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Author Topic: piping swarming mating flights and honey surplus  (Read 522 times)
House Bee
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Location: Humboldt Ridgetop CA

Northern California Nature Girl

« on: June 05, 2009, 02:32:45 PM »

Bumping this up from swarming thread below as these issues are on my mind.

I installed 3 packages on completely drawn out comb, with ample honey stores that were left over from my two hives that had dwindled away this spring.

Upon inspection 5 weeks out (May 20th) one hive appeared queenless (...had a small swarm already left?) and there was one queen cell; which the mentor I had inspecting for me (bum knee...completely different story...) cut out (He is of the persuasion that queen cells in general should be removed...completely different discussion...)

When I looked in on them last Thursday, just 8 days after last inspection, there were at least 5 queen cells, two of which were so ripe and ready I swear I could see the queens inside.

I (not realizing these were swarm cells) thought they were/had simply superceded their queen and I just needed to wait and see...

Queen (s) hatched and started piping on Saturday. We really enjoyed hearing that and learning more about it. BUT it didn't sink in when I  read about piping indicating swarming in my oldtimers bee guide by L.L.Langstroth...I was more worried about her killing her foes, taking a mating flight and returning safely.

OF COURSE Tuesday, (the day I am in town) the little buggers swarmed! (right on sched according to Lanstroth "swarming occurs 3 days after piping is heard"...drrrrrr... tongue) I came home to a nearly empty hive!!!

LUCKILY it was a EZ beginner swarm; just 5 ft up in a baby fir tree, and I had a gifted assistant who was calm and quick thinking. We easily transferred an impressive (for package bees 6 weeks old) swarm into a single deep and moved what was left in the old hive, to a nuc with an extra frame of brood/eggs robbed from one of the queenrite hives.

 I still have a burning question about the mating flight. WHEN, in this instance, does it take place?? The day they swarmed? OR Now, this week, AFTER they have swarmed?Huh (rainy and cold now..)

All in all swarming is pretty exciting. And know, I know little about this craft. In fact, the longer I do it, it seems the less I know, and the more variables I am made aware of. And regarding packages swarming less than 8 weeks after installation, my hunch is, that by installing them on drawn comb, with ample stores, I may have encouraged them to swarm...ideas?

BTW lovelovelove this forum. Read something interesting here everyday! cool

Brian D. Bray
Galactic Bee
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Location: Anacortes, WA 98221

I really look like this, just ask Cindi.

« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2009, 03:39:13 PM »

by installing them on drawn comb, with ample stores, I may have encouraged them to swarm

Pretty much, when you install them on drawn comb they will be up and running in a week or 2, if stores are added into the equation then it's a week.  That means you should have supered the minute you saw evidence of brood in the hive.  If one waits then the hive is suddenly overpopulated from hatching brood and hive reverts to swarm mode because of crowding, in this case of both stores and brood.  Supering after a hive has switched to swarm mode will not cause the bees to cease swarming.

"swarming occurs 3 days after piping is heard"

That is the "Ideal established by Langstroth but it isn't necessarily the norm in the real world.  Bees will swarm anytime between the time the queen cells have larvae awash in royal jelly until a week after the new queen has hatched.  It all depends on weather, flow, and how congested the hive is.  Another factor is that the more the queen cells are removed from the hive the sooner they will swarm.  By that I mean if you see queen cells and cut them out, then repeat the procedure, if you see queen cells again the hive has most likely already swarmed.  Removing the queens frustrates the bees making the swarm abscond rather than being the normal swarm.  The hive is then rendered queenless because of the removal of the queen cells.  I've known a lot of beekeepers over the years who were taught, incorrectly, to cut out the queen cells to prevent swarming.  It doesn't prevent swarming but it does promote queenless hives so those beekeepers buy lots of queen every year to replace the ones they destroyed (by removing the cells) and they  don''t or can't make the connection because of what they were taught.

I still have a burning question about the mating flight. WHEN, in this instance, does it take place?? The day they swarmed? OR Now, this week, AFTER they have swarmed?

When the hive swarmed has little to do with when the queen takes her mating flights other than give an approximate time of her hatch (see above).  Under normal conditions a queen will begin her mating flights 3-5 days after emerging from the queen cell.  Weather can delay this however.  The queen will most likely take mating flights for 3-4 days mating multiple times on each outing. See can mate with up to 2 dozen or more drones during that time.  She will then squeeze the excess sperm out of the retention ducts and begin laying eggs using sperm from the mix of all those she mated with.  This is what gives the hive its genetic diversity.

Life is a school.  What have you learned?   Brian      The greatest danger to our society is apathy, vote in every election!
House Bee
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Location: OKC

« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2009, 05:56:30 PM »

In fact, the longer I do it, it seems the less I know

That statement sums up beekeeping!

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