Does this count as capturing a swarm?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by heinleinfan, May 22, 2012.

  1. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    Went today to do some work for someone's hives. One hive has been suriving for 4 years now, no kind of working or maintanence at all, and no honey harvesting. I wanted to get the hive to a workable state today, remove a bunch of burr comb and propolis and so on and so forth.

    So I opened up the existing hive and and immediately thought "wow, this hive is full of bees." So. Many. Bees. I was thinking I would pull some capped brood to put into the newly installed hive (that I had done for them last weekend). I spotted her majesty after only 2 frames, and pulled her frame and put it in an empty box because I was going to be rooting around in this hive for a long time getting it workable again.

    So I'm standing over the box where I had put the queen, talking to the guy I'm helping teach keeping and about what we'll do next to split up the work to get this hive cleaned up....and then, no lie, the hive started to swarm right then. Whole group of them started clouding in front of the hive, and more and more piled out to the entrance and started up the sides. RIGHT THEN! I'm sure they were thinking "well now, wait a minute, our queen was just here all packed and ready, where did she go?"

    I conferred with the owner and we decided to go ahead with a split, to try to establish 3 hives for them. Went through the box and split up food, brood, and tiny brood frames between the two boxes, and left every frame I saw with a queen cell in the original. There were three frames with extremely young brood, swimming in royal jelly, and I gave 2 of those frames to the original, and put one in the new hive. Each hive got set up with 10 fully drawn frames, with about 6 frames of brood in all stages, and the rest food frames, in their bottom box. In each top box, they have 10 old frames, cleaned out well as we could; they're not all down to foundation, they have a bit of comb on some of them.
    .
    Right before closing up, we got the queen from where she'd been waiting and she went into the new hive. We also shook a couple frames of extra bees into the new hive. Then we closed them up, and covered up the new hive entrance with some screen. The owner is going to put out large top feeder pails for them tomorrow (ones that sit on top the inner cover, with access through that inner cover hole), one for each hive. I told him to remove the screen from the entrance of the new hive on Thursday morning; the feeder is big enough to cover the inner lid hole, and will still keep the new hive foragers from getting out until Thursday.

    I'll go back out in a couple of weeks and check on everyone's queens; at this time we now have the original hive with no queen, the new split with the existing queen, and an install from last week (which I checked on and she's out and about, but no brood yet.)

    There is a part of me thinking I could have let them swarm, the hive had PLENTY of population, but this man does want to get up to 5 hives, and so now he has three. Heh! Worst case, around August I'll see how they are all doing and can combine populations if needed before heading into winter, and we'll be back to 2 hives this year as planned.

    Crazy!
     
  2. bamabww

    bamabww New Member

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    Wow! that must have been something to see a "swarm" up close and personal like that! Thanks for sharing what you done and how you done it.
     

  3. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Why feed them? Didn't you give all of them a supply of food? If they swarmed, that is usually a sign that the honey flow is on. They should be able to collect their good, natural, honey-producing nectar from nature's bounty. As I see it, feeding them with syrup is a waste of money, effort and time. :think:
     
  4. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I don't know if 'that' counts but you and Perry just keep on posting these most excellent and descriptive post and Iddee and myself can take a bit of a well deserved rest.

    well done...
     
  5. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    Efmesch - I should clarify on their food frames. In describing the process, and when I was doing the split and teaching the guy with me about it, I call them "food frames" and talked about splitting them up between the hives and such, but they were pretty puny stores. These frames had no capped honey, not even up in the corners of frames, the majority of the cells were bee bread and there wasn't much nectar; they were not "full" of food, they just had a bit of food and no brood on them.
    Around this time of year, I'm used to seeing 2-3 frames per 10-frame box that have a lot of nectar and bread on them, and seeing capped honey and nectar up in all the corners of brood frames, and this hive had nothing like that. Where they are is about an hour and a half from me, and further into the mountains and I just don't think there's much of a flow there yet. Had I been able to give each hive 2-3 frames that actually *were* full of food, I'd not have recommended feeding them.


    Tecumseh - awww, thanks for the compliment!
     
  6. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Heinleinfan: Now I Gotcha :thumbsup:
     
  7. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    Nice catch! That'd be cool to actually see them swarm.
    Is there really nothing blooming in Colorado Springs this time of year? Just curious as I'm from the east.

    There is lots of nectar in all the hives to the point where one of my hives "widened" the comb near all the top bars and stored more honey. Luckily I noticed it yesterday and added a second deep. This hive was a 5 frame nuc I created on 4/29.

    You would think feeding them now would not allow them to adjust their hive configuration/population to match what is going on out in their world. IDK...thinking out loud. I tried feeding earlier this Spring what I thought was a weak hive and it just fermented. Turns out we had another cold snap and the bees were ready for it.
     
  8. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    These hives are further into the mountains, about and hour and a half a way from CoSprings and about another 1500 feet higher...out here that kind of distance and elevation plays a huge factor. For instance, the last frost date for CoSprings is around May 18th. For the town these hives are at, it's around June 25th.
     
  9. jim314

    jim314 New Member

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    Well I would count it and I am totally impressed with you quick thinking of what to do at the spur of the moment when things are happening. I wish I was that clear thinking LOL.
     
  10. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I would count it.
     
  11. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Heinleinfan:
    Great description! :thumbsup: Good job! :thumbsup: Enjoyed the post (almost felt like I was there) :grin:
    I am curious though, why would you screen in the bees until Thursday?
     
  12. Marbees

    Marbees Member

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    Nice catch :goodpost:
     
  13. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    Well, I've always read (and practiced) with a split being set up close, or a hive move, to close them or block the entrance for reinorienting to avoid forager drift. Since I didn't really 'capture' the swarm, and instead kind of stopped it mid process and split it instead, I treated it like a split instead of a swarm.
     
  14. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Got ya. :thumbsup:
    I usually just do the split and shove a bunch of grass or lay some branches across the entrance to make the exiting bees realize something is vastly different and then they reorient. I have never screened in bees for anything longer than a 1, maybe 2 hour trip for pollination, so I wondered. :wink:
     
  15. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    When it's *really* hot and dry, I'll just block the entrance instead of fully trapping them if I have to move a hive. Going to have to move these hives, actually, but not for a few more weeks when their new area in the garden (and inside hopefully bear-proof fencing) is ready. Plus, two of the three queens are young 'uns, and I'm paranoid about *her* being the one getting lost in drift while she's out getting busy!
     
  16. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    "getting busy" :lol: :rolling: :rotfl: