Why did the bees die after swarm extraction?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by omnimirage, Sep 7, 2015.

  1. omnimirage

    omnimirage New Member

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    Recently I went and captured a swarm. During the extraction process, a fair amount of dirt, leaves and twigs fell into the box. I moved the bees into a clean box, and tipped them all out of the messy one. Pecuilarly, they weren't eager to move into the new hive. I thought the bees were supposed to all follow after their queen, but instead, they gathered into clusters where ever they happened to be placed. There were about five clusters of bees, all piled on each other.

    I tried to retrieve my cloth which I used in the extraction, and there were numerous bees on it that were particularly passive and immobile. I eventually thought that perhaps they needed honey for some energy, so I gathered half a dozen jar lids and filled them with honey, and put it near the bee clusters. Wanting to motivate them to move under shelter, I got a branch and put a tarp over it, and placed most of the honey underneath. They ate the honey fairly fast, but many bees stayed on top of the tarp and were rained on. I also poured honey into their hive, to encourage them to go into it, which was unsuccessful. Realising that the bees weren't going to move, I picked up the bees that I could and put them in the hive, and did my best to provide shelter for the less mobile ones. A few days later, many of the bees died, including all the bees in the old box with the dirt.

    I don't know why they died. I think I must have done something wrong, but I'm really not sure what. I estimate I've lost 60% of the bees. Any idea on why this happened? Should have I provided the bees with sugar/honey as soon as I collected them? Should have I left them in the box with all the dirt in it? Could it be that the queen died, which is the reason the bees didn't follow after her?
     
  2. Guba

    Guba New Member

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    I'm definitely NOT an expert, but I have never had any issues with catching a swarm and the swarm accepting a new hive. In fact I always find it remarkable that they accept it so easily. Maybe your swarm found plants that had pesticides sprayed on them?
     

  3. ibeelearning

    ibeelearning Member

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    Thinking it's your fault may be a cognitive error. They could well have been diseased before you captured them, which would account for their odd behavior and provide an additional explanation for why they were in the wind in the first place. Does an examination of the dead bees provide any clues. Australia makes this a spring swarm, right?
     
  4. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Temperature?
     
  5. omnimirage

    omnimirage New Member

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    I don't notice anything odd about the dead bee's bodies, though I'm not sure what to look for. It is spring now.

    The bees are slowing drawing comb and filling it with honey. I saw no queen activity, though the comb is probably too undeveloped for her to lay eggs in it. I went to my other hives to find some eggs to give to the hive, in case the queen died, and after an hour I couldn't find any eggs, only sealed brood and larvae. I can go to another site to check, but my experience was quite disheartening and I'm wondering if it's worth it. I read that the eggs need to be less than three days old for them to make a queen out of it. Many bees were flying around a few days after catching the hive. They seemed more disorganised than they usually are; they flew around in circles and climbed up the walls, didn't seem to venture out much.
     
  6. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    what was the temp when you did the extraction?
     
  7. ibeelearning

    ibeelearning Member

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    Yeah, they would seem at least queenless, and maybe sick, too. I would be wary of combining. You are correct on the egg age. If you can find a frame with eggs on your other site, it would still be an experiment. But, there is so much else to do in a bee yard in the spring, I'd be tempted to just let it go.