Smallest swarm ever and queenless?

Discussion in 'Swarms, Cut outs, and Trap outs' started by bamabww, Aug 21, 2013.

  1. bamabww

    bamabww Active Member

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    I got a call about a swarm of bees at a local park and went to check it out. The park caretaker said they had been there for "a couple of days" that he knew of. It was so small in number that I set the box on the tailgate of my truck and examined the bees intending on showing the park caretaker the queen. I couldn't find her. I looked and looked again and never found her. I went back to the tree and they were several stragglers that I missed still on the limb but no queen. I looked all over the tree and on the ground around it but never found her majesty.

    When I got them home, I looked again and still no queen. I don't know how but I figure she went missing after they landed on the tree. Went back to the tree late afternoon and still only a few stragglers I missed originally. Any one ever see a swarm without a queen?

    I carried them to my weakest swarm I caught last week and dumped them in the far side of the hive away from the other bees. I watched them for several minutes wondering what would happen when the two different colonies met. Nothing. They crawled around, met, hesitated for a second and then went on their way checking out their new home. I had given the swarm in the box a quart of sugar water and they had barely touched it. 4 hours later after combing the swarms, it was almost 75% gone. So the new girls were hungry it seems. Maybe beefing up for the takeover, I don't know but hopefully to draw out some comb and gather some winter feed.
     

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  2. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    Just speculation.

    1. The swarm could be a cast with an elusive virgin.

    2. The original swarm on the branch could have flown. What you have could be lost stragglers/foragers/scouts who are attracted by the scent left behind when the main swarm departed.
     

  3. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    My first thought was Barbarians second one.
     
  4. Lburou

    Lburou Member

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    Wayne, the more I work with bees, the less I am surprised about this kind of surprise. :)

    I hope you won't mind my sharing the story of this week's soft ball sized swarm with four queens in it. I noticed some bearding over the entrance of a mini mating NUC, but didn't look inside for two days. That NUC had no queen and enough bees to cover three half sized deep frames before the other bees arrived. When I decided to investigate those bearded bees, I found all four frames full of bees with additional bees that would cover another two frames doing the bearding. I found three small balls of bees, rescued queens from each of them (with several stings to my fingers), but they all died within 24 hours. One mated queen (and eggs) turned up in that mating NUC the next day.

    My theory is that the small swarm arrived with three or four virgin queens, one mated and returned first and the others were balled in the act of accepting the newly mated queen. The hole in my theory is that the mini NUC was a week overdue for the appearance of a mated queen, and that mated queen could have been in there before the other bees arrived -but I did not see her after several looks to see. :)
     
  5. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    wayne my thoughts, like perry, are also what barbarian said:
    "The original swarm on the branch could have flown. What you have could be lost stragglers/foragers/scouts who are attracted by the scent left behind when the main swarm departed."

    from your picture the swarm was so small. think of this in terms of capturing a swarm where you know you have the queen, bees and incoming bees will fly back and cluster to the branch/branches while collecting, during and after you have collected them; until you wait long enough, shake them down, etc...; the bees fan, "here is where home is now"; they march in or slowly figure it out....... and have you ever gone back to the original site you took a swarm from, to find a small 'swarm' of bees clinging to wherever you took them from? these are, as barbarian said, stragglers, foragers, scouts, attracted by the scent left behind, and the last place that was 'home' to them, although temporary.

    good luck to you on overwintering your combined swarms. maybe this small swarm was the boost the other swarm needed, and maybe this small swarm was the boost your recent swarm needed.....:grin:
     
  6. bamabww

    bamabww Active Member

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    Thanks to all of you for your comments. I would never have figured out this was the stragglers etc. Combining this small group with my other small swarm has really increased their take of sugar water. Almost 3 quarts in 24 hours.