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Author Topic: My hive swarmed but returned  (Read 2152 times)

Offline Rex

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My hive swarmed but returned
« on: March 29, 2009, 03:44:47 PM »
I went out to view my hive yesterday and saw what looked to be an orientation flight going on.  As I sat and watched it got bigger and bigger.  This was the biggest orientation I had ever seen.  Then I noticed that bees were flying in a cloud over the house and it was clear this was no orientation flight.  They were swarming!

I followed the cloud out into the front yard where they settled on a branch of a tree.  I figured I would attempt to recapture them but before I could gather my veil and gloves and a box to put them in, they were on the move again.  I watched as they moved around and then after about 10 minutes they resettled at their original branch location.  I still needed to find a ladder, so I went to a neighbor to borrow one.  By the time I got back with the ladder, the bees were on the move again and it seemed like the front yard was filled with bees.

This time, the bees were aggressive and I hadn't yet dressed out in my gear :(  I took a sting on the cheek and one on the ear before I retreated into the house.  The bees were up over the roof again.  By the time I had performed some quick first-aid to my head and gone outside again, I had lost track of them. 

No sign of them in the front yard.  With proper gear on now I went out to the back yard to look for them, and saw that the hive boxes were covered with bees.  It looked like the queen had returned to the hive.  Within 15 minutes the bees had all gone inside and were calming down.  At that point I set up an empty brood box a few feet away in hopes that if the queen tries again she'll pick the empty box for a home.

Has anyone else seen a swarm return to the hive like this?

Offline BjornBee

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Re: My hive swarmed but returned
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2009, 07:59:15 PM »
Sure have.

I'd be looking for swarm cells tomorrow and creating an artificial swarm first thing in the morning. Otherwise, all those bees will be probably gone tomorrow.
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Offline JP

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Re: My hive swarmed but returned
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2009, 08:05:15 PM »
Sure have.

I'd be looking for swarm cells tomorrow and creating an artificial swarm first thing in the morning. Otherwise, all those bees will be probably gone tomorrow.

Move quicly, you have very little time, as mentioned.


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Offline Bee-Bop

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Re: My hive swarmed but returned
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2009, 10:24:37 PM »
Question;
BjornBee & JP

Would this be a sign that the Queen did not leave with the swarm, this time,
and they returned to the hive to get her to leave ??

Thanks
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Offline BjornBee

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Re: My hive swarmed but returned
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2009, 11:11:52 PM »
Certainly could be an explanation.

I have often wondered if a change in pressure from a far off storm, the bees getting a late start in the day, or something else just made them think heading back to the hive is a good option. I know a queenless swarm could be an option, but know that I have seen queens reenter the hive also with such swarms. Of course when they are queenless, you just assume you missed the queen... ;)

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Offline JP

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Re: My hive swarmed but returned
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2009, 12:16:57 AM »
Unless the weather got screwy I would say they came back looking for the queen.

I've seen caught swarms try to leave but came back to the catch box because the queen was caged. This happened about three weeks ago in fact. Had one last yr I believe it was leave and hit the air but knew they had to come back cause the queen was caged. Watched them go back in and then try it again about a half hour later.


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Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: My hive swarmed but returned
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2009, 12:28:16 AM »
These False swarms can occur for several reasons the most common one of which is that the queen decided to stay behind.  The cause of that can range from clipped wings to unhatched replacement to the queen still being to heavy to fly.

A false swarm can also occur in the case of a second queen hatching when the 1st hatched queen returns from a mating flight.  Newly emerged queens can and do miss destroying some queen cells, this is one of the causes of after swarms.  The other cause is stepped queen cells where the total number of queen cells were created over a period of weeks so that the later hatching queens are not developed sufficiently to be noticed by the new queen.

Once a false swarm is noted it is best to do a physical split of the hive.  Look for hatching queen cells or multiple queens.  I've had queen cells hatch in my hand doing splits as a result of a false swarm. 

Sometimes the worker bees will keep a queen trapped in it's cell in favor of a different emerging queen.  The hatching can trigger the bees may try to get the old queen to try to swarm, if she hasn't already, in anticipation of the hatching queen, or the presence of 2 simulatious hatching queens can create a virgin swarm that ends when the 2 queens meet and duke it out.

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Offline mick

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Re: My hive swarmed but returned
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2009, 01:08:36 AM »
Sounds like they realised their escape had been spotted so they returned  :-D Better keep an eye on them. Those orientation flights can be easily mistakem for swarming IMO, but Ive learnt that my bees do orientation around 3 hours before sunset, far too late to swarming.

Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: My hive swarmed but returned
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2009, 09:09:26 PM »
Sounds like they realised their escape had been spotted so they returned  :-D Better keep an eye on them. Those orientation flights can be easily mistakem for swarming IMO, but Ive learnt that my bees do orientation around 3 hours before sunset, far too late to swarming.

That's what you think, when a new queen hatches the old lady leaves in a hurry up to sundown.  They won't swarm at night but I've seem them swarm at 7-8 pm during the summer when the daylight last until 10 pm PDT.
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Offline DayValleyDahlias

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Re: My hive swarmed but returned
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2009, 09:13:34 PM »
hhhmmm i think they clicked their ruby slippers together, that would be my guess...

Offline Rex

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Re: My hive swarmed but returned
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2009, 11:34:45 PM »
Thanks everyone for the advice!

Offline BjornBee

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Re: My hive swarmed but returned
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2009, 11:44:44 PM »
Thanks everyone for the advice!

So what happened today?  :idunno:
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Offline Rex

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Re: My hive swarmed but returned
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2009, 12:49:25 AM »
An update:  I inspected the hive late yesterday and found a sealed queen cell at the bottom of the the 2nd frame in the upper deep box. Many uncapped and capped brood amongst the two brood boxes, the pattern seemed normal. 

Today I looked through both boxes, but didn't find the queen.  This was the first inspections I've done since last November.  I'm hesitant to do a split or an imitation swarm without knowing where the queen is.  Hive activity is up, and there seems to be some bearding even though the temperatures aren't much over 65F.

Online kathyp

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Re: My hive swarmed but returned
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2009, 12:54:50 AM »
why didn't you just pull that frame with the queen cell and a couple of frames of workers and make a nuc?  or do you think they already swarmed and you missed it?  something is going to give when that queen comes out, if not before.
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Offline doak

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Re: My hive swarmed but returned
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2009, 01:07:00 AM »
Being not sure now if they did indeed swarm, I'd go kathyp's route and make a nuc. Then take a
frame of eggs and young from another strong colony and put in this hive you take the queen cell from.
Queens will quit laying a few days before they swarm, there fore leaving no eggs to make another Queen. try it, you'll like it. :)doak

Offline Rex

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Re: My hive swarmed but returned
« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2009, 02:03:29 AM »
Can definitely give that a shot (making a nuc) tomorrow if the queen cell is still intact.  This is my only hive, however, so taking frames from another strong hive is not an option.

Offline catfishbill

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Re: My hive swarmed but returned
« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2009, 10:09:06 AM »
had it happen to me yesterday.working some other hives in bee yard and the italians decided it was time to go.first time i had ever seen a swarm come out of a hive.i could not get over how loud it was.chased them around for about 3 1/2 hrs before they settled down.when they got on the grnd scooped them up and the march in the box started.took couple frames of good brood from original hive and put in box and all were in in about 1/2 hr.good luck getting them calmed down.i don't know if this is the correct thing to do,but i would think you could put queen excluder on bottom board for couple of days till ready to split or get equipment ready and make them stay.   bill

Online kathyp

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Re: My hive swarmed but returned
« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2009, 11:06:51 AM »
what we won't do for our bees!  the excluder on the bottom works.  several here put that idea out and it's a great one.  especially when you are catching swarms.

rex, at best you'll end up with two hives.  if splitting them doesn't work, you can always put them back together.  either way, you learn something new!
.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville

Offline Rex

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Re: My hive swarmed but returned
« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2009, 10:54:00 PM »
Great advice!  This afternoon, I opened the hive and found 4-5 swarm cells still all capped and apparently waiting to hatch.  Do the bees ever cap ones that aren't occupied?

I put the frames (bees and all) into a drawn out 10 frame box I had, swapping out the empty frames between the two hives.  Looked hard for the queen and didn't see her on any of the frames I moved.  I'm excited to see what happens :)

Offline annette

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Re: My hive swarmed but returned
« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2009, 12:33:50 AM »
How exciting Rex!!!  I want to know what happens with your new splits. Keep us posted here OK??

 

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