at frames of foundation the same as they do drawn comb. So don't beat yourself up it sounds like you did about all you could do short of splitting the queen into a nuc a few weeks before swarm season.
 
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