Swarm-Crazy Hive

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Tia, Apr 25, 2012.

  1. Tia

    Tia New Member

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    Have a hive that swarmed. . .into my old faithful wax myrtle. . .easy rehive. Then they swarmed again. . .in the woods, but still a relatively easy rehive. . .or so I thought. Dropped them into the box but as soon as they hit the box, they started leaving and regrouped higher up--out of my reach. I set up 3 swarm traps, but after a while they all went back home to the original hive! Yesterday they swarmed again. . .this time a smaller swarm. . .went to the wax myrtle, hung out for a bit and once again, returned to the original hive! What's going on there? I haven't been into the hive since the first time it swarmed because I've been taught to leave a virgin queen alone for 17 days after a swarm to give her time to (a) hatch (b) become accustomed to the hive, (c)make her virgin flights and finally (d) start laying.
    Anybody have any idea why they keep swarming and returning? My first thought is the queen isn't leaving, but twice? Does this mean I probably have more than one queen in the hive? There's nobody dead at the door.
    Thoughts, please.
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    The mailbox swarm I posted about swarmed and returned one week before I caught it and it stayed. I have caught two swarms from that tree since then and watched a fourth return to the tree. The last one was today. I'm waiting to see how many more emerge.

    PS. They swarm approx. day 13 of the queen cell cycle. You then have a day or two to check the hive safely before the new queen emerges. That is a good time to harvest queen cells to start nucs if you want to do splits. Just be sure and leave 2 or 3 in the swarmed hive.
     

  3. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    Tia, next time they swarm and you re-hive them, drop a frame of eggs or brood from the original hive in the new one, they'll stay.
     
  4. jim314

    jim314 New Member

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    Excellent advice !
     
  5. Tia

    Tia New Member

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    I don't think I'm phrasing my question correctly. I want your opinions as to why they are swarming and then returning rather than staying in the new box or going somewhere else. I've had swarms refuse a new home before, but they usually fly out into the woods never to be seen again. This is the first time I've had swarms return home! Twice! Do they keep losing the queen when they cluster? Are they leaving the hive without the queen, so they're returning? Any other thoughts?
     
  6. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    The queen fails to leave is most times the cause. I suppose the weather or other things could intervene at times.
     
  7. Tia

    Tia New Member

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    Thanks, Wally. Why do you suppose she's not leaving? Twice? I actually took the robber screen off to make her exit easier, but it doesn't seem to have solved the problem. So do you think it's safe for me to go into this hive? I've been putting if off because it's my understanding that if you bother a virgin queen she can fly off and not return.
     
  8. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    My guess is there are 3 or 4 queens in there. I would go in and see. I wouldn't stop looking when I found the first one. Then I would make an "artificial swarm" if I found more than one queen or a queen and queen cells.
     
  9. kebee

    kebee Active Member

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    Ok, just how do you made an artificial swarm, I never heard of this.

    kebee
     
  10. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    Kebee,

    You've probably heard it referred to as splitting a hive.
     
  11. Tia

    Tia New Member

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    Thanks again! Will do tomorrow, weather permitting. In the meantime, it looks like a swarm has either moved into or is scouting one of my swarm traps! Hard to tell 'cause it was so windy yesterday, but will check back today when I get home for lunch. My beeyard is burgeoning! It's been quite a swarm season!
     
  12. bwwertz

    bwwertz New Member

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    Tia, is the swarm season mostly over here in our area (I'm in Stella)? I would love to put out a trap, but my brain has difficulty believing that if I don't see any bees around swarming, then I won't "catch" anything. I have a lemongrass oil to use as well, just don't know where to set the trap and how many frames of old comb to put it in. I've read 2 frames in a nuc.
     
  13. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    You are guaranteed to NOT catch a swarm if you don't try. Set the trap anywhere out of the way, facing south to east, as high as easily obtained. Remembering that you have to take it down when it is heavy.
     
  14. Tia

    Tia New Member

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    bwwertz, swarm season will continue here through at least the end of May. This has been a record-breaking swarm season in our area and it doesn't seem to be slowing any. I have 3 swarm traps on my property that I check on a daily basis. I'm fortunate that my own bees seem to always swarm to the wax myrtle directly in front of my beeyard.