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NZBF My first swarm. Very exciting but have I done everything right?

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Very exciting to see and catch my first swarm - 4 huge bundles in a low tree - I managed to put them in a spare brood box and I sealed it up. Then realised that I probably want to give them a bit more air and some frames to start up with so went in quick as I could to add frames and open front. Pretty much the whole swarm then decided to take off again but they shortly returned either to that box or their old hive. I'm assuming queen is still there in one of them... Any advice or thing to do from here? I'm thinking leave them alone for a week or so and then see what they're up to...

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Leave the box at the site of you plan to have the hive, don't seal it. If the queen is there they will stay and begin drawing comb etc. Try to put 10 frames in to the box. That will increase the surface area and give the bees more room within the box itself. May be feed them a ziplock baggie with a 1:1 sugar:water by weight solution. Fill the bag and make small slits in it once you place the bag on top of the frames. This should stimulate comb drawing.

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No, don't feed it for a week - we had a swarm collected before Xmas 2014 in Dunedin which was fed from the beginning, and developed AFB. Even though this is but one case, it reinforces the advice of letting the adult bees use up the honey they have brought along, to draw comb. Hopefully larvae will not be exposed to the AFB spores.

 

Swarms are great fun, aren't they ?

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No, don't feed it for a week - we had a swarm collected before Xmas 2014 in Dunedin which was fed from the beginning, and developed AFB. Even though this is but one case, it reinforces the advice of letting the adult bees use up the honey they have brought along, to draw comb. Hopefully larvae will not be exposed to the AFB spores.

 

Swarms are great fun, aren't they ?

That's why I feed with sugar solution - there will be no AFB in the food. I wouldn't think the honey taken by the swarm would draw much comb at all. Isn't the rule of thumb 5 or 7lbs of honey to draw 1lb of comb?

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Very exciting to see and catch my first swarm - 4 huge bundles in a low tree - I managed to put them in a spare brood box and I sealed it up. Then realised that I probably want to give them a bit more air and some frames to start up with so went in quick as I could to add frames and open front. Pretty much the whole swarm then decided to take off again but they shortly returned either to that box or their old hive. I'm assuming queen is still there in one of them... Any advice or thing to do from here? I'm thinking leave them alone for a week or so and then see what they're up to...

Swarm from your own colonies?

Where in Auckland are you?

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That's why I feed with sugar solution - there will be no AFB in the food. I wouldn't think the honey taken by the swarm would draw much comb at all. Isn't the rule of thumb 5 or 7lbs of honey to draw 1lb of comb?

I think the concern is that they bees draw down the sugar syrup and store it, along with the honey they have brought along, and feed it to the larvae later on.

That's the logic, and makes sense, but may make little difference.

Thanks.

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Yeah, great fun. I put my varroa treatment in a couple of weeks ago and saw that my second hive was brimming - was going to have a look at them this arvo but they beat me to it. So, yes, my own bees - a lot seem to have returned to their old hive. A few stragglers still flying about wondering where on earth everyone else has gone.

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Yeah, great fun. I put my varroa treatment in a couple of weeks ago and saw that my second hive was brimming - was going to have a look at them this arvo but they beat me to it. So, yes, my own bees - a lot seem to have returned to their old hive. A few stragglers still flying about wondering where on earth everyone else has gone.

@Guy do you have a plan to stop them swarming ?

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Again? Do you mean the old hive? Not really. I'm into 14 day inspection so thought I'd have a look at both older hives tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be able to tell if the queen has left home and judge numbers - give them another brood box if they need the extra space. What would you advise?

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Again? Do you mean the old hive? Not really. I'm into 14 day inspection so thought I'd have a look at both older hives tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be able to tell if the queen has left home and judge numbers - give them another brood box if they need the extra space. What would you advise?

Which suburb in Auckland?

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Hello @Guy just to clarify a swarm should go onto frames with foundation only so that the bee's draw wax. Don't put in frames with drawn comb.

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Tudor got me paranoid so I decided to pop out and finish off the inspections. The new hive was very quiet so I had a quick peek and it was pretty much empty - they had all returned to the old hive. So, would the old queen have returned too? I couldn't see her, mostly because she isn't marked. Within the hive were about 10 queen cells in a variety of stages but now I'm reluctant to remove them given that I don't know if there is a queen. Should I split the hive, putting queen cells, capped cells (plenty of those) and some brood in the now empty box?

 

@Pbee - Browns Bay. Why?

@Grant - yep, used frames with foundations

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I think the concern is that they bees draw down the sugar syrup and store it, along with the honey they have brought along, and feed it to the larvae later on.

That's the logic, and makes sense, but may make little difference.

Thanks.

That makes sense.

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Tudor got me paranoid so I decided to pop out and finish off the inspections. The new hive was very quiet so I had a quick peek and it was pretty much empty - they had all returned to the old hive. So, would the old queen have returned too? I couldn't see her, mostly because she isn't marked. Within the hive were about 10 queen cells in a variety of stages but now I'm reluctant to remove them given that I don't know if there is a queen. Should I split the hive, putting queen cells, capped cells (plenty of those) and some brood in the now empty box?

 

@Pbee - Browns Bay. Why?

@Grant - yep, used frames with foundations

Given they have swarmed at least once the urge is possibly still there. Maybe try a split along the lines you suggest and leave some queen cells behind in case there's no viable queen in the old hive.

 

To improve numbers you could swap the old hive with the new hive so foragers return to the old hive spot and add numbers to what is the understrength hive.

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@Guy Provided you still have a queen, there is no doubt they will swarm again at the first opportunity, probably tomorrow, and you'll have several swarms next week from the swarm cells that are left.

 

You note that you may not be able to find the queen, in which case I suggest this method (linked below) if you want to be sure of preventing the swarms.

Document: - Modified Artificial swarm (Swarm Control)

 

14 days is too long between inspections for a novice that has a colony likely to swarm, it only take nine days for a colony to swarm.

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The 14 days is for my usual inspections. For this I was intending to back back in next week.

 

Rightly or wrongly I have split the hive, taking as much care as I could to ensure a queen didn't get into the new hive. In it i've put some frames of capped cells and larvae etc, and queen cells (none of which had been sealed yet), and I added some brood of course. My hope is that this will be enough to stave off a swarm until next weekend where I can check for new eggs in both hives. Is it usual for a queen to return to her original hive? I'm at home for the next couple of days so can react to any swarms in the immediate. If I do have another swarm in the next few days then can I recombine the split and try putting the swarm back into the new hive box?

 

Then, if I have the same problem of swarm returning to the old hive I'll give the above method a go...

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The 14 days is for my usual inspections. For this I was intending to back back in next week.

 

Rightly or wrongly I have split the hive, taking as much care as I could to ensure a queen didn't get into the new hive. In it i've put some frames of capped cells and larvae etc, and queen cells (none of which had been sealed yet), and I added some brood of course. My hope is that this will be enough to stave off a swarm until next weekend where I can check for new eggs in both hives. Is it usual for a queen to return to her original hive? I'm at home for the next couple of days so can react to any swarms in the immediate. If I do have another swarm in the next few days then can I recombine the split and try putting the swarm back into the new hive box?

 

Then, if I have the same problem of swarm returning to the old hive I'll give the above method a go...

In your split, you will want to destroy all but two of the best looking queen cells. Leave more than that and the split may swarm

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The only queen that will return to her hive is a virgin out in a test flight , or mating flight.

A mature swarming queen will fly with bees looking for a new home , leaving the new queen behind.

Or, one or many Virgin queens can swarm.

Several scenarios to choose from

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OK, thanks, I'll pop back in to destroy some of the queen cells. Probably when my other hive swarms again tomorrow :)

 

So, why did they all return to the hive? They had a lovely new home to set up in! Have I lost that queen?

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So, why did they all return to the hive? They had a lovely new home to set up in! Have I lost that queen?

Practice flight. They probably all took off and left the queen behind, so went home again. They won't stay in the new box without the queen . She will still be there......... for now

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Ah, OK, so there was no queen in that swarm? And those bees were always going to return? Would this explain why there were 4 or 5 clumps of bees rather than one? I hope they try to gather in the same place as today when they swarm next - there are some very tall trees nearby...

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Ah, OK, so there was no queen in that swarm? And those bees were always going to return? Would this explain why there were 4 or 5 clumps of bees rather than one?
Yep, that's how I've interpreted the situation. :)

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Hi @Guy you are working hard. I'll send you the chapter on my new book "Easy Bee keeping for hobbyists in NZ" on swarms in a day or so.

 

To summarise where you are, the bees are in swarming mode, and you can only switch them off by a manipulation which removes the stimulus. And that it is due to lots of bees, little space, nectar coming in and occupying laying space, and queen prepared for swarming by the bees.

The method is to separate the queen and foragers from the brood, and there are many methods.

The simplest is to move the "old hive" a few feet away (unpacked), put a new base on its old footprint, put a box (A) there, and aim to have the queen in that box with one frame with some open brood, and no other brood at all, and no swarm cells. Fill with some drawn and some foundation combs.

Then either: repack the old hive on its new site which can be anywhere in the apiary that is convenient, consisting of bottom board, all the brood and stores, and 2 open swarm cells. Note that these frames will all be covered with nurse bees, and as any foragers at home fly out they will go back to the old site.

Or put a split board (hive mat with a good nip out) on top of box (A) with the opening facing backwards and upwards, and put all the brood and stores there and 2 open swarm cells. Note that these frames will all be covered with nurse bees, and as any foragers at home fly out they will go back to the old site.

The split will only have nurse bees, but lots of stores, and the nurses will mature day by day. Swarm cells will be capped and the first should open and sting the other.

You will need to check both the old and new hives in a few days (5-6) to find the swarm cells you have missed, or have been made by the bees.

I'll have more detail of how to do it if you can't find the queen.

And make sure you have some swarm cells preserved, maybe in a nuc, don't destroy them all until you have achieved this Artificial Swarm.

 

Do you have Full Depth or 3/4 brood boxes ?

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Thanks for this @tudor I have full depth. I have always had problems finding the queen. And there are soooo many bees...

 

Presume it's ok to do this tomorrow even though I've been in and around a lot today?

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Tomorrow ok

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