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Multi cluster mega swarm confusion - please advise!

 
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tai haku
Nurse Bee


Joined: 16 Sep 2015
Posts: 35
Location: guernsey

PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2016 12:17 pm    Post subject: Multi cluster mega swarm confusion - please advise! Reply with quote

A few weeks ago I did a walkaway split on one of my nationals. It was on brood and a half (with supers on top) so I took the super with the queen as the walkaway part of the split. I left the broodbox with a few queen cells rather than culling down to 2 as I have some baithives out and thought it might be better to be safe than sorry in terms of queen production. By my count the queen(s) should be about ready for mating flights now (split on 19th but with quite advanced unsealed queen cells).

Just now the hive swarmed. They dropped into one of my quince trees but in 3 quite distinct clusters about a foot away from each other (each cluster was itself not small - the biggest was nicely chunky). Due to the split I dropped each of the 3 clusters separately into a baithive. I've lined them up a yard or two away from one another (near the settling site) and am assuming that if one doesn't have a queen they will gravate to the box(es) that do.

Was this the right thing to do? Should I have combined them straight away? If they are separate swarms each queenright will they fight/abscond due to the proximity to each other? One does seem to be much more popular than others at present! Any help/thoughts appreciated. Thanks.
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tai haku
Nurse Bee


Joined: 16 Sep 2015
Posts: 35
Location: guernsey

PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2016 12:36 pm    Post subject: Re: Multi cluster mega swarm confusion - please advise! Reply with quote

Update - everything is leaving baitbox 2. Lots of bees in the air(!) but they seem to be congregating around box 1.

2016-06-04_01-35-02

2016-06-04_01-35-32

2016-06-04_01-35-19
[url=https://flic.kr/p/GUc1XG]

[/url]2016-06-04_01-35-26
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Barbara
Site Admin


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

PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2016 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi

If you left the brood box with the queen cells on the original site, so that it retained all of the flying bees and most of the brood, then this is why it has swarmed.....essentially it has seen the removal of the queen part of the split as the prime swarm and these are now casts because there are so many flying bees still in the main hive that they can easily affort to swarm.

It is not unusual to have more than one virgin queen emerge at the same time with a cast swarm and in fact I had one yesterday. I tried to collect them both in the same box but they were having none of it and after several attempts I gave in and went to find another box and they are now each happily settled. I would be surprised if they don't both have a queen although one cluster is probably twice the size of the other.

I think you have done the right thing in also hiving your swarms separately. I'm not sure if it is convenient to you to keep them in their current location next to the Quince but if not then they need to be moved after they have stopped flying tonight and a leafy branch placed over the entrance to cause them to re orientate tomorrow. It's not a problem keeping all 3 next to each other but I would orientate them slightly differently or stick different coloured shapes/symbols next to the entrance to each so that the bees learn to recognise the symbol for their hive. At this time of year, providing there are queens in all 3 and they have successful mating flights, then there is no reason why all 3 should not survive as well as the main colony.
If one or more fail to develop a viable queen, then they can be combined at a later date and having them next to each other will make that easier.

Good luck with them

Barbara
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tai haku
Nurse Bee


Joined: 16 Sep 2015
Posts: 35
Location: guernsey

PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2016 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Barbara - box 2 is now empty and box 1 is filling up. Box 3 has an eggbox sized cluster in it which is holding steady - It is pretty inconvenient where they are so I will have no choice but to move them tonight. As they've gone in my topbar baithives I should probably start to crack on with the full size top bar hive I've been making lists and plans for since April as well!
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tai haku
Nurse Bee


Joined: 16 Sep 2015
Posts: 35
Location: guernsey

PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2016 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Further update: box 3 is now empty also - evidently I got the queen with the first big cluster ans the two ancillary clusters were just hanging out separately for some reason. Makes it a really nice sized swarm so I'm a little worried it might not be too impressed with my 18 inch baithive. Really hoping they stick and we get a mated queen. The other hive looks good; still plenty of bees coming and going. A few more pics:
20160604_123413

20160604_124434
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tai haku
Nurse Bee


Joined: 16 Sep 2015
Posts: 35
Location: guernsey

PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2016 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A second swarm landed in the same branch today. Definitely not the first swarm absconding and I'm not convinced they are from my hive. The first swarm seems happily settled for now. Remarkable how it was positioned in exactly the same place.
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Barbara
Site Admin


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

PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2016 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi.

Pleased the first lot resolved things themselves, Mine did too. After a day of occupying two boxes, one on top of the other, the smaller part of my swarm in the top box have abandoned it and joined the main cluster in the bottom box.

It's no coincidence that the new swarm has alighted in exactly the same location. It is the previous queen's pheromones lingering there that attract them. I've had two swarms on exactly the same part of a hawthorn trunk and two on a slight bend on a hazel bough.
I believe that some old beekeepers used to make use of this phenomenon by squashing a spare virgin queen onto an easily accessible spot within the apiary to attract swarms to it.

Timing wise, it would make sense for this one to also be from your hive I'm afraid, but hopefully it will be the last..... so much for taking swarm prevention measures.... I gave up trying to thwart my bees efforts to swarm about 6 years ago and now just watch and collect swarms.... it's more rewarding and less stressful!.... and less honey to harvest which is a sticky messy job that I particularly dislike although the end product is very enjoyable.

Good luck with your swarms.

Barbara
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tai haku
Nurse Bee


Joined: 16 Sep 2015
Posts: 35
Location: guernsey

PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2016 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Barbara - I figured based on the timing it should be a second cast but we saw absolutely no build up on this one. Admittedly were out for a little while but nothing like yesterday.

I'd heard of swarms repeatedly landing in the same spot but never thought it'd be one of my trees. The quince has more than pulled it's weight this year even if the fruit set has been poor again.
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