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Captured swarm - what do I do now?

 
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johnnsally
Nurse Bee


Joined: 02 Dec 2009
Posts: 46
Location: Northern Ireland, North Coast

PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 1:04 pm    Post subject: Captured swarm - what do I do now? Reply with quote

I have just caught a swarm which I am pretty certain is from my hive. A week ago I split my hive having found queen cells and thought I had transferred the old queen away - this swarm seems to have come from what I thought was the hive with only queen cells.

My wife heard lots of bee noise this morning. On inspection there were loads of bees circling around the hive which later settled on a nearby gorse bush. I managed to get the swarm by clipping off the branch they where on, putting this into a wicker basket and from there put the branch into a top bar hive which I then closed up having put in a jar of syrup. I only have two top bars with drawn comb and it is only small pieces but they are both included in the hive.

I have pushed a small piece of wood under one of the top bars to help ensure the hive doesn't heat up to much but not big enough to allow bees out.

The hive has an inspection window which I looked through a short while ago and most of the bees are still balled on the gorse branch.

Just to complicate things both of the other hives are standard hives and the one the swarm is in its a Kenyan tbh. Both of the others are small because they are the result of the split a week ago. I can't therefore add any brood or food from them because they probably need it themselves and the frames are the wrong shape.

Should I have done anything else?

What now?
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1565
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi and congratulations on catching the swarm.

Firstly, don't panic. Conditions here in the UK are pretty good for swarms and since they just came out of a hive, they will have filled up with honey before leaving and therefore don't need feeding. A little comb can help a cast swarm get started but it is certainly not essential, especially at this time of year as it is still early in the season and they have plenty of time to build up before winter.

I did warn you on your other thread about possible robbing that this might happen

Quote:
I'm sure it will all work itself out though..... just be aware that your split with the queen cells may still throw cast swarms as there will be enough flying bees to make it viable since they have all the foragers plus hatching brood.


The same hive may even throw another swarm.

I appreciate that people worry about swarms absconding, but if you have prepared the hive well, then it is unlikely to happen as these bees are looking for a home and cast swarms are usually less particular than prime swarms, so more likely to settle.

Have you attached the comb you put into the hive to the top bars? This can easily be done by making slings over the top bars with paper masking tape. Leaving the comb lying in the bottom will just cause problems too, so it's important for it to be hung under the top bars.

You also need to remove the branch they were clustered to as that is only going to get in the way. I would suggest that this evening at about 7pm, you open the hive and remove that branch and shake any bees still attached into the hive. Open the entrance hole, so that any bees that fly up can get back in and leave it open for them to forage tomorrow. Don't forget to remove those little bits of wood that are chocking up the bars at the moment. Leave them with about 8 top bars and then the follower, so that they are not in too big a cavity, remove the feeder and let them get on with doing what bees do best, without further hindrance. It will take a few days for the queen to get mated and start laying, so look out for pollen being taken in around a weeks time and consider inspecting after two weeks.

Good luck with them.

Barbara
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johnnsally
Nurse Bee


Joined: 02 Dec 2009
Posts: 46
Location: Northern Ireland, North Coast

PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 4:50 pm    Post subject: Thanks again Barbara. Reply with quote

Hi Barbara,

I've spent the last week thinking backward and forward over the split process I used. I have been essentially thankful they didn't swarm and jinxed myself this morning early by saying to my wife that we seem to have done alright and ended up with two happy hives . . . And within hours they swarmed!!

I gather from your post that you would be pretty confident that what I have caught is a cast with a young queen and that I've got another young queen remaining in the hive?

The comb in the hive is from last year and is clean comb from a swarm that came and went in a hive I had left empty. They built a very small amount and then absconded before they used it at all so I am pretty confident it is okay to use regarding hygiene and pests and it is fixed to the bars by the bees.

I'll cross my figures and go and move the branch shortly.

Thanks again.
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johnnsally
Nurse Bee


Joined: 02 Dec 2009
Posts: 46
Location: Northern Ireland, North Coast

PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 5:10 pm    Post subject: Phew Reply with quote

Done and remarkably easy.

Nice looking ball of bees hanging off a few empty top bars and only three or four flew up and away.

See what tomorrow brings.

Thanks again.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1565
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done.

I can only assume this is a cast swarm with a virgin queen from you saying that you transferred the original queen in the other half of the split to a different hive location. There will be multiple queen cells in the existing hive. This queen with the swarm will most likely have been the first one to hatch and the next one may also leave the hive with another smaller swarm if there are still enough bees. It is not unusual for a hive to swarm 3 or 4 times over a period of a couple of weeks and still have a queen left to take over and enough bees for the colony to build back up and survive, so keep a look out for another one in the next few days. Usually they emerge between 11 am and 2pm when the sun is shining. You will probably get away with putting another cast swarm in the other end of a 4 ft TBH, assuming you have put this one in one end. If it is in the middle then you might want to think about moving it to one end just in case you need to use the other end for a second swarm..... or you could cross that bridge when/if you come to it.

Best wishes

Barbara
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johnnsally
Nurse Bee


Joined: 02 Dec 2009
Posts: 46
Location: Northern Ireland, North Coast

PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 7:33 pm    Post subject: Slow progress? Reply with quote

The captured swarm has been siting in the hive since Wednesday and there has been a steady flow of bees in and out of the hive but the bulk of them have just been sitting in a ball where they first moved when I put them in. Today - wondering what s going on and in an effort to make them do something - I put a small amount of off cut comb in with them hung from a top bar. In the process I disturbed them slightly, enough to see a very small pice of new built comb.

I had thought they would be doing more by now or would have headed off looking for a nicer home.

Any feedback?
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johnnsally
Nurse Bee


Joined: 02 Dec 2009
Posts: 46
Location: Northern Ireland, North Coast

PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 7:33 pm    Post subject: Slow progress? Reply with quote

The captured swarm has been siting in the hive since Wednesday and there has been a steady flow of bees in and out of the hive but the bulk of them have just been sitting in a ball where they first moved when I put them in. VIewed though an observation window. Today - wondering what s going on and in an effort to make them do something - I put a small amount of off cut comb in with them hung from a top bar. In the process I disturbed them slightly, enough to see a very small pice of new built comb.

The lack of comb building activity made me feel they were pausing while the scout bees checked the area for another location.

I had thought they would be doing more by now or would have headed off looking for a nicer home.

Any feedback?
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biobee
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 1051
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Swarms always cluster to build comb and it can look like they are not doing much, but leave them for a couple of weeks and you will see what they have done!

Feed if the weather is iffy, but not usually necessary.
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johnnsally
Nurse Bee


Joined: 02 Dec 2009
Posts: 46
Location: Northern Ireland, North Coast

PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2016 9:29 pm    Post subject: Never rains but pours Reply with quote

Thanks for the feedback Phil and Barbara

This morning in the midst of a beautiful sunny day my wife heard the now familiar sound of a swam. I wandered about until I saw them in the process of gathering in a gorse bush around a foot from the ground. I then rather rapidly sorted out an empty hive and gathered together the small razor saw and pruning clippers etc. By the time I got all this done and got back to the swarm they had gathered into a neat bundle and I managed to catch and house them.

We are not sure but but is possibly a cast from the hive that threw out the swarm earlier in the week - as per Barbara suggestion.

We're feeling both a little stunned, a little pensive and a little gleeful. A few weeks ago we had one healthy hive and we now have four 'not too sure about there viability' hives. We hope that this early in the year all four will have a chance to gain good footing to make it through the winter!!

At least the forecast for the coming week is excellent so the two swarms should both have a good chance at the queens mating.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1565
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2016 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congratulations on another swarm capture. There is a thrill of achievement in catching a swarm even when you have captured many.... with each one you gain experience and confidence.

This early in the season there is every reason to be hopeful that all of them will build up to a size that will survive winter provided they are queenright. You won't know that for a few weeks. I would advise not inspecting the swarms until at least 2 weeks from being placed in a hive, particularly with cast swarms as this allows the virgin queens to have their mating flights and settle down to laying before you disturb them. The original parent colony may take several weeks longer before the queen starts to lay there, but they can afford to have a break because they don't have any comb to build and the longer brood break they have, the better it is from a varroa mite infestation level as it knocks the mite population right down.

Good luck with all four colonies.

Regards

Barbara
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johnnsally
Nurse Bee


Joined: 02 Dec 2009
Posts: 46
Location: Northern Ireland, North Coast

PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 10:00 am    Post subject: Curtailing our Intrusion! Reply with quote

Thanks Barbara.

I managed to remove the branch from the second swarm late yesterday evening so I've no need to even consider opening them again. . . . So having got over the initial panic and worry I was dealing with it all properly I think I can stand back and watch from afar!!

When I built the TBH I put in observation windows so in a couple of weeks I won't need to open anything at all to monitor that things are happening.

Thanks again
John
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