Trying to outsmart a swarm?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by arkiebee, May 31, 2009.

  1. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    I am new to this and hope I am doing this right - anyway - I have a huge hive that I split 2 weeks ago. Yesterday was the first day I was able to get back in there and do a thorough check and what I found were swarm cells. They were on the bottom of 3 frames of brood. SO I took those 3 frames and put them in a nuc box along with 2 frames of plain foundation. I want to avoid this hive from swarming because my queen will lay from one end of a frame to another solid and I would like to get a queen from her (this is her 2nd year). My question is HOW long do I wait before I peek under the cover of the nuc box to see what's going on? The swarm cells were capped. I know the first one out will kill the other queens in their cells and if there are 2 then they fight it out, then the queen goes on her mating flight, and then finally she comes back to lay? How much time should I allow to see what's going on? AND when should I put these frames into a regular hive body? I have never used a nuc box before and there sure doesn't seem like there is much room in there? One frame had honey sealed so I didn't put a feeder on it - we are in the middle of a honey flow here in Arkansas - the clover if blooming like crazy. Sorry this is so long.
    Thanks
    arkiebee
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    A capped cell can be from day 10 to say 16. I would check in 11 days, then if nothing was found, I would add a frame of eggs and brood without adult bees and check 7 days after that.
    The second check should reveal new eggs or more capped queen cells, depending on the success of the first cells.
     

  3. Charles

    Charles New Member

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    Hi arkiebee, glad you made it! Iddee knows of which he speaks...

    Welcome to the forum!
     
  4. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    A split two weeks ago??

    So you removed the old queen or left her in the original hive?

    In any splitting for swarm control, the old queen and several frames should be removed from the original colony. This simulates a swarm, and the old hive is fooled into thinking the old queen and a certain number of bees have already left. You also get the advantge of rotating in some fresh foundation and opening up the brood chamber, which may help.

    You can not achieve this result by simply moving queen cells out of the old hive.

    Splitting hives to take advantage of what bees give you (swarm cells) is one thing. Splitting in attempts to keep hives from swarming usually results in less production of honey, etc. Too many people simply split in attempts to keep hives from swarming. Which many times is unsuccessful, and many times done with poor results from improper management.

    Of course, I often wonder how many of these same people fed, used pollen pattties, and dreamed of booming hives with lots of honey production 30 days ago, but now split their hives in fear of losing a few bees, while killing the honey production.
     
  5. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    I will check the nuc in 11 days. I checked my "bee diary" and it was 13 days from the time I made the split to finding the swarm cells. I know the newly hatched queen has to go on her mating flight and that will take a few days. IF I don't see any new eggs in 11 days could it be that the new queen is still on her mating flight?

    When does a person need to take the bees from a nuc box and put them in a regular hive body? And what is the best method to do this so the incoming forager bees know to go into their new house?
     
  6. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    AND THANKS EVERYONE FOR SOME GREAT INFO!!!
     
  7. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    It sounds like she emerged on the 30th or 31st. She could start laying anywhere from the 4th to the 24th of June. The frame of eggs and brood can boost the hive if she is slow starting, and can replace her if her mating flight was fatal.

    You move the colony from the nuc to the hive after she is laying and 4 plus frames are full of honey, pollen, and brood. Move the nuc to the side and place the hive in it's place. Move the frames into the hive, keeping them in the same order as in the nuc. Center all 10 frames in the hive tightly with any extra space divided between the two outsides. Shake the remaining bees out of the nuc box and remove it from the area. The foragers will enter the box setting at their normal home site.
     
  8. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    Please correct me if I am wrong, and know doesn't apply at this stage of the hives developement with hatched queen(s) and already a formal split in the colony. If 20 days or so prior to full brood chamber(s) 2 or 3 supers were added to provide storage space to avoid clustering in the brood chamber(s) and moving sealed brood from brood chamber(s) into the supers ( I use deep supers so is a simple matter for me know more then a few use medium supers over deep brood chambers this can be problematic for what I am saying ) to spread out the bees that emerge and draw up the field bees, would you not totally avoid the conditions that start the swarming impulse, loafing inside the hive, bearding outside the hive nowhere to go no place to work. Perhaps things have changed since I was last in beekeeping ( 1998 ) but the central theme was always to keep your workforce totally intact--was ALWAYS told swarming is a failure in hive manangement. That you replace the old queen with one you want, never one you get. Always the mantra was a intact colony fairs better then one that swarms and loses half or more of it's population--and always the risk of after swarms that are seldom productive, and practially destroy the parent colony by so weakenng it coupled with a virgin queen 1/3 the summer gone before she will be in condition to lay full brood patterns---how is that a good thing to have to feed a colony during the summer only because they swarmed themself to near death. Always the teachings were to keep the colony intact and manipulate to prevent swarms. Of course swarms happen especially when you have 10 or more hives and not able to pay close enough attention to avoid them--but you should want to avoid swarming, if you want colony increase of course you can manipulate for that as well but know niether colony may be as productive, as one that niether swarmed or split for increase. Again was what I was preached to and about if this is wrong please advise me as to why is wrong.
    Barry
     
  9. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    Thank you so much Iddee - I'll get into that nuc one day next week - which would probably make it 11 days or so - depending on the weather - and see what is going on. I sure hope that the queen gets back home safely!!

    I am going to get into the hive that I took the frames from that had the swarm cells and see if there are anymore swarm cells. If so I am just going to cut them out. This hive had plenty of room and I had even put a super on it, but they still decided they wanted to swarm. All beekeepers in this area have had problems with swarming - seems more than usual - I think because we have had so MUCH wet and cool weather that when it finally warmed up and the sun came out these bees in Arkansas were wanting to get the heck out of Dodge while the sun was shining!

    I can't complain about the rain - we have had so much drought in the past. I know too much rain is hard on bees and I bet they were really getting cabin fever during the months of April & May around here.

    I REALLY APPRECIATE ALL OF YOU AND YOUR INPUT OF INFORMATION!
     
  10. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    BARRY,
    Those items (supering, expanding the area, less congestion) you listed certainly can play into swarming, but are not the sole item that starts swarming.

    Studies on fall swarming have shown that flow alone, can trigger swarming. It is a key component and triggers the forces in perptuating the species. In good times (flows).....bees will swarm to take advantage of it in multiplying. And who hasn't seen a new package swarm with half the frames drawn? Seasonal triggers, flow, nature's impulse to perpetuate, and other factors all come into play.

    Keep in mind....

    If you had 10 hives come out of winter, and did absolutely nothing with them, that 9 out of 10 would swarm. 5 out of those 9 would swarm again some time later (30-45 days)

    Swarm prevention is lowering that 90% rate down to perhaps 30-50%. Such items as reversing boxes, adding supers, using first year queens, etc., can help lower the swarm rate. But nobody will stop it 100%. Except for those who claim that, by simply not seeing it happen.... ;)

    Problem is, there are fringe groups who make all kinds of claims and outright ignorant observations. One group claims if you constantly undersuper, and keep bees as some long ago dead Frenchman did, that swarming can be eliminated. Pure Hogwash! There is no such truth, and lowering the swarming rate is as good as any beekeeper can do.

    You are right about the benefits of keeping the hive intact. More production (honey) can be gained. Too many beekeepers get intimidated by strong hives, use no swarming prevention measures, and then split their hives in fear of the most natural thing the bees do....swarm. They would be far better off lowering the overall swarm rate and allowing the strong hives to produce a bumper crop. And for those that do start swarm precedures, make splits, etc.

    But to split every hive that builds up and use that as "swarm control" is the wrong approach for many.
     
  11. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    Thanks - I appreciate all the info you guys are giving me. I was just out to my hives - here around 7 a.m. and it is in the 50s. Anyway I saw a lot of dead and dying drones outside the nuc box. I put my ear to the nuc box and could hear quiet humming going on - so I know bees are still in there, but what does the dead drones mean? Could it mean they have mated with the queen, or the bees just didn't want to mess with them and they kicked them out? I know the queen flies to a mating "area" and meets drones there, but I was just wondering if anyone could help me with this puzzle? I am so anxious to get in there, but I don't dare for a few more days.
    Thanks
    Sandra
     
  12. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    alittle early in the year to reject the drones, mated drones of course die a happy death, but would not likely be seen that close to the hive, the tempature could have a factor, that chilly, after the mating flight, the need for drones would not be as critical as feeding the upcomming brood, and existing worker force.
    Barry
     
  13. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Any hive will reject drones when there are too many of them. I think the normal amount during mating season is around 17%.

    During a dearth, or when the hive has undergone a trauma, such as a split or cut out.

    During adverse weather, such as a sudden cold spell.

    Maybe other reasons I'm not familiar with, also.
     
  14. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    by BjornBee » Fri Jun 05, 2009 6:08 am

    BARRY,
    Those items (supering, expanding the area, less congestion) you listed certainly can play into swarming, but are not the sole item that starts swarming.

    As I stated previously, my understanding ( not from the DeMaree method " dead frenchman" I believe you qouted lol ) but were the recommended methods of the time, to the best of my current knowledge, those are still the recommended techniques. I know that there can be fall swarms, they are almost certianly doomed unless a beekeeper collects them not enough nectat flow or time to develop wintering strength. I also believe that fall swarms are strongly associated with brood chamber congestion and crowding loafing, and bearding in and around the colony --remedy those concerns, and yes they MAY still swarm, if not caught early enough. Is almost a certianty if you don't
     
  15. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    Well guess what guys???!!! I just caught my first swarm! I was in town and my son called me and said that my bees are swarming - I came back home and naturally they were quite a way off the ground so my husband & son were doing some farm work and I had my husband to lift me in the tractor bucket and I got under them with a box and I shook what I could from the limb, but I mostly had to brush them into the box. I think I got the queen because when I got down and shook the box into an empty hive body, I got up there again and got some more bees and shook them then left the box in front of the hive body and I saw bees going into the hive box. So I assume?? the queen got in the first...load! Some of the bees were still swarming and collecting on the limb, will they go to the hive box now? I am getting ready to go out and see what's going on.
    I am going out there tonight and if they are all in the hive body, I am going to move it to another place on our farm. Then when can I put the other frames back in there and move the hive back to join my other hives? (I put the bees in the hive body with 5 frames of foundation)
    I checked on that nuc box and I bet it was what you guys said .. a cool spell & too many drones... because we had some cool temps the last couple of days. I ever so slightly slid the nuc cover a bit and I do have lots of bees still in there - so I felt better.
     
  16. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Congrats on the swarm catch.

    Put the other 5 frames in NOW...NOW...NOW... They will have comb built from the lid by tonight. Then move them when all the bees are in the hive box. You can bring them back after the queen is laying and the eggs are hatching. 4 to 8 days.
     
  17. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    I put the other 5 frames in there just now and some of the bees were still in the box but it looks like the majority went back to the swarm tree where they started - so now what do I do? Catch them again? It will have to wait till probably a couple of hours before I can get Kieth to bring the tractor up here since he is on the other side of the farm using it. They are still buzzing about the swarm cluster and hive box - but mostly at the cluster. I think I really got them confused. If I am able to get up there again should I just brush them into my box (I am using a cardboard box since it is light then shaking them into the hive) or should I try to smoke them into the box. It's awfully high up there???

    Another beekeeper from the area told me to take them ( 5 frames) and put them back in in a day or two - I am glad you got back to me so quick.
    Woe is me! Right when I think I did something right! Something else goes wrong!
     
  18. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Shaking them in again will work, but could take more than one time. The best method, if feasible, is to cut the limb and bring it down. Then they won't have the smell in the tree to go back to. You can lay the limb on the front porch of the hive and they will march in like a bunch of little soldiers.
     
  19. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    Iddee you are so smart! When I went back out there the bees had gone back to the limb - so I had my husband set me up in the bucket of the front end loader ...again... and by the way - I hate heights! I sprayed them with sugar water then I wrapped the swarm in a pillow case and tied both ends around the swarm cluster. My husband has one of those long pole chain saws and when he sawed the end of the limb off and it shook, the cluster fell into the pillow case. I then held the limb while he sawed the other side and then I came down with the limb, cluster and all. I shook the biggest part of the cluster in a hive body - with frames of foundation - and laid the limb at the entrance and smoked them ever so gently and they started marching in there like little soldiers - like you said!
    We are going to move it tonight when all have gone in there to another part of our farm and leave it there for a week or so - I will check for eggs.
    Boy you guys know so much - where was this forum when I started with bees last year??????
    I know it was my Italians that swarmed. I must have missed a swarm cell is all I can think of. Can I get into my ORIGINAL hive tomorrow and see what's going on? or would it be too much since they swarmed today?
     
  20. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    You can go into it anytime you want. You are going to find queen cells. If you remove them, you will end with a queenless hive. You may have another swarm within a week, so be sure you have another hive ready.
    Glad you got them.