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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The old saying.

A swarm in May is worth a load of hay
A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon
A Swarm in July won't fly

With many keepers making and overwintering NUCs, then is a July swarm still worthless? Now in some areas or in some years you may not get a 5 on 5 NUC ready between Aug. 1st and full on winter but in alot of areas it might work. What do y'all think. Jim
 

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It all depend on how you go into winter with the swarm NUC. A swarm in June may not be a silver spoon if it goes into winter with low stores, old bees, and weak. Compared to a swarm in July that may be worth more than a fly. If it is built up and goes into winter with good stores, young bees, and more than enough to get past the critical mass.
 

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This all depends where you are located. I caught a swarm last October and right now it is the best hive that I have.
Of course I live in Florida where we have not had a winter in several years.
Robert
 

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At the time that saying was born, honey was cheaper than sugar. Bees weren't fed. If they made it, fine. If not, tough. At that time, it was correct in most areas.
 

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Alternative endings to the rhyme ---- "isn't worth a fly" or "let it fly"

I think this comes from a time of skep beekeeping when a July swarm wouldn't produce a crop and was unlikely to survive the winter.

Rules are always broken. :grin:
 

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I am not even certain the clever and rhyming phrase could ever ever have been considered to be a rule.
Unfortunately it's still used to illustrate to beekeepers that late swarms are not worth having. Last fall I attended a bee club meeting where a prominent local beekeeper used that very same poem to tell everyone not to bother with July swarms.
 

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In most locales the major nectar flows by July are either done or approaching done ( depending on the weather dry will end flows faster then rain ) As a very general rule July through August little nectar is flowing, requiring you to really feed up a swarm to really get cooking, if your able to get them going, and the fall flows get started in early September through early November ( depending on locale and weather ) then the late swarm stands a good chance.
Barry
 

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generally late swarm are headed by older queens that may well be on the way to failing. without a doubt in the total population of all bees these are the one that are not quite as robust as the queens that produced early spring swarms.

at this location a swarm in May, June or July will only produce something of a feeding bill and most likely the June and July swarms are in need of requeening (which could produce another bill for some beekeepers).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I guess my point was if you get a late swarm and install it in NUC and feed/build it to a 5 on 5 to over winter rather than trying get it built up to a well stored 10 on 10
 

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Catch a late swarm and feed it a hundred dollars worth of sugar until spring, and hope it makes it, or buy an 80 dollar package in the spring. Not a hard decision to make in my opinion.
 

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One thing i've done with late swarms is, hive it for a few days at a distant location (4 or 5 miles away), then go in to it and find the queen and kill her, then take them home and combined them with a hive that needs more bees. Or you can take them home and combine them and let the queens fight it out, if the home queen is a young queen i would keep her. Jack
 
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