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Swarm collected but some left behind

 
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mefgbee
Guard Bee


Joined: 10 Jul 2014
Posts: 57
Location: UK, Cheltenham

PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2015 7:32 pm    Post subject: Swarm collected but some left behind Reply with quote

I collected my second swarm on weds afternoon. It was blustery and overcast and they caught me out a bit as very feisty. Got stung on the eye whilst assessing how to collect them, so suited up for the actual task! Left the plant pot (covered with 10 top bars) until 9pm, when I returned to pick it up. Most of the stragglers had left the tree branch but there was a small cluster still there that I had to leave behind. Yesterday they were still there, and I've just checked this evening and about half of them are still on the branch (maybe 200 or so).

Will they return to their old hive or join another; or ought I to go and try and collect them too? They were so objectionable on weds that I don't relish a revisit, but I'm feeling a bit guilty if they're likely to die!

The main clump seem quite happy in their plant pot, and have calmed right down. Maybe it was just the weather and/or my inept handling. I'll transfer hem to a wooden TBH in about a week.
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ingo50
Scout Bee


Joined: 30 May 2014
Posts: 311
Location: Newport, Gwent, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2015 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The swarm from my National hive that I collected from my neighbours bird box was much better behaved, but I did get up at 5 am to start and they were still half asleep. The cluster remaining on the stake where the box had been were quite clever, I shook the stake and they landed on my bee suit hat, about 200. I then climbed over the fence very carefully and shook them on to their new hive, went back and got another 100 or so, same procedure. Different to my experience two weeks ago with very feisty swarms. If you can easily get the remaining bees and reunite with their sisters it would be good. Try an early start, good luck.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1582
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2015 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My guess is that this is a cast swarm with more than one virgin queen and the cluster left on the tree is one of the queens plus some devoted followers. They will most likely die of the cold if they are left there as that number is insufficient to create enough cluster heat and the weather in the UK at the moment is too cold.

Interesting that others have experienced feisty swarms too. My first prime swarm was shockingly unpleasant! Thankfully I was suited, so my face was protected but working without gloves I took 4-5 in each hand before I retreated and found my gloves in order to close up the hive I had dropped them ito. A couple of them were particularly potent stings too and one hand swelled up like a pudding for 2 days. A lesson not to be complacent about handling bees, as even the mildest mannered bees (I live right next door to these bees and they are normally very polite) can be surprisingly mean when they want to be.

Interestingly it was a prime swarm and the first cast emerged only 4 days later. It seems like the prime was hanging on for better weather, but in the end they couldn't delay any longer and were not at all happy about it! Thankfully the cast was much pleasanter to deal with, but I think there will be a lot of failed mating flights with all this cold blustery weather.
Can't believe it's nearly June and I'm still wearing a fleece and top coat that I've worn all winter!
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catchercradle
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1495
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2015 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interestingly, I shook a swarm out onto a ramp into a friend's Warré just over a week ago, and left a cardboard box over the raspberry bushes for the stragglers. The next morning, the bees having gone in were all out again on the sheet covering the ramp.

I shook the stragglers out of the cardboard box and there was the queen among them. Some of the main group proceeded to feed her before she and the rest of the bees entered the hive.
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ingo50
Scout Bee


Joined: 30 May 2014
Posts: 311
Location: Newport, Gwent, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2015 5:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is still very cool here in Wales and we had a lot of rain in May, the weather was more like in April. Almost cold enough to put the central heating back on.
Barbara, interesting what you have observed about the prime swarm hanging on, as the ones from my two National hives did this, with bad weather following rapidly. With hindsight, both hives had come through the winter very strongly, last years queens, and I put extra supers on too late. The ignorance of a novice.
My recent second large cast definitely had more than one queen, it split after I caught most of the bees but they rapidly left the bait hive as the queen was absent. A small group settled on a lower branch of the same tree , whilst the others went into my neighbour's bird box. Managed to get these earlier this week and currently in temporary accommodation in a bait hive until my second TBH complete.
Another bee friendly neighbour found a unmarked, probable virgin or newly mated queen inside her bedroom window and thankfully carefully released her. Wonder if she was from one of my colonies? Was she seeking refuge from a predator?
It would be interesting to know how many of the small cast swarms survive, from memory according to Thomas Seeley's research on feral colonies it is about a third. Might be worth a poll on this site?
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mefgbee
Guard Bee


Joined: 10 Jul 2014
Posts: 57
Location: UK, Cheltenham

PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2015 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies.

It was concerning me that they were likely to perish if left so I took ingo50's early start advice and just after 5am arrived at the tree with my shoebox. I'd brought a full suit just in case they were in a bad mood again, but I needn't have bothered - they were barely moving and frankly looked dead. It was a simple matter of picking the leaves off with the curled up dead bees attached to them. There was no movement or buzzing.

Once home I thought I'd warm the box a little just in case any were still alive, and simply too cold to move. 5mins on the Aga lid then left beside it. I also put some kitchenroll soaked in sugar syrup into the box in case they were low on energy. This worked and I started to hear some movement.

Mid morning I decided to recombine them. This went really well and was most interesting. As they emerged from the box (placed on a ramp leading to the temporary hive), more and more bees seemed to come out of the hive to greet them. There were lots of bees in the air, loads of fanning, and there seemed to be a buzz of excitement which lasted nearly 30 mins. I was surprised at the frenzy, and it made me realise that there is a responsibility not to leave bees behind when collecting a swarm, as they clearly are missing members of a family!








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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1582
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2015 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done for thinking of warming them up. Bees go into torpor when they get cold but can usually be revived by a bit of warmth and a little feed.
So pleased you instinctively realised that instead of just writing them off as dead.
Thanks so much for writing about it so that others can learn.

Their enthusiasm at reunification may mean that the queen was actually in the bunch of stragglers rather than the main cluster, so perhaps by saving those few bees you actually saved them all.

I think there will be a lot of scenarios like this with the weather being so poor for swarming.
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Adam Rose
Silver Bee


Joined: 09 Oct 2011
Posts: 586
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2015 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had something similar happen, and did the same thing to bring them round. I didn't have a larger cluster to re-unify them with though. About half of them really did die, I think the other half probably went back to the hive they had swarmed from.
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Dexter's shed
Scout Bee


Joined: 16 May 2014
Posts: 307
Location: Grays, Essex, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2015 10:34 am    Post subject: Re: Swarm collected but some left behind Reply with quote

mefgbee wrote:
when I returned to pick it up. Most of the stragglers had left the tree branch but there was a small cluster still there.


if a swarm has been on the tree/post/hedge etc for some time, the reason stragglers return is either scent of the queen or partial build of wax, I tend to asses the situation, if you can see wax (small white dots) cut them out/remove with scraper, then spray areas with a deodorant, as that masks the queen smell, I know some here don't like using smokers, but for swarms they are worth their weight in gold, putting a box upside down above the bees, then a few wisp's of smoke under them, normally sees them all marching into the box, sometimes you will leave a few behind, 10's or 20's but with no wax or smell, they will return to where they swarmed from
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ingo50
Scout Bee


Joined: 30 May 2014
Posts: 311
Location: Newport, Gwent, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2015 6:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done mefgebee, great fotos and very heartened to hear that the bees are happily reunited. I like the way you set up your ramp. I too have had very good advice on this forum. As a beekeeper in my first proper season, it can be a steep learning curve, especially as it's a very smarmy year. It is also helps to be mindfull of the bees viewpoint when making decisions and not only from our human perspective and think before rushing to do something unhelpful. Very Happy
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