Three new swarms, how do I know if they're queen right?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Kevin, Oct 11, 2012.

  1. Kevin

    Kevin New Member

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    So I hived three new swarms last night, not quite sure whats happening though. The first swarm captured was doing well in their makeshift house for the first two days before I hived them, they even started making comb.

    The second box was doing ok, few bees were coming in and out but didn't see any pollen going in.

    The third box never emerged at all in two days, there were about 30 drones trying to get out through the queen excluder though.

    So last night I popped them all into their new homes with foundation frames.

    Hive one was massive,
    Hive two had less bees
    and hive three even less about the size of two apples Id say......

    Now if I couldnt see the queen and still haven't seen any of my queens, how would I know if the hives have queens?

    None of the bees took the sugar syrup that was outside their box.

    Your insight would be great guys.....

     
  2. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    Swarms

    Your largest swarm sounds like a 'prime' swarm. This is the first swarm to leave a colony and carries with it the 'old' queen. Swarms like this have a strong urge to build comb and the queen will soon start to lay. If you have given the swarm a drawn comb, this is the place to look for her (only if you need to --- if they are working well do not disturb).

    Your other two swarms could be 'casts'. The size of the smallest certainly indicates a 'cast'. 'Casts' are small swarms thrown by a colony when the Q cells hatch. A cast can hold one or more virgins. Some colonies can throw cast after cast until there is nothing left ---- swarmed to death.

    In my apiary, I would throw the two smaller swarms together. Let the virgins fight it out. I would not restrict the entrance with an excluder ----- the virgin needs to come and go for mating flights.

    My bees are Apis mellifera mellifera so bear that in mind when reading this post.
     

  3. Kevin

    Kevin New Member

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    Kevin....
    Would it be ok if I didn't join them? I would prefer the extra hive as I only have a few. Ill remove the excluder form the other small swarm now....
     
  4. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    Hey Kevin,

    As barbarian said, I'd combine the two small swarms. Since it's still been less than 24 hours (I think, looking at posting times) you should be able to combine them without any extra steps, just put all of them in a box together, they should still recognize one another as hive mates. Then you can check that box in a few days for behavior and a queen.
     
  5. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    I would inspect the parent hives to make sure they are not going to continue to cast after swarms, ( after swarms are lead by virgin queens, and are considerably smaller then the primary swarm ). All swarms will work with vigor to establish a colony quickly, difference being that the primary swarm has so many more workers to work with that they will have no issues developing a new hive. The smaller ones being so much smaller will have to work so much harder to accomplish the same and take more time in doing so--colony development is a matter of math not magic--virgin queens may take as long as 3 weeks to get fully mated, and another 2 weeks to get in a solid egg laying pattern. 21 days later the first new workers make the scene to start indoor work so 3 months will pass before the first foragers will start gathering nectar--in 3 month what will be blooming in your area, if like here in the US there will be a 1 - 2 month period when little to nothing will be producing nectar. If your bees haven't gathered enough honey and pollen to get past this dearth of honey, the queen stops or dramatically reduces, laying eggs ( not enough incoming food to support large brood patterns, and large worker force at same time ) African Bees are prone to abscond anyway when forage gets scarce so feeding them MAY help avoid absconding. As for using queen excluders under brood chambers, that work ONLY if the resident is mated and laying, otherwise your trapping the virgin queen inside preventing her from mating if trapped long enough she will not ever mate and become a drone layer--if that happens in short order your hive will be hopelessly queenless. as they will try to replace her but having no larvae of proper age and no worker brood at all unless re-queened promptly and the resident queen removed prior to replacing her ( say about 24 hours or alittle more time so they know their queenless) ---the only other option is to combine with another colony as a boost.
    Barry
     
  6. jb63

    jb63 New Member

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    I caught an oct. swarm last yr.Since they didn't have built up stores, I piled sugar on the inner cover.By the time march arrived they were so light I put them in a nuc. with a frame feeder.Now they are two deeps.
     
  7. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    You can confirm you have a queen by inspecting for eggs layed in a good pattern. the one swarm I have captured I was able to confirm the queen was there in 48 hours.
     
  8. Kevin

    Kevin New Member

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    The parent swarm is not actually mine and is in the ground somewhere, won't be too easy t inspect, however I may remove it and hive it :)

    We are in the binning of spring now and should have flowers till April next year so I think Ill leave them separate and see how they get along.

    All that bothers me is that the one swarm is not really venturing out the hive.

    Its else been nearly three days since they were captured....so there will be much fighting if I join them now.

    All Im not sure about is, they were all captured within 20m from each other, could they actually have been one swarm?
     
  9. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    As Barbarian said, the first (largest) swarm probably has the mated queen. Check the hive for eggs any time you want. They should show up as soon as the bees have built combs. Swarms 2 and 3 probably have virgin queens and you can't expect to find eggs until they have mated and developed. I would say that you should find eggs on inspection within 2 weeks, considering where you are.

    So how do you know if there are virgin queens in the two small hives, if you can't even expect to find eggs? Observe the bee's behavior. If they are building combs, seem purposeful in their behavior (are collecting nectar and pollen) and are calm in the hive, than you probably have queens. If the bees are irritable, make a loud buzzing hum when you open the hive and seem to be running around (instead of being busily at work), then your swarm probably doesn't have a queen. Mind you though, when a virgin queen leaves the hive to go out on her mating flights, the bees at home can be "nervous" till her return. Remember that every development of the family will be much slower in the small swarm. Development time of individual bees will be the same, but the build up (comb construction, nectar and pollen collection, population growth) will be slow.
     
  10. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    A swarm, generally is rather docile, until they either have brood to protect, or run out of honey to build wax comb with, then they will rather quickly escort you out of the area. If your bees are quietly working inside, but are at least starting to collect pollen and nectar I would not be overly concerned. With regards to the parent colony--yeah they certainly could have been the one casting all the small after-swarms take pictures if you decide to capture the parent colony actually they should be weak from all the swarming still willing to fight but maybe not too terrible lol just bring the smoke and fully suit up..good luck and remember the sting swabs.
    Barry
     
  11. Kevin

    Kevin New Member

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    I have so much to learn! My my my,So I have let them to their own devices for the time being! A few drones and ladies from the big swarm slept outside last night, not sure why, I believe its because the drones blocked the entrance, there is limited space for them to get in and out at the moment as I have a queen excluder on the entrance to get them settled in. I hope they are ok, its not too cold at night.THe other two swarms are still not moving much from their hives.....And in three days none of them have take any sugar syrup from the outside feeder.
     
  12. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    Feeding

    May I suggest you read the 101 thread 'Help, Robbing.........' 10/03/12.

    If I were feeding your hives, I would use a plastic bucket type of feeder with small holes (or gauze) in the lid. This can be inverted over the hole in the top cover and enclosed in an empty brood or super box ------ you only want the bees in the hive to have access to the syrup. Such a feeder can be refilled without disturbing the hive ---- slide a piece of tile/slate over the inner cover feed hole.

    If you go this way, start off with a small amount of syrup in the feeder. Where there is temperature variation you can get a pump-like action forcing the syrup out of the feeder.
     
  13. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a snip...
    And in three days none of them have take any sugar syrup from the outside feeder.

    a Barbarian snip....
    If you go this way, start off with a small amount of syrup in the feeder.

    tecumseh...
    no matter what kind of feeder you use Barbarian's advice is well stated.

    your comment suggest there is enough going on outside the hive that the sugar water is just not attractive. since sugar water has no smell it 'should be' the least preferred option.
     
  14. Kevin

    Kevin New Member

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    I ll remove the feed, there must be enough around for them.

    The first hive is now empty.....
    The second hive is still not venturing out
    The third hive is buzzing but a lot of bees congregating outside so Ive given them a bigger entrance and removed the lid and put some gauze on the inner covers whole for some ventilation, thought it may be to moist inside and thats why they are outside. I found a bee half dead that could have been a queen, but I have no Idea what she would look like and why she should be dead on the bottom board of the busy hive......hmmmmmm
     
  15. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    Once you've seen a queen mated or otherwise you can never mistake her for another. Fully mated, laying queens are quite distinctive unmated queens or queens not laying yet are a bit more difficult to find in the throng of bees milling around, coupled with the fact young queens tend to run a lot. Kevin, what type of hive are you using? Top bar hives or langthroth hives? management issues vary according to which you use, as does any equipment we may suggest.
    Barry
     
  16. Kevin

    Kevin New Member

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    I really wait for the day I get to see one of my ladies....
    Im keeping Langstroth hives.

    So of the two hives left, I have removed the queen excluder this evening and opening up, they have started drawing comb, but started on the side this time with the makeshift frames so won't be able to build full a its just a bar to hang on. The hive is really full but Im sure they will be fine.
    The second hive is a small swarm, they have also started to drawn the comb, does that mean there is a queen present?

    My well established hive hasn't done much with their super, Im still waiting for honey, how long should it take with a medium flow?
     
  17. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    Location

    Your over-wintered hive at the farm absconded in your Spring. I gather that other bees that you have taken to the farm have also gone. It seems like there may be something in the conditions at the farm that the bees don't like.

    The 'wild' colony in town will have survived the winter. It then managed to build up and produce a large swarm (and a couple of casts ). This suggests that the conditions in town are more suitable for the bees. You may have more success with an apiary in or on the edge of town. Over the last few months there have been several threads relating to keeping bees in towns.

    You were alerted to the large swarm by another beekeeper. A visit to his/her apiary may give you ideas as to how best to keep bees locally.
     
  18. Kevin

    Kevin New Member

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    I agree, however there are thousands of wild honey bees around all the waterholes...interesting and surely favorable in some way?

    I am in close contact with him, his town is similar to mine, 30km away...His is working fine with syrup support.
     
  19. Clover Queen Bee

    Clover Queen Bee New Member

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    I may be mistaken... and please, someone correct me if Im wrong, but I think all swarms are ´queen right´, as that is the nature of a swarm, ie. leaving the hive with a new queen to expand, or the old one because they dont like the present hive and are moving on...
     
  20. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    No correction clover queen bee, swarms leave with the queen, only the prime swarm has the old mated queen. All secondary or cast swarms leave the hive with virgin queens.