Trouble Catching Swarm

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Dbure, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    Well, looks like today was as good as any to attempt dealing with my first ever swarm.:roll: Has anyone ever tried getting a swarm off a chainlink fence with razor wire around the top? It seems the swarm I am trying to catch has put themselves on both sides of the fence behind where I work. I went around to the other side where there seemed to be the largest clump and shook them off into a box by shaking the fence. I had to leave the box out there on the ground because half of the bees are still crawling around.

    Can anyone tell me if there is an easy way to determine if the queen is in the box? Wouldn't the others walk right on in? I tried that approach before shaking them off and placed the box up next to them by propping a hive box on a cart with some boxes underneath it to raise it up to them and they did not want to take their marching orders. :rules:

    Am I doing something wrong?:confused: I guess I'd better head back out there and check on things.
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Keep at it. If they start fanning at the entrance to your box, you've probably got the queen and the rest will soon follow. If you don't and she's still on the fence, they will return there. If she is on the ground, they will go there. Keep your eyes on any area that they seem to be accumulating.
     

  3. Indiana Dave

    Indiana Dave New Member

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    Sounds like you did all you could do, short of using a beevac. If most of the bees go in the box, my bet is that she's in there too... Keep us posted!
     
  4. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    I hate to shake bees into the grass. An old sheet works great to shake them onto, you can see them more clearly and loose less in the grass.

    I have collected a swarm by taking old drawn comb and putting it up next to them, they will walk over onto it. Takes a little time and you have to be patient also.

    A little smoke will get them moving in what ever direction you want, just be careful or they will take to the air if you over do it.

    Bee vac would also work on them.

    As far as the queen, like Perry said, just watch for where the masses go and you will find her.
     
  5. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    I finally got them.:yahoo:
    They did all return to the fence and like Perrybee said, the others returned to her. We went back out with an old nuc box and I held it under them while my husband shook the fence twice and they all fell in. The rest followed. Thank you all so very much for helping me with recognizing what was going on.

    :thumbsup:The nuc box has a few empty frames in there but nothing else. Should I wait until morning to try and feed them and set them up in a regular hive box? If I put them in a new hive box should there be a small opening left for them to come and go through or would you keep it closed off for a day until they get use to their new surroundings? I have a screen top that would allow air if need be.
     
  6. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    Mess too much with a new swarm and you'll be waiving goodbye to them as they abscond. Move them to a regular hive box only if you absolutely must (too many bees in the swarm to fit in the nuc), otherwise, wait a week at minimum before doing it. Or, if you have another colony that you can steal a frame of eggs from, you can put those in the new box without any workers from the other hive, then put these bees in the new box and as long as they accept the eggs as their own they won't leave. But about 20% of the time that I do that, the swarm doesn't take care of the eggs.

    I wouldn't seal them in for any longer than it took to drive them home. You want to convince them that the home they are in is suitable and you wouldn't want to stay in a home with no way in or out, right? Plus they'll need to get out to get water and to thermoregulate the hive, even if you feed them in the hive they need to get out for those things as well as to take cleansing flights.
     
  7. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    I would stick them in the regular hive box with all frames tomorrow after it warms up, give them a little syrup. No need to close them up for a few days or a screened top. They were looking for a new home when they swarmed and you gave them one. The only way they will learn there surroundings is by flying.
     
  8. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    There are quite a few bees in the nuc box, too many to put more than a few frames in so I know that I am going to have to set them into a regular brood box tomorrow morning. I know what you mean Bens-Bees about messing with them too much. I try and do as little as required with my other hives for that very reason.

    I figure that in the morning I will set them in the bigger box with a frame feeder and some syrup. If I can rob a frame of honey from one of my other hives it may help. We had laced the few frames we put in the nuc box with honey and the first try we made they cleaned every bit of it off. :shock:

    Right now it is building up to storm and I hope I am able to get them handled in the morning. It made me wonder what would have become of them if we had not been able to catch them. Has anyone ever see a swarm make it through a storm?
     
  9. jim314

    jim314 New Member

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    Good going and good catch :thumbsup:
     
  10. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    Well once they have brood you can mess with them all you want to because the bees won't leave while there's brood.

    Forget the honey, rob a frame with eggs in it. As long as they accept the eggs which they usually will, they won't leave again... the first few days are always the riskiest for the bees leaving again because they don't have any brood anchoring them to the hive. Honey they'll just gorge themselves on before leaving, but brood they won't leave behind and can't take with them.

    Oh yeah, frequently... for some reason bees like to swarm just ahead of a storm front, they do fine through storms, they just cluster tightly and after the storm they are even easier to shake into a box. I would be too if I had to sit through a storm outside on a branch.
     
  11. jmblakeney

    jmblakeney New Member

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    I've been hearing that from G3 a lot. So now when I know a storm in coming in that day I always look around for clusters even harder than normal.:grin:
    James
     
  12. Jacobs

    Jacobs New Member

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    I had a modest swarm 4 feet off the ground in my back yard yesterday afternoon. I used 3 frames of old brood comb under the swarm and they walked on it. This reduced the size of the swarm. I looked, but did not see the queen on the frames. I GENTLY scooped bees (still in the bush) onto my hand and looked for the queen before shaking them into the nuc box. When the swarm was small enough, I saw her walking on a leaf and got her in a queen catcher clip. I put that in the nuc and the remaining bees came to her. I'm going to leave her in the clip for another day and then release her. Despite the spring we have had, we are having a 1-2 day "cold" snap and I don't want to open hives to look for brood today. On swarms low enough to hold old brood comb to, this method has worked well for me.
     
  13. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    Thanks for the idea Jacobs. It might have made the job easier yesterday. The first try to get the bees did not work so well. The chain link fence they were clinging to had razor wire on top and an old piece of cut out tree trunk intermeshed at the top. It was the wood they were clinging to and it was covered on both sides of the fence. I knew when we tried to drop them in the box we stood a chance of missing the queen. The second time it worked and I was pretty certain we got her when the remaining bees ended up going to the box as Perrybee had mentioned would happen.

    We have been having some cool spells here too in Texas as these storm fronts move through. Right now it is in the 50's here this morning, a little too cool to dig into a brood box. I have some things to prepare which hopefully will give it a little time to warm up. The storm that moved through last night dumped hail. It was a good thing we moved the bees to a sheltered area out of the truck bed. :eek:
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2012
  14. Tia

    Tia New Member

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    I collected a swarm off a chain link fence once. It was not fun, but it was successful and I guess that's all that counts.
    In regarding to switching them from the nuc into a hive body, I "inherited" this gadget from my mentor: It's like an inner cover with a space almost the measurements of the opening at the top of the nuc cut out of the center. When I want a swarm to move out of a nuc into a brood box, I put them where they're going and then surround the nuc with a brood box, put the contraption on top and then a brood box with comb on top of that. They move up out of the nuc into the brood box no problem. The "malingerers" Just get bounced out after about a week.

    I should say that in the brood box, I like to put at least some drawn comb, and if I have a frame of eggs/larva/brood that I can afford to take from another hive, I'll put that in there too. I've also noticed a slight spraying with Honey Bee Healthy doesn't hurt.
     
  15. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Tia,

    I'd like to see a picture of that gadget. I need to build one.

    Gypsi
     
  16. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    Thanks Tia for the idea. It sounds like a good one that would work well. I did manage to get the bees installed in a brood box this morning. When I opened the nuc box they were all in a mass on the frames I put in there and they were quite easy to move over. For the time being I have a frame feeder installed filled with sugar syrup and have stuffed a little grass in the opening of the reducer to give them time to work their way out. If I were not in a hurry to get to work I'd have opened one of my other hives and pulled some frames to add to them. I figure that when people buy package bees they kinda start out the same way, but I know a swarm is a little different.

    This afternoon if the sun will come out and warm things up I will see about getting the additional frames pulled to give them something else to occupy their time. I'll let everyone know how they are doing as I work with them. They are really docile right now.:smile:
     
  17. Tia

    Tia New Member

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    I'm at work right now, but I'll try to remember to take a picture and post it.
     
  18. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    Bens-Bees, you were right in alot of what you said. Just went out and discovered they were all moved out.:sad:
    I guess it was a learning experience, but I'm not sure what it is. Either they did not like the home I gave them or I did something wrong. I was not able to steal a frame of brood from another colony due to the cooler weather and by the time I got off from work and it got warmed up enough they were gone.


    I put plenty of sugar syrup in an inside feeder, but the ants seemed to have decided to move in after the bees all left. I have wondered if the queen got injured or missed in some way since I never was able to see her. Collecting them off the chainlink fence was pretty difficult. One of my other hives looked pretty busy at the front when I went out there and I worried they might have decided to take up residence with them. After a few minutes though the activity at my other hive calmed down. There did not seem to be any fighting or tugging going on so I assumed it is just the normal late day activity of bees coming in from foraging. :confused:

    I am going to go back out and see if I see them bunched on a tree or something else nearby. Has anyone here ever had a caught swarm want to combine with one of their other hives? I would not think the other hive would accept them without a struggle. As docile as they were I figure my other hives would give them the boot.