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Swarm

 
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NetComrade
Nurse Bee


Joined: 21 Apr 2014
Posts: 36
Location: Paw Paw, WV, USA

PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 1:49 pm    Post subject: Swarm Reply with quote

Not sure if my bees have swarmed or not, but there is a sizable swarm 40 feet up a thin pine tree.

I moved one of my dead/empty hives onto a deck that is about 12 feet off the ground, and about 100 feet away from the other hive (on the other side of the house)

I removed a box of honey from it, but there is plenty of comb in there. Unfortunately, I didn't realize there was honey in it and the mice made a mess in there. There is probably a bit of honey left here and there, but I think I got the most of it.

Not sure why they decided to come out today, as it's pretty cool outside (50s'), but it's supposed to get into 70's later today.

I see bees checking it out, but I am not sure how else I can attract them.


Unfortunately the dead hive had some sort of disease most likely. It died out rather quickly in the fall, and there were tons of dead bees in front of it. The comb has white spots in it.

The hive right next to is seems pretty healthy after the winter.

Edit: pretty sure my bees swarmed. I guess I didn't expect the to run out of space by May. Activity near the hive is rather low.

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NetComrade
Nurse Bee


Joined: 21 Apr 2014
Posts: 36
Location: Paw Paw, WV, USA

PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

half the swarm was at the bottom of the tree.

it was a lot more aggressive than my reading has led me to believe.

I tried to brush them into a box and put them into the hive, but they seem to enjoy the box more so far.

THe other half of the swarm still seems to be on the tree.
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NetComrade
Nurse Bee


Joined: 21 Apr 2014
Posts: 36
Location: Paw Paw, WV, USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2016 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the bees moved in after hanging out another night in the coolness of a night.

How bad of an idea is to keep the old honey nearby as 'feeder' for the bees?

Because the mice been in there, i probably have little use for it., although they only destroyed 2-3 combs.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1574
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi

Unfortunately there is not much you can do when they go up high like that apart from try to lure them down into a hive, when they get hungry. A brood comb soaked in syrup will sometimes do it, but there is always the possibility that they will rob it out and move on when you are not looking. I would imagine they were grumpy because the weather conditions were not ideal for swarming. I had one last year like that.

I would put the honey in the hive for them rather than leave it out somewhere.

I find that prime swarms are usually less interested in staying in the apiary and are looking to move to new pastures, whereas cast swarms are happy of any home, particularly if it has a bit of comb in it already.
Bees can and will clean up a hive that has had a mouse in it and I once had two lots of scout bees vying for an empty hive that a mouse was still living in. It stunk of mouse urine but they obviously didn't care or maybe found that attractive. Bumble bees often occupy old mouse nests in the ground, so maybe it is a smell that bees associate with a good home site... I would imagine mice and squirrels will occupy tree cavities before they become large enough to house bees. We might find the smell offensive but bees clearly don't.

Anyway, congratulations on getting at least part of that swarm. It certainly looks like a big one Let's hope the queen is in your box and the others have followed.
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catchercradle
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1492
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would echo what Barbara has said about prime swarms, the swarms that want to stay in my apiary usually come from elsewhere.
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NetComrade
Nurse Bee


Joined: 21 Apr 2014
Posts: 36
Location: Paw Paw, WV, USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2016 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your feedback, as always. And good insight into what bees will stay will not (I still don't know if they're 'my' bees.. there was certainly nothing indicating they'd swarm (no bearding, or out of the ordinary behavior)

Apparently not only did they live through the cold, but also through a rain same night (my wife heard the humming the day before I noticed them)

I haven't seen the bees bring the pollen into the *new* hive yet, which from earlier feedback is an indication of a queen being in there.

Would you put the honey box at the top of the hive, or bottom?

I'd think top.

edit: fixed typos


Last edited by NetComrade on Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1574
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2016 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, I'm struggling to understand what is going on.

Firstly, do you have Warres or Langstroth hives?

Secondly, is the box of honey you took off spoiled by mice or just the lower box or are you sufficiently concerned about contamination that you wouldn't consume it yourself?

Thirdly, where are the bees from the swarm now.... in your swarm catching box or in the hive that died out or somewhere else?

How often do you visit your bees and watch them? I would have expected them to have been taking pollen in for the past couple of months although I am not familiar with your climatic conditions. The reason I ask is that when a colony swarms there is usually no more room in the hive and no more brood being laid, so no real need for pollen, so the fact that pollen isn't going in now may indicate that they have swarmed, providing there has been pollen going in over the past couple of months.

The simplest way to tell is to do an inspection and if it is a Warre then relatively easy to split the boxes and look for queen cells on the lower edges of the combs, just by tilting the top box slightly.

In a Langstroth, they usually put the queencells on the edges of the comb where it joins the frame, but you would need to do an inspection. How many boxes are there on that live hive?

When you say there were white spots on the comb of the colony that died out, are we talking tiny white spots or nearly the size of a cell? Just wondering if it is chalk brood you are referring to or possible varroa excrement, which I believe you would see on the top of the cell as a little white deposit. If it is a bad outbreak of chalkbrood, then I probably wouldn't utilise those combs again but if varroa was the problem, they should have died out with the colony and the comb be ok to reuse. Are you able to post a photo of it?
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NetComrade
Nurse Bee


Joined: 21 Apr 2014
Posts: 36
Location: Paw Paw, WV, USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara,

I have Warre hives

The mice damaged about 1/4 of the box. It was actually more vertical quarter than lower (horizontal) quarter, as there was extra space for them to maneuver there. Frankly, I haven't paid that much attention to how much damage there was. There was plenty of honey for me to regret I didn't look into the hive more when it died on in December.. and enough mouse poop for me to not be excited about it, and think about how I should've blocked the entrance better on both hives (I do have mouse guards, but they didn't seem to hold on spots very well)

I am going to admit, I am a far from perfect beekeeper (you can judge from my posts here over the past 2 years), as I had too many hobbies and things go on in life outside of bees. I visit the bees regularly, but from being a poor beekeeper I had an assumption that they swarm mid summer (i've read up on that now). The bees were bringing pollen since early March, minus a few days it was freezing.

I did not want to open the hive, until I took the insulation off it (it's really windy around me, and the hive is drafty from poor construction, and I had one hive freeze to death last year). I just took it off this weekend, as a week ago it was still 0C and below for a few days.

Since I added a box at the end of last summer (at the top), I don't think the brood has moved up there yet, although I am yet to open it (ran out of time this weekend)

Googling for pictures on varroa mite and comb, I think it was them. I don't think it was chalkbrood based on pictures. I do not have one to share, but will take one later in the week.

I should add, that I only have an opportunity to watch bees mostly on weekends. When I first got the hives, I had more opportunity to look at them daily.
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