Was it my swarm?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by BSAChris, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. BSAChris

    BSAChris New Member

    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Here's my goofy question for the week. How do you know if your hive swarmed?

    I was minding my own business working on a ditch near my pole barn this afternoon - its bloody hot here, so when a sudden but brief icy wind came through I stood up to enjoy it - then noticed a very loud buzzing and looked up at the roofline. There were thousands of bees (well, it looked like a scene from "The Birds" just with bees) in a cloud buzzing around and then within a matter of about 5 seconds they seemed to head into or beyond my nearby tall norway spruces and disappeared.

    I went around there and looked and listened carefully, but there was nothing I could see, except as usual the trees had plenty of bees walking around on them (honeydew I've heard, they do it often).

    I then checked all 4 hives and they seemed about normal capacity for midday - I cracked their inner lids and had a peek inside to listen and look.

    I've just been out to check the hives again, and they are at what looks like normal capacity for a warm evening - teeming with bees, with lots of workers still coming and going.

    One of my online beekeeping friends said that I might not notice the swarm even being gone from a hive - is this true? In my minds eye, I've envisioned the swarm leaving the hive noticeably underpopulated.

    I was surprised mine would even swarm, since all 4 are new packages and they've always had plenty of room, but I know its not unheard of. So by observation can I tell if one swarmed? The other options are: a zillion bees were hanging around in those trees, like they do, and the same icy blast upset them momentarily just like it pleased me; or, there are a few thousand commercial hives within a 2 mile radius - they probably let loose every now and then themselves.

    What do you think?
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

    Messages:
    5,829
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The only sure way to tell if it was one of your swarms is to look for the presence of queen cells. I have found it all but impossible to tell if a hive swarmed by population alone. Looking in the top won't do it, you have to muck around in there.
     

  3. Lburou

    Lburou Member

    Messages:
    553
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    I'm thinking a hive that swarmed will have queen cells in it. We'll let the beekeeper who has never had a hive swarm throw the first stone, OK ;)
     
  4. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

    Messages:
    5,162
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Not sure of your hives configuration, but if they are in single deeps just tilt the hive body forward off of the bottom board. You should see queen cells hanging down off of the bottoms of the frames. You also might be able to see queen cells hanging down if you have screened bottom boards, think mirror and flashlight.

    As for telling by looking at the landing board, nope. Have watched a swarm leave a hive and all looks normal in just a few minutes.
     
  5. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

    Messages:
    2,683
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    remember when your in the hive during the day up to 2/3 of the hive is out foraging. So if the foragers leave with a swarm you wouldnt miss them. Best as stated above look for newly hatched queen cells. There most likely wouldnt be any eggs in the hive either
     
  6. BSAChris

    BSAChris New Member

    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    They are all double deeps (well, 2 double deeps, and 2 with 1 deep and 2 mediums as I'm experimenting to convert them to all mediums) - Should be okay to to tilt it all forward to look at the bottoms, yes? I will look for eggs at my next inspection later this week - I just can't stomach doing it in the heat today, but probably by friday it will cool off.

    ​Thanks!
     
  7. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

    Messages:
    5,162
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Queens will usually (which means it does not always hold true) hatch out a day or two after a swarm leaves. You may be looking for open cells. take some help with you to tilt that big of a stack over, they will be heavy and could get away from you.
     
  8. Parksguyy

    Parksguyy New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hey BSAChris,
    Not a stupid question at all ... on Sunday I visited my hives and was told by the landowner that there was a swarm in the bush next to the hives ... it happened about an hour before. He heard this roar and realized it was a cloud of bees. So, a call was made to my partner to bring out an empty hive, while I waited I went ahead and did my inspections. About 5mins before he arrived, the swarm packed up and left, guessing the scouts must of found a new home. So, I think its fair to say it was likely one of our hives that swarmed, but I have no way of knowing which one either. All four hives were already bearding as normal, even our one weaker hive. These are all second year hives, so not really a surprise to see the swarm ... they came out of winter very stronge, except the one ... which has actually been more productive than two others ... its has its second honey super on now and will likely get the third one this weekend. Like you, I checked all the hives and for the life of me have no idea which one would have swarmed ... they look just as full as before this?
     
  9. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

    Messages:
    3,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Hey Parksguyy,
    Welcome to the forum! :hi:
    For a first post, I gotta hand it to you. Just that I feel sorry about the swarm you missed---your's or not.
    Lesson to be learned: When you go away from home to visit an out apiary, always take spare equipment with you---you never know what to expect. Or said differently, always expect the unexpected---and try to be prepared.:grin:
     
  10. Parksguyy

    Parksguyy New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks efmesch,
    Its funny you say that, because I had just picked up a spare hive just in case I needed one for a split or possible swarm. A fellow beek is in the business of swarm removals and was done for the season and had asked me if I would be interested in any call outs ... wasn't thinking it would be my own hives however. As sad as I was watching the girls leave, its nature at its best ... but I'm now more concerned about the hive it left from ... my inexperience kicks in here.
     
  11. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

    Messages:
    2,060
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    It's still early enough for the hive to requeen it self and have time to raise a population of bees to take the hive thru the winter. The new queen should be back in the hive and laying in about 20 days from now. At that time you need to make sure there are open frames in the brood nest for the new queen to lay and that the bees didn't back fill all the brood frames with nectar as the brood emerged.
     
  12. BSAChris

    BSAChris New Member

    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I think I may have found the hive that swarmed - I did a quick inspection of all four today (its unbearably hot, I had to be quick) and I found all hives but one to be acting normal and with the normal pattern of brood down the middle of the hive. One had 5 frames of honey right across the middle of the top brood box. I did not have time to look at the bottom brood box today, so I moved the 5 empty frames to the middle in case there is still a queen, but I suspect that was the one. They've filled those frames very quickly - I guess this must be what we call "the flow" I think I will go back out tomorrow and steal a couple of those deep honey frames..