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Swarm hived 16 days ago no pollen

 
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Harriet15
Nurse Bee


Joined: 26 Apr 2010
Posts: 31
Location: UK, Shropshire, Shrewsbury

PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 5:35 pm    Post subject: Swarm hived 16 days ago no pollen Reply with quote

Hello
I recently hived a prime swarm who are still in situ but not collecting anything. They're in and out when it's been sunny and nice but not bringing anything in at all. Is it a case of being patient? How long should I leave them before getting worried enough to do something? It's been warmish (15-20C) and a few quite wet days. The hive is in quite a sheltered spot, it's not that warm where it is. It's on council land and I'd love to start moving it across to a warmer spot but am awaiting permission.
Any thoughts welcome -the hive which they swarmed from are now getting robbed but that's another story Sad It was all looking lovely last week!
Thanks in advance
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1581
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The weather we have had recently regardless of them being in the shade is not an issue.

I would definitely be worried if you know for sure this was the prime swarm and there is no pollen going in after 16 days. Even a cast swarm should be starting brood by now. It sounds like perhaps the queen got lost or damaged.
Where was the swarm clustered and how did you capture and hive it? (brushing can damage a queen)
How old is the original hive and how was it started.... swarm, nuc, shook swarm? Do you know how old the queen in the swarm might be?
Have they drawn much comb since you hived them?
What are they like temperament wise?
If you give the hive a sharp tap do they hiss and then settle down straight away or grumble on for a while?
Has the original hive thrown any cast swarms since then?
Is the original hive taking pollen in and have you done an inspection of either hive?
Are you able to give them a comb of brood with eggs if they have none?

Sorry, lots of questions and no real answers except perhaps the one you don't want to hear.

Regards

Barbara
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Carl and Petra
Guard Bee


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

PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also had a swarm hived , within a day of yours actually , on the 6th.

As a comparison they were hived in to a Perone hive with only prepped top bars.
In 4 days i saw pollen on its way in and since then every day there has been a fair amount constantly going in.

Sorry to say that in comparison i would be worried. Sorry but i have no suggestions but thought i would just offer the info.
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Harriet15
Nurse Bee


Joined: 26 Apr 2010
Posts: 31
Location: UK, Shropshire, Shrewsbury

PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the replies. I had a gut feeling something was wrong but wanted to be sure before I take the lid off.
In answer to your questions, Barbara:
the swarm was clustered outside the original hive - we had to try several times to get them into the hive. We tried to be as gentle as we could but the queen hung on outside.
The original colony was a nuc which we got in 2012. They've been very robust with a lovely nature.
The original hive has thrown a cast hive since. I tapped the hive the other day and they sound happy enough. I went to check the other hive earlier today and they are being robbed. We've taken some action and they seem to be responding. They've been fine and bringing in loads of pollen up until today's problems.
I haven't done a full inspection of either as I've wanted to give them a chance so don't know if they've drawn any comb or the original hive has any brood comb I can put in. I'm hoping to take delivery of a new nuc on Friday so may have some options then.
Thanks again - I can't begin to tell you how different things seem to be from this time last week.
Harriet
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Harriet15
Nurse Bee


Joined: 26 Apr 2010
Posts: 31
Location: UK, Shropshire, Shrewsbury

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello
An update, I had a quick peek and they've hardly made any comb. Only a very tiny, say 10cm square at most. There's quite a big bundle in there still. They seem happy enough, perhaps a bit edgy but not much later we had an enormous storm.

I checked to see if there was any brood from the original hive but when I got there they were still recovering from some quite organised big black bees having a good go at robbing the hive. I'm hoping we managed to put a stop to it by sheeting the hive over and limiting the entrances but they seemed a bit sucker punched from it all. There are plenty of stores in there but I didn't want to root around too much in there and upset them, they also seemed grumpier than normal but again it was pre storm. They responded well to a tap on the side of the hive.

I'm reluctant to weaken the stronger hive after the last few days they've had. Is it worth buying a queen for the very weak hive? Is it an idea to feed them? I'd like to give them a chance - have I answered my own question?
Thanks again.
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biobee
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Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 1055
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm struggling to understand how they have "plenty of stores" when you say they only have 10 square cm of comb.

And how can you see the comb if they are tightly clustered?

And black bees don't rob...

I suggest you give them some brood and some food.
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Harriet15
Nurse Bee


Joined: 26 Apr 2010
Posts: 31
Location: UK, Shropshire, Shrewsbury

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, I haven't explained myself very well. There are two hives, the original colony is the one that has plenty of stores and was battling the black bees over the last few days. Just over two weeks ago they swarmed. We were able to capture the swarm and I had a spare hive they went into. These are the ones who are struggling and have made the tiny amount of comb. They are clustered at the back corner with some of the comb visible.
I can give them some food first thing. I'll be able to see how the more robust hive is doing again tomorrow and see if brood from that one is an option.
What could the black bees have been doing? They definitely seemed to be upsetting things.
Thanks for everyone's suggestions.
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Dexter's shed
Scout Bee


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

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the second small colony, have the got a queen? where is the original queen? with the stronger hive?
if so, you may have a virgin queen, or queenless, as no pollen normally means no eggs, I personally would be inclined to put them back together via either a paper marriage, or by giving the stronger colony a good spraying with sugar water before tipping the others in

did the smaller group actually swarm away from the hive? or just come outside without swarming as such?
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Harriet15
Nurse Bee


Joined: 26 Apr 2010
Posts: 31
Location: UK, Shropshire, Shrewsbury

PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://s1277.photobucket.com/user/Harriet_Hunt/library/

I'm hoping the link has worked - it's taken a couple of goes. It shows what the bees did on 5 May. These are the ones we put in the new hive. We left them a while - 24 hrs outside of the hive as shown thinking they may go back in or go farther afield but they did neither.
I am reasonably sure the original hive has a queen as apart from the incident with the big black bees in the week they seem happy and organised. They defended themselves well.
The second hive also seem good natured - I think the grumpiness yesterday was down to the thundery weather.
It's difficult to know what to do - the original colony seems quite robust still. I don't want to risk upsetting them too much if the chances of saving the much weaker hive are slim.
Thanks
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Dexter's shed
Scout Bee


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

PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had bees do that in the past, and stay out overnight, a total of three occasions, each time I scoop them up, and back into the same hive, I personally wouldn't say that's a swarm, as they have stayed on the hive
you really need to find out if queens are present in both hives, either by spotting her, or spotting new eggs, using the assumption that they are gentle so they must have one is not good enough, you may like me just have really docile bees, I've watched queen less hives dwindle away to nothing when I was less experienced and didn't want to interfere, it's not nice, I'd suggest putting them back together, even if there was two queens, the stronger one would kill the weaker, not a nice thought, but if it means saving a few hundred over one, I know what I'd be doing
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1581
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder if your original queen that came with the nuc had clipped wings, which is why they swarmed onto the hive and didn't move. It sounds like she may have got damaged or killed during the capture.
If they have only made that tiny amount of comb in 16 days then I'm certain they are queenless and I would unite them with the original hive sooner rather than later otherwise those bees are just wasted. Even if you get a new queen now they have lost a lot of their lifespan and numbers will diminish significantly before they pick up.

Either....

...cut a large hole in a follower and tape a couple of sheets of newspaper over it and cut a slash in it. Put the swarm colony in the back of the original hive with no means of entry or exit with the newspaper follower in between them and the original. Obviously, put the paper follower in place before you put them in.

or....

...dust with icing sugar and tip them into the original colony.

The black bees you are seeing. Are they shiny black? Robbers sometimes get coated in honey when they are robbing and it makes them look much darker than they actually are and shiny. The reason Phil suggests that dark bees are not robbing is that native dark bees are much less likely to rob a live colony than italian's, but that's not to say they won't.

Anyway, I hope you manage to sort them out soon and return to the happy situation you had pre swarm.

Regards

Barbara
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Harriet15
Nurse Bee


Joined: 26 Apr 2010
Posts: 31
Location: UK, Shropshire, Shrewsbury

PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you so much for your thoughts - I've a much clearer idea now of what may have happened. I will try and reunite them as it must be too late now as you say.
The black bees were very big - I wish I'd got a picture.
I'll be upset if the queen's wings were clipped - it is possible though and I never thought to ask.
Thanks again - it's been great to learn more and spend so much more time with them this week even it has been fretting about them Smile
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1581
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Were the black bees not drones attracted to the hive by your virgin queen/s?
I think that is the most likely scenario when you say they are large.
Don't know why I didn't think of that possibility sooner.
If so, obviously trying to exclude them is not a good idea, as you need their services. I know mating doesn't take place in the hive but it means that there are plenty of drones in the vicinity for when she takes her mating flight.

Best wishes

Barbara
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Harriet15
Nurse Bee


Joined: 26 Apr 2010
Posts: 31
Location: UK, Shropshire, Shrewsbury

PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wondered that initially but I'm 99% sure that they weren't drones. They were massive and definately not welcome by the other bees.
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1581
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't think of anything that is black or dark and as big, if not bigger than a drone, that would attack a hive in numbers and as you say they were not welcome, then that rules drones out. I assumed from your initial mention of them that they were just honey bees from another colony. Can you get a photo of one, because perhaps it's something that we should all be aware of.

Regards

Barbara
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Harriet15
Nurse Bee


Joined: 26 Apr 2010
Posts: 31
Location: UK, Shropshire, Shrewsbury

PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wish I had taken a picture. I'm hoping they don't come back but if they do I'll make sure I snap one.
Thanks
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