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Author Topic: Hive Swap Disaster  (Read 694 times)
New Bee
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Posts: 26

Location: Wisconsin

« on: June 11, 2009, 10:15:21 PM »

I hived a swarm about a week ago and checked in on them for the first time today. I saw very few bees; maybe enough to cover 3/4 of a medium frame. I did find the queen (happily) and I saw that she did lay a few eggs, but I figured that without a few more bees they'd never build up and would die out. So I swapped hive locations with a much stronger hive a few feet away. That, I think, turned out to be a HUGE mistake. When I checked up on the swarm hive tonight before dark I saw the queen being "balled" on top of the top cover. I didn't quite know what to do about that, so I just closed up the hive and walked away feeling pretty sad and stupid because I think she's dead because of me. Anyway, I swapped the hives back to their original locations to prevent further damage, though the worst of it is probably already done. I suppose there's a slim chance the swarm hive will be able to raise their own queen from one of the eggs, but it would seem to be a long shot if you do the math in terms of how long it will take to raise a queen and get her laying. Anyway, I'm passing my story along so other new beekeepers can potentially learn from my mistake--don't do what I did. Also, if the forum has any advice or can point out the fatal flaw in my location swap plan, I'd appreciate the tutelage. Thank you.
Galactic Bee
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Location: Jenison, MI

Best use of smileys in a post award.

« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2009, 10:55:27 PM »

Who knows, it may all turn out fine.  Perhaps she was not being balled, rather protected?  Check back in a few days and see what is happening.

And if there is eggs, they should get a queen fine.  Sure it sets them back a few weeks, but they can recover.  Swarms (and packages) will sometimes supercede anyway, sometimes the swarm queen is old.

I wouldn't give up hope yet...


Field Bee
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Location: Brisbane, Australia

« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2009, 07:26:04 AM »

Seeing that it is such a small swarm and if it is indeed queenless, I think that I would combine it with the other hive and at some time in the future do a split.

As it stands should it be queenless you stand the likihood of loosing it due to the small numbers and the time it would take to go through the requeening process.

If is queenright however, I would be tempted to take a frame of two of brood from the strong hive and give them (it) to the swarm hive to get a heap of young bees coming on and strengthening the hive up that way. You need to keep an eye on the queen to ensure that she is laying adequately.


On the outer Barcoo where the churches are few,
   And men of religion are scanty,
On a road never cross'd 'cept by folk that are lost,
   One Michael Magee had a shanty.

Now this Mike was the dad of a ten-year-old lad,
   Plump, healthy, and stoutly conditioned;
He was strong as the best, but poor Mike had no rest
   For the youngster had never been christened,
A BUSH CHRISTENING - A.B. "Banjo" Paterson
Galactic Bee
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Location: Randleman, NC

« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2009, 08:31:06 AM »

I think your only mistake was disturbing them so soon. You should wait 3 or more days to let them get accustomed to each other before going into the hive.

"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me . . . Anything can happen, child. Anything can be"

*Shel Silverstein*
Universal Bee
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Posts: 15317

Location: boring, oregon

« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2009, 10:19:00 AM »

if you are going to lose them anyway, there is no harm in trying things.  you learn for the next time, even if this hive fails.

i have done the hive swap and had them be kind of twitchy for a couple of days.  the same reaction you see when there is robbing going on.  then they settle down.  i never thought to look inside, but things worked out ok anyway.

if it looks like they are going to make it and you want to boost them,  give them a nice frame of capped brood and some nurse bees to keep the number up.

.....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
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