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Accommodating a swarm

 
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Jerryburton
New Bee


Joined: 02 May 2015
Posts: 3
Location: Broseley, Shropshire

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 8:32 am    Post subject: Accommodating a swarm Reply with quote

I started keeping bees last year after attending one of Phil's courses. Mild weather in February seemed to get the colony active again but they suffered with subsequent cold weather and steadily declined to the stage where there were only a few left and the hive (top bar) appeared to be getting raided by other bees. I was going to clear out the old comb one the colony had finally died off, as some was pretty dark, had unhatched brood and looked generally unappealing, but yesterday a swarm arrived and took up occupancy. my problem now is should I intervene to clear out as planned, or will the new occupants sort things out by themselves? Jerry
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Adam Rose
Silver Bee


Joined: 09 Oct 2011
Posts: 582
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The new occupants will sort it out. This is what happens in the wild all the time. A colony looking for a home moves into a previously occupied cavity. This is why we put brood comb into bait hives and rub wax and propolis inside the hive, to make it look like a previously occupied hive.

I had a similar situation. The new colony made a nice neat pile of bits of bee bodies and propolis just outside the hive. I collected it, put it in a pan with a bit of wax, and now I have the best smelling swarm lure you can imagine !

Adam.
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Jerryburton
New Bee


Joined: 02 May 2015
Posts: 3
Location: Broseley, Shropshire

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 10:59 am    Post subject: Accommodating a swarm Reply with quote

Thanks Adam, I'll let them get on with it.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Jerry, welcome to the forum and congrats on having a swarm move in. That is a big thumbs up from the bees, so you should feel quite chuffed.

As Adam says, the swarm will clean out and reuse what they can and remove what they don't want.
Often it happens that the first swarm to populate a cavity, don't make it, but their effort of building comb and propolising the hive are their legacy to the next swarm which then has a greater chance of survival because that old comb gets them off to a quicker start. You should have better success with this new colony as a result.

Brood comb becomes discoloured as it has successive generations of brood through it. Beginners often look at 1 year old broody comb and think it is dirty/black because it is discoloured and assume it needs replacing, but that is just well propolised and polished and often better for the bees than pristine new comb as the propolis has health benefits and the old comb is much better at buffering the moisture in the hive particularly during the winter, so please don't make the mistake of applying human sensibilities on cleanliness to bees If it gets to 7-10 years old or so, now that is getting to the point of needing replacing, but even so, it is best done intermittently so that they have a mixture of old and new comb whenever possible.

Best wishes

Barbara
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Jerryburton
New Bee


Joined: 02 May 2015
Posts: 3
Location: Broseley, Shropshire

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 1:18 pm    Post subject: Accommodating a swarm Reply with quote

Thanks Barbara. All very helpful information.
Jerry
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