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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There are a lot of reports of members capturing swarms.

It is nice to see such pleasure and enthusiasm.

I wonder if some of the 'old' heads would like to contribute their thoughts on 'after capture policy'. I am sure that the information could be of use to newer beekeepers. Members who have been capturing swarms for years have probably evolved a plan of what they intend to do with a captured swarm.

I am sure that the US members will respond but I have noticed that the US attitude to swarms differs from the UK attitude. I would like to read contributions from the non-US members. The exchange of information could be interesting and useful for all forum members.
 

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In my area of Israel, we have two main honey flows--spring (ending around mid May) and summer (ending late July).
A decent swarm, hived early in April, developing with no special help, will usually build up during the first flow and produce a modest crop from the summer flow.
If the swarm is a small one, I'll usually merge it with another swarm or with a weak hive. Depending on circumstances, it can help the size of yield produced from the spring flow where none might have been expected, and then give a nice summer crop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Efmesch

Thanks for the start ,,,,,, at least you are a gent.

Do you re-queen the swarms ??
 

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Barbarian asks: "Do you re-queen the swarms ??"
Efmesch says: Not usually. When I first started the literature always recommended changing the queen since she had already "proved herself" to be a swarmer, something you didn't want of your hives. But I figure that after she has swarmed, you've got a long summer ahead during which she won't warm. If it's a prime swarm, she'll be up and laying fast--something you won't get so fast if you change her. If she's a virgin, give her a chance to prove herself. In either event, if she disappoints, you can change her a few weeks later and still not lose too much time.
 

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I have to agree with Efmesch. When I started out I was always told to not promote traits that are considered undesireable (swarming). And yet after a few years it dawned on me :doh:that it is usually the most succesful hives that swarm in the first place! :shock: Why would I want to squeeze a queen that has been so productive? I understand perhaps from a strictly commercial standpoint that young queens overwinter better but I guess I'm just a big softie and let the bees decide when she's done.
 

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Of course the big breeders want you to requeen every swarm. They want to sell queens and don't want you to find better surviving strains of bees. I have not bought a queen in more than 30 years, other than when buying packages or nucs.
 

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Aha, very educational thread.... I just keep em, but I'm a newbee....
 

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Barbarian asks: "Do you re-queen the swarms ??"
If it's a prime swarm, she'll be up and laying fast--something you won't get so fast if you change her. If she's a virgin, give her a chance to prove herself. In either event, if she disappoints, you can change her a few weeks later and still not lose too much time.
:thumbsup::thumbsup:

The only reason, IMO, to requeen the swarm right away would be if they are hot tempered, but up here it doesn't happen very often.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
On this re-queening a swarm, I think I am swimming against the tide.

I prefer, if possible, to give a swarm a queen from my own stock. I don't want to introduce unknown traits into my apiary. If you start to breed your own queens then you will select for desirable characters. Of equal importance, is the removal of un-desirable traits. Some of the un-desirable traits are ...... aggression, following, running..... I could go on and am sure that other members could add to this list.

A swarm can bring with it these un-wanted features and sneakily these may not be quickly obvious.
 

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Won't disagree with you on that---BUT, until you've given the queen her chance, you won't know about the good traits she might be bringing you. Which is why I wouldn't "automatically" replace her after capture.
 

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Barbarian, if you are 100% happy with your stock, that's the way to go. If you are looking for improvement, an outyard for swarms may help you find bees with better traits than you have now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Who is 100% happy with their stock ?

An outyard for swarm assessment may be an answer but it would involve extra work and long term recording (wintering traits).

There are quite a few beeks in my area so I am sure I get drone input into the genetic pool.

.
 

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Who is 100% happy with their stock ?
There are quite a few beeks in my area so I am sure I get drone input into the genetic pool. .
To me that means that, even if you raise YOUR OWN new queens, you're going to get genes fertilized from drones that may not be to your liking (unless you artificially inseminate your queens). So why is that any better than holding on to the queen of the swarm that comes with strange genes?
 

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Who is 100% happy with their stock?
ME! I have fantasic little mutts (totally mixed genetics) and every single hive that overwintered is absolutely booming. The only weak colony I have is the small swarm I put in the observation hive last week, and they are such sweet little bees that I have grown to love them anyway... of course their temperament might change once the queen starts laying again. But their sister-swarm already has eggs and they're also still sweet little bees that totally ignore me.

My biggest problem is trying to scrounge together enough equipment fast enough to give them all room to make a honey crop. It's getting bad. I've been building more as fast as I can, but I keep filling it with new swarms. What am I gonna do?!?
 

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Count your blessings :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I think we may end up going in a circle with this re-queening of swarms. I will give it a rest for the moment.

I am unsure about how much UK traditions of beekeeping are involved. A great deal of emphasis is taught about swarm prevention and swarm control. In our climate, if you loose a swarm, it is likely that you will not get a crop (or get a reduced crop) from the hive that swarmed. When a beekeeper looses a swarm, there is a tendency for you to think that you have slipped up as a beekeeper. You may look back on your recent actions/neglect to find a cause for the loss.

Can I introduce another aspect of this thread ? Quite often a UK beekeeper will pass on an unwanted swarm. Each year my local association keeps a list of members who would like a swarm. These can be beginners or other members who have lost bees over the winter. I always like to help beginners but I have my doubts. A beginner may not recognize that a colony is not good. I suspect that beginners loose a higher proportion of colonies over winter. I suppose I can carry on as usual and say "Contact me if you have any queries or problems".

Does anyone else have thoughts on passing on captured swarms ?

.
 

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If a swarm is no good--blame the queen and replace her (but that brings us back to the circle you wanted to exit, so...)

Try to think of captured swarms as a means of strengthening existing colonies. Eliminate the swarm's queen (unless you want to replace that of the receiving hive) and unite the two. The process is easy, painless, and saves a lot of the need for added equipment. Above all, it highly increases your chances for a good crop of honey.
 

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Swarms are the natural way for bees to multiply their hive numbers. If you were to develop bees that never swarmed, they would be totally dependent on human beeks for their survival. They would never make it in the wild. That should never, and in my opinion, WILL NEVER happen. A swarm is a great way to help a newbee get into bees. Since they are apt to lose their first hive in the winter anyway, let them learn on free bees. If they survive, all the better.
 
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