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Dealing with Cast Swarms

 
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Mark Young
Scout Bee


Joined: 27 Jan 2011
Posts: 277
Location: High Weald, Kent, England

PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 7:07 am    Post subject: Dealing with Cast Swarms Reply with quote

I was called to a swarm yesterday (it was raining) and when arrived I found a tiny little cast swarm about the size of a large Grapefruit (for lack of a better description Rolling Eyes ) They had also already started to build a piece of comb.
Because of that, I decided to cut the branch either side so it could be masterfully jammed inside an empty poly box and they could remain hanging of the bottom.
I did notice that some of the bees had their stingers on display. whether this was defensive behaviour, exposure related of due to starvation I am not entirely sure. I figured starvation! As I carry a few jars of my own honey in my car I decided to drizzle a tablespoon on the branch. They immediately cleaned up which mad me feel better but they would anyway I suppose...

My question is; How do you deal with a tiny cast swarm, if you even bother at all?
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1563
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't deal any differently with little casts than any other swarm. Put them in a hive and let them get on with it. I've had them that size much later in the season and still do well, so there is every chance these will survive.
As you have realised they may need a bit of feeding, especially as the weather has turned cooler and damp again. Reduce the entrance right down only give them 5 or 6 bars rather than 10 -12. They are surviving out in the open at the moment so giving them a home will be a big leg up and a bit of feeding as a bonus until the weather picks up again. If they have already started building comb then it suggests that they are queenright, so should be good to go with a little help.
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Dexter's shed
Scout Bee


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

PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 10:53 am    Post subject: Re: cast swarm or after swarm Reply with quote

MARK;

I get to collect quite a few cast swarms, and with the addition of some food, they normally go about their duties happily, but they on their own, rarely make it through the winter, I therefore tend to keep an eye for the best queen out of them all, then pinch out the others and combine all casts together to make a bigger colony
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lord tedric
Guard Bee


Joined: 30 Mar 2011
Posts: 79
Location: Moira,Swadlincote,Derbyshire,UK

PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just housed a cast for a local garden project, currently I'm feeding as the weather has been awful, they do seem slow to build comb, but the queen has probably not had a chance to mate so this may have a impact. I am keen to see how they get on as they had a night in the rain before I found out about them.

Dave
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sissyblu
New Bee


Joined: 26 Oct 2012
Posts: 5
Location: North Yorkshire, England

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 7:17 am    Post subject: Virgin Queens Reply with quote

I am fairly sure the bees I collected two weeks ago is a cast swarm. Everything seems to be going well - bees busy foraging during the recent warm and sunny weather, taking in pollen, all buzzing along nicely. Had a look in yesterday and found plenty of stores on nice new comb but NO brood at all. I'm presuming there is a queen because all seems well but that she hasn't mated yet. There are other bee hives in the area within a 3 mile radius from here so I'm hoping there will be drones around to do the business but (a) how long does this usually take and (b) is there anything I can do to increase the chances of this happening?
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Dexter's shed
Scout Bee


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

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 8:38 am    Post subject: Re: Virgin Queens Reply with quote

sissyblu wrote:
I'm presuming there is a queen because all seems well

never,ever ever presume anything, bees will quite happily go about their business without a queen present, it's what bees do



but that she hasn't mated yet. There are other bee hives in the area within a 3 mile radius from here so I'm hoping there will be drones around to do the business but (a) how long does this usually take and

a small cast I recently housed took 4 weeks for the queen to come into lay


(b) is there anything I can do to increase the chances of this happening?

nope, just have patience,
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

give them a home and treat them nice.
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sissyblu
New Bee


Joined: 26 Oct 2012
Posts: 5
Location: North Yorkshire, England

PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Virgin Queens Reply with quote

[quote="Dexter's shed"]
"never,ever ever presume anything, bees will quite happily go about their business without a queen present, it's what bees do"

Thanks, that's really helpful to know that it could take up to 4 weeks but I'm a little puzzled by this comment because I thought that if a hive wasn't 'queen-right' then the bees wouldn't be acting normally at all.

Can you explain to a new-bee like me what else I should be looking for so as to know that a queen is present - other than the obvious (ie trying to spot the queen) when I gather virgin queens are smaller and much more difficult to find in the hive.
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Dexter's shed
Scout Bee


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

PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ok, here's what I do,

collect cast swarm, no matter what type of hive it will eventually go unto, they are always collected first in a paynes 6 frame poly nuc, with no frames

get home and leave opening closed (normally collect late afternoon/evening)

open them the next morning, and add whatever type bars you want, nationals,rose, even top bars can be made to fit, then feed with a sugar syrup 2 pints, that's to give them an easy time to build combs

leave them alone for at least 10 days

leaving them in a poly nuc to start, means inspections are so easy, and queens are easy to spot, after the ten days I would check on how the comb building is going, then check every seven days untill I spot either eggs and or larvae/ worker brood
then I would look for the queen, mark her and the next day, transfer them into their given hive, the rest is up to them

this is what I thought was a cast swarm, but it must be a small prime swarm, as I checked them today, 10 days after collecting, and 5 frames have been built with comb, and I have eggs on two of those frames, way too soon for a virgin queen, so she must of been mated already, these will get put into a rose osb tomorrow

http://youtu.be/1wokfwgEWZc
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heathervale
Nurse Bee


Joined: 19 Jun 2015
Posts: 27
Location: Ireland

PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2015 1:47 pm    Post subject: Cast swarms to strengthen colonies Reply with quote

We now have 3 cast swarms and depleted colonies. Can we simply shake the cast swarms back into the hives????
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Dexter's shed
Scout Bee


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

PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2015 5:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Cast swarms to strengthen colonies Reply with quote

heathervale wrote:
We now have 3 cast swarms and depleted colonies. Can we simply shake the cast swarms back into the hives????


not without making the hive queenless, or if it's a good queen, then squish the cast queen, then do a paper marriage or similar
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heathervale
Nurse Bee


Joined: 19 Jun 2015
Posts: 27
Location: Ireland

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2015 5:58 pm    Post subject: Cast swarms Reply with quote

Thanks for your reply. It really is wonderful to be able to ask questions and have them answered.
We have put our 3 cast swarms into the ends of the hives with a view to combining at a later stage, but there is no room to feed them. How essential is feeding? There is Fuchsia,Heather and blackberry flowers in abundance.
Where would it be best to post questions of an urgent nature?
Loved catching the cast swarms, all very exciting, only hope the bees manage.
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ingo50
Scout Bee


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

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2015 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Last week I had a small cast swarm, size of grapefruit which I put into a polynuc, that had bees in it before, so hopefully had the right smell. They absconded two days later. I think they had already found their choice home elsewhere.
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Dexter's shed
Scout Bee


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

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2015 9:03 pm    Post subject: Re: Cast swarms Reply with quote

heathervale wrote:
but there is no room to feed them. How essential is feeding? There is Fuchsia,Heather and blackberry flowers in abundance.
Where would it be best to post questions of an urgent nature?
Loved catching the cast swarms, all very exciting, only hope the bees manage.


feeding is not so important as a feed, it's important as it help's the bees build comb quickly for the queen to lay in, so for cast swarms going into a new hive with no drawn comb, it's very important
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heathervale
Nurse Bee


Joined: 19 Jun 2015
Posts: 27
Location: Ireland

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2015 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you mean a one -off feed? The problem is where to put the sugar syrup as there is only room for the 5 top bars. Our normal feeding station of upside down jars takes up about the space of 3 top bars!
Any suggestions of how else to feed them and is it OK to disturb them?
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1563
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2015 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to disagree with Dexter's Shed. Feeding is just not necessary. They already have honey in their stomachs to last them a few days, so a one off feed is pointless unless they have been out of the hive for several days and are running on empty.
Feeding them over a longer period of time also isn't necessary when there is nectar available. There is no race to build a hive full of comb. If they build 5, that is enough to over winter on. In this case, they are restricted space wise anyway, so a rapidly expanding colony is probably more of a problem, than them not building enough. It sounds like they are going to be reunited with the parent colony or another colony later in the summer anyway, so lack of size will not be a problem.
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heathervale
Nurse Bee


Joined: 19 Jun 2015
Posts: 27
Location: Ireland

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2015 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks Barbara, you have understood our situation perfectly Smile
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heathervale
Nurse Bee


Joined: 19 Jun 2015
Posts: 27
Location: Ireland

PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of our cast swarms that was caught and shaken into the end of one hive, swarmed again yesterday, so we caught it and put it back!

Given the lack of space, how soon can we recombine the colonies? When would be best for them?

We will build more Tbh asap but won't be for another month at least.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1563
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is this a cast swarm that you just hived the other day ie has it absconded or has it filled up all the available space with comb brood and nectar and swarmed because it has run out of space? How much room did you give it?

Did you create a "no mans land" in between the two colonies using 2 follower boards? If not, that might cause the smaller colony to abscond.
Am I right in guessing that you have the main colony in the centre of the hive rather than in one end? If so, you will need to move the main colony along to one end if you intent to use the other end.

Better to put them into a planter and give them their own space. A plastic planter will cost you a fiver and all you need to do is drill or cut a hole in the side and put top bars across the top and make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom because it can get a bit damp and smelly in there if condensation can't drain out.

Putting them back is not solving the problem of why they left and so they will most likely just leave again.
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heathervale
Nurse Bee


Joined: 19 Jun 2015
Posts: 27
Location: Ireland

PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmmm.....it is a cast swarm hived the day before that absconded, but fingers crossed, it seems to have settled in today...

The main colony is in the middle but there is another cast swarm already in the other end! Also we had already split the main colony down the middle with a follower board so each half has one entrance hole.(ie the middle hole is plugged)

None of these 4(!) colonies has any more than one follower board between each of them!

It all feels rather chaotic but we haven't actually lost any bees yet!
Will try to buy planter this evening to move at least one swarm to leave room to expand others...We have given each swarm 5 top bars.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1563
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh dear! You really are setting yourself up for trouble, trying to pack 4 small colonies into one hive like that. None of them have room to grow and you don't have room to work.
I would buy two planters and move two of them..... unless it's a 6 ft hive or something?
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Definately asking for trouble there in the long run my friend. Amazed you managed it but get yourself some hives built ASAP. Even if it is a temp measure and you build something more substantial ready for winter.
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heathervale
Nurse Bee


Joined: 19 Jun 2015
Posts: 27
Location: Ireland

PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Indeedy! Will buy planters and get building asap!
When can we combine? We would like to end up with 3 strong colonies in 3 hives.....

Thanks for help people!
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