Weird swarm

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by verney, Jul 2, 2012.

  1. verney

    verney New Member

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    Yesterday morning around 10am I looked out of my kitchen window and saw a lot of activity in front of the hive. Couple of minutes later there was even more activity and I ran outside. There were maybe 10 000 to 20 000 thousand bees flying over my neigbours lot in a circle. Some of them landed on trees but most of them were just flying around. I was already sure that I would lose half of my hive in that swarm but 30 minutes later they returned to the hive. After the bees had returned I saw some them on the landing board beating their wings like trying to cool down the hive.

    Couple of hours later we checked the hive:
    - hive is crowded but not overly so
    - queen was still there
    - found a supersedure cell
    - no swarm cells (there has been some previously)

    We decided to:
    - add a new super just in case
    - remove the queen cell

    Newbee here trying to understand what just happened. Could someone explain what just happened?
     
  2. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    It could be that the wing beating was the remnant of the bees sending their signaling pheromone out to the girls who had not yet returned to the hive, telling them that this was to be accepted as their "new" home. How you had the good fortune of having them return to your hive is beyond me. I would propose a hypothesis, but there is no way to know if it is correct:
    Your bees carried on normally while a swarm from another hive somewhere else came to your neighborhood. It's not clear rom your description whether you actually saw the swarm move into your hive. If you didn't, it's possible that this "foreign" swarm just moved on, while your hive continued on with its regular activities.
     

  3. verney

    verney New Member

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    That sounds bit unlikely. I haven't seen any other bee hives close to my home. Bees in my hive are still Italian and queen is still marked with a blue dot. I never saw another swarm arriving at the hive.

    I never saw my bees making a ball, they were just flying around. At some point direction of traffic changed and bees returned. I saw them returning to the hive, it took some 5-10 minutes for most of them to return.

    BTW: I think my queen has a cutted wing but I am not sure about it.
     
  4. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    It could be that they tried to swarm, but upon realizing that their queen (clipped wing) wasn't with them simply returned. I have heard of swarms returning if the conditions (no queen) are not right.
    Was the supercedure cell capped? I am not of the opinion that removing queen cells is a good idea. Only if a hive has already swarmed and I want to use those cells for starting nucs or raising other queens.
    If you had the extra equipment you could have removed the queen and several frames of brood and started another hive (or nuc), leaving the supercedure cell to hatch out.
    As it stands, you still have your queen (possibly with a clipped wing) and not lost a swarm so I guess to date you are OK.
     
  5. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    That "Small" detail about your queen being clipped puts a totally different light on the story. I think Perry gave the right answer.
    The blue dot means she was raised in 2010, and that she is in her third year of production. The supercedure cell indicates that the girls feel they've "had enough" of her and want a change. Adding another super was a wise move. Removing the queen cell was not such a good idea. Supercedures usually work themselves out on their own, the two queens may even function together for a while until, one day the daughter decides to take over and quietly eliminates her mother. All this happens without having a break in egg production. Now, without the supercedure cell, you'd be wise to do something about replacing the clipped queen.
     
  6. verney

    verney New Member

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    Supercedure cell was capped. I could have used it for creating a nuc but that I just did it two weeks ago (from the hive in question) and now I have no spare equipment. Mental note for myself: always keep extra equipment available.

    I know queen is old and I have a new queen on order. She should arrive this or next week.

    Sorry efmesch, can't remember everything.
     
  7. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    This is something we all say, and yet.........................never seem to get around to doing. You are in good company! :lol: :thumbsup:
     
  8. verney

    verney New Member

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    Failed swarm due to clipped wing queen sounds good. What I don't understand is why did they swarm in the first place and why they wanted to swarm with a bad queen? She must be bad as they made a supercedure cell.
     
  9. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Swarming is a natural occurrence, it's what a "successful" hive will do. It becomes congested because of it's success and will issue a swarm. This occurs not because the queen decides to, but rather the bees themselves, and they may or may not know of her inability to fly. I have had a hive throw a swarm and after I caught it and hived it, went and checked the hive it came from and found the marked/clipped queen still there. It was clearly a swarm with a virgin queen. Once they decide to go they will, and I don't think they much care which queen goes with them.
     
  10. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Sitting at the computer it's easy to make it seem as if I do. When my wife isn't with me to serve as a "reminding machine", I'm in bad trouble. :roll:
     
  11. pturley

    pturley New Member

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    All advice around indicates that once in "swarm mode" they will likely remain that way until successful. Adding the super alone might not be enough.

    With a three year old queen, you'll likely find more than one supercedure cell (possibly MANY MORE) on your next inspection.
    If it were earlier in the year this could add to the possibility of your hive throwing off "casts" or secondary swarms. At this time of year it should be less likely though. (a friend and I had a hive "swarm out" thanks to this same mistake in early spring).

    The natural cycle is that the old queen leaves with the swarm. You'll want to replicated this by pulling a few frames of brood, a few of honey and the old queen to make the bees believe that they have swarmed successfully (Move these to either a nuc, or if the parent hive is strong enough, to a full hive body).

    Leave any queen cells intact to allow the new virgin queen to inherit the hive.

    If splitting into full hive bodies and they don't build up enough for winter, you can always pinch one of the queens and recombine later (ideally prior to a fall flow).