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Is it a swarm?!

 
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mrspicklebockle
House Bee


Joined: 20 Mar 2011
Posts: 23
Location: Bristol, UK

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 1:44 pm    Post subject: Is it a swarm?! Reply with quote

For the last two weeks my bees have been gathering en masse underneath the mesh floor of my horizontonal hive and also at the entrance. At first I presumed they needed more space but they have the full width of the hive. So I then thought they were gearing up for swarming but just hadn't left yet due toy bad weather! Today there are masses and masses of bees in groups, under the hive, on the roof, on the floor in front of the hive and by the entrance. Much more than before. But once again they aren't leaving. Im confused?! Anyone else have any ideas on what they could be doing other than swarming?
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Carl and Petra
Guard Bee


Joined: 29 Jun 2011
Posts: 74
Location: Blandford. Dorset. England

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From my limited experience of watching my bees preparations for swarming from my top bar over the last 2 years i would say they are getting geared up to swarm.

Mine did much the same, and to throw me off the track they all then stopped doing so and on looking at the hive all was normal but within half hour they were out and flying round the garden en-masse.

As to likelyhood of swarming, i am in Blandford, you are only in Bristol and mine have already swarmed.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1567
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi

Firstly, can you confirm that there is no fighting going on?

Secondly can you check to see if there has been any comb collapse?

Thirdly, how was this hive started? If it was a nuc or shook swarm/package could the queen you got with it be clipped? If so, it could be that she tried to swarm, landed on the ground and climbed up the hive leg. They might even be building comb from the mesh because she isn't able to go elsewhere. The other clusters today could be cast swarms. I've certainly had them cluster on the roof and sometimes go back in and come out again the next day. Several different clusters could well be several virgin queens.

Have you inspected them recently? If so when and what did you see?

Do you have any spare hives/bait hives ready. If the cluster under the hive does not go back inside on a night I would say it is most likely a swarm and I would scrape it off into a bait hive or use a planter with top bars on it if you don't have anything prepared.

Good luck and let us know how you get on.

Regards

Barbara
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mrspicklebockle
House Bee


Joined: 20 Mar 2011
Posts: 23
Location: Bristol, UK

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks to both for replying.

Firstly, can you confirm that there is no fighting going on?
pretty sure no fighting

Secondly can you check to see if there has been any comb collapse?
no comb collapse form what I can see

Thirdly, how was this hive started?
Its a swarm thats in its 3rd season- no clipped queen as the requeened last season


Have you inspected them recently?
If so when and what did you see?
I inspected a couple of weeks ago and there were def queen cells. Everything else looked as it should though, except that they were v v full. I gave them more space then and then gave them more last week- Ive just had a v quick look at they are not using the new space I gave them at the end of the hive. There are (at 7pm at night) no clusters now left except for 1 under the mesh floor where many remain. Im pretty sure they didn't swarm today as hive is still so full looking through the window and I hung out outside a lot.

Do you have any spare hives/bait hives ready. If the cluster under the hive does not go back inside on a night I would say it is most likely a swarm and I would scrape it off into a bait hive or use a planter with top bars on it if you don't have anything prepared.
But why would a swarm hang out under the existing colony for such a time? Ive never heard of this happening before- I feel like I'm missing something. Im nervous to rehouse the cluster if theres a chance it could be part of the existing colony.

Id appreciate any extra help you could give me
Thanks v much
Misty
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mannanin
Scout Bee


Joined: 25 Feb 2009
Posts: 259
Location: Essex. UK.

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think they will be swarming very soon. You say you have given them plenty of space. Did you just place empty bars at the end of the brood nest? If they are not expanding into that area, my guesss is that they have already made all their swarm preperations and have no intention of expanding but will be off soon. Just my view, but you did the right thing by giving them space, its just that you gave them space in the wrong place! You could have interspersed bars within the brood area which would have been better. I just have that feeling that it may all be too late for swarm prevention. Just get your swarm catcher kit ready and go with the flow.
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would be looking at putting the cluster hanging under the hive into its own box.

Cheers
Rob.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1567
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My concern was that if the queen was clipped or damaged she had tried to swarm, dropped to the ground and then crawled up the hive leg and clustered under the hive for shelter. If she was not able to fly anywhere else then they might have decided to build around her out in the open. These things can occasionally happen although certainly not the norm.

If they have been there for 2 weeks and have not built comb then it is not a swarm but it is difficult to assess these things without seeing them. Size is relevant. Is it a "gathering" of a hundred or so bees or several thousand?

Anyway, I think most likely the others are right and they haven't swarmed yet, but it is imminent.

The thing about bees is that there is no rule book for them. They work to suit themselves and the prevailing conditions and rarely will two colonies behave the same even in the same location, so what you or I see as unusual, might be perfectly normal for them.

Hope you are able to spend the day at home today as I think there may be fun and games!

Good luck

Barbara

PS. There is no harm brushing them off into a container if you think they are a swarm and it turns out not to be, as they will just leave the box and head home again, but I think the situation will most likely resolve itself today.
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biobee
Site Admin


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

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When you said that there were several queen cells, what stage were they at? Were any of them close to being sealed?

If the hive is crowded, this may be a 'practice swarm', just biding their time.

Otherwise, if one or more cells have already been sealed, it may be a swarm with the mother queen, preparing to leave and waiting for a gap in the weather...

As Winnie the Pooh said...
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