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Author Topic: First swarm call  (Read 903 times)
slaphead
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« on: May 17, 2009, 01:01:11 AM »

Received the call at 8:00 pm this evening from a neighbor at the community garden.

It sounded almost too good to be true "They're in a willow at about waste height"

And sure enough 20 minutes later I found the clustered swarm, as promised, about 4 feet off the ground in a willow.  Not a huge swarm but a nice compact pile of tiny bees clustered around a large (3" diameter) and smaller branch.

Placed a box with frames beneath them and gave the branch a sharp jerk.  Perhaps 90% dropped straight into the box, hurray!

Unfortunately 10 to 15 mins later it became apparent they weren't going to stay and back to the branch they went, drat.

Meanwhile it's getting dark.

Okay, thinks I, I'll cut the branches and lay them on top of the frames.

Well, that was a bit of a mistake.  I'm not sure if it was because it was getting dark or they just objected to my starting to cut my way in so that I could get to the branch they were on, but I received 6 stings to the right hand and one to the left in zero seconds flat.  If I'd not suited up I'd be a real mess right now.

At this point I decided to call it quits for the night and left the box under the cluster for tomorrow morning.  It' stacked on top of two other boxes to get it off the ground so I'm hoping they'll be safe if they happened to change their mind after I left.

Any and all pointers on what I did wrong will be greatly appreciated.

A somewhat swollen SH
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patook
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« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2009, 01:23:44 AM »

I had a similar experience on a swarm (minus the stings). They ran out of the box like someone pulled the fire alarm. I considered that to mean they did not have a queen. In my case, I was able to cut the branch the first time so I got 100% of the bees so I assumed the swarm was queenless.  Eventually I screened in the entrance,  dumped the bees in and quickly covered them.  I put in a frame of brood and a feeder with 1:1 to "lock" them in. and left them overnight with the screen. The next day they seemed fine, but were in fact queenless.

You need to give them brood, otherwise they will just rob honey and leave.
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slaphead
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« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2009, 02:04:43 PM »

Thanks Patook.

I checked them early this morning and found half the swarm in the box, drawing out two frames, and the other half hanging off the tree limb!  If I hadn't seen them altogether in one cluster last night I would have said they were two separate swarms.  Recent postings on Beemaster have mentioned swarms can contain multiple queens.  Do you think that might be what's going on here or is it more likely the swarms in the process of moving into the box?

Thanks,

SH


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Robo
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« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2009, 04:21:55 PM »

Build yourself a bee vac.  I get every swarm the first time with one  Wink
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patook
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« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2009, 07:30:41 PM »

I agree Robo. I plan to build the bee-vac that is a modified BB and top to suck them right into the hive. I think that is the same as the one you have.
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slaphead
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« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2009, 01:15:03 AM »

I'll definitely look into a beevac and a good pair of beekeeping gloves  Smiley, thanks.

This story has a happy ending. 

The swarm migrated into the box (a 5 frame Nuc) over the course of the morning and I picked them up after dark this evening.  I was surprised to find them still going to and fro from the hive at 8:45 pm but as soon as true dusk fell they went to bed and I was able to quickly seal them up and wrap the hive with tape for the journey home.  They're in the apiary now with a branch in front of the reopened exit to promote reorientation. 

This was my first swarm capture.  It wasn't how I imagined it would be and in hindsight I made the whole thing harder than it needed to be.  But, they're in the box in my front yard and I'm feeling pretty good about it.  Now if the hands would just shrink back down to normal and stop itching.... grin

SH
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G3farms
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« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2009, 07:25:39 AM »

Glad you got a swarm put up. Way to go.

G3
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justgojumpit
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« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2009, 08:06:28 AM »

I got a swarm last night too.  I took one sting, but only because I got a bee between my finger and the pruning shears!

I could imagine the sawing that you did irritated the bees.  Even the vibrations from the pruning shears cutting the shoots on the forsythia my swarm was on irritated the bees a little.  However, when the wind starting whipping the bush around like crazy, the bees seemed to think that was quite normal... go figure!

justgojumpit
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thomashton
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« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2009, 07:36:50 PM »

Way to go.

I am actually away from home right now with the Army and have been since early February. I'll be home by the 4th of July, but my wife told me that I got no less than three swarm calls this week including one that was fairly rude to her. What a shame I missed them.

Now I log in here and don't see my name on the swarm map. Did that rude fellow turn around and complain about me not being able to come and get his swarm and get me kicked off?
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2009, 11:03:57 PM »

When shaking a swarm off a branch into a hive or box only about 50% of the bees will land in the box the 1st time around.  Usually the queen will be one of those as she is surrounded by a ball of bees that are protecting her so she's not able to catch herself with her wings and fly back to the branch.  If she likes the digs she'll stay, at least temporarily. 
I've shaken the same branch as many as 20 times (large swarm) to get 90% of the bees into the hive.  Each time the branch is shaken a certain portion of the bees stay in the hive and the rest return to the branch.  The amount of bees on the branch gets smaller and smaller. 
If you have 70-80% of the bees in the box, and they are staying there, especially if they are faning, then you know the queen is probably inside and that the remaining bees will either enter the hive or return to their home hive.
If you can get them to stay in the box long enough to place a frame of brood you usually have the swarm completely captured. 
I've seen swarms abscond to a preferred location over the hive they were put in as much as a week later but if they're still in the box after 3 days and a frame of brood is added they almost never abscond.
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