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Author Topic: swarm disaster  (Read 3573 times)
bee-nuts
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« on: June 19, 2009, 02:55:44 AM »

My buddy called me at work and sayx, "I went through my hive yesterday and I already have three boxes full of honey 3/4 capped". 

I thought oh crap,  I added a honey super on my hives and like an idiot a queen excluder.  This was memorial day.  I rushed to my hives the next morning knowing that my inspections had no comb drawn in my honey supers.  So I knew that they were likely honey domed and getting ready to swarm. 

Too late all swarmed leaving me with no capped brood, larva, or eggs.  None, only six or eight caped drone cells left.  Hached queen cells in all hives.  An absolute disaster. 

I now know I should have never put the QE's on before comb was drawn and honey being put up yet it still makes no sense.  How on earth can all hives (3) swarm like clock work in  23 days.  This would mean that all three queens dicided to stop laying eggs at that moment.

This leads me to belive they were all ready to swarm before I put on excluders. 

a couple weeks before this I moved the hoves slowly a couple feet every few days to get them to the new stand I build for them.  Three movesl

Could this have cause enough stress to make them swarm.  I just dont get it.  All New queens from april.  They were laying great brood patterns.  There was maybe half a frme total with capped honey in each hove when I added honey supers.  Now my top brood boxes have about half capped honey. 

Has anyone seen anything like this before. 

Now I have to wait for eggs or larva.  Weather has been crap for mating.
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bee-nuts
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« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2009, 06:12:05 AM »

well I have been doing some reading and I'm convinced that they were all going to swarm before I added the supers anyway.  when I installed the honey super I video taped the whole thing.  I was worried then because I did not see larva and I thought there was less capped brood then the last time I went through the hives.  But when I watched the video I saw larvae however large.  I picked up my one super re-queened colonies mid april.  I installed a deep box with drawn foundation on top.  my next inspection was frames full of capped brood in these boxes.  I feed over 30 pund of sugar water to each hive.  they had tones of pollen from box elder to work.  May 25th I added my honey supers and thought that little larva was weird but it was only 70 degrees and windy so I did not look real well because I did not want to chill brood.  Im a newbee so I didn't think to much of it, besides i was told that with a new queen you should not really have to worry that much anyway.  when I added the honey supers they had hardly any capped honey.  I thought you were not supposed to add more boxes until they had 80% or so ocupied anyway.  I was kind of worried that I was pushing it.  It has been hardly two months.  I am dumb founded.  I thought I was doing ok.  I guess I screwed something up.  Now I am missing a huge blackberry flow.

Anyway,  What do I do now.  How long do I wait for evidence of new queens.  I still have plenty of bees left.  Tones of honey bees working the Blackberry blossoms. The swarmed bees are having a hay day Im surel LOL.

I wanted to make nucs in july.  Would It be a bad Idea to try to make splits now and intoduce queens for insurance.  Thay have lots of honey and pollen stored and at least a month of blackberry flow yet.  Loads of milkweed, golden rod and field thistle to come.

Any info appreciated please.

Thank You.
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« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2009, 08:42:08 AM »

Yes, they start swarm prep weeks before they swarm.  Once they start prepping, the only semi-sure way to stop them is by splitting.

What you should have done, had you known, was split when you did that inspection after the queen excluder problem.   And even then may have had trouble finding the queen, as she slims down to fly.  But you are up against the first-time beekeeper learning curve, so don't beat your self up over it.  Even after 6 years I don't know what to do sometimes.

I would NOT make splits right now.  Without brood the bees will just head back to the parent hive, and you already have only 1/2 the bees you did.

This leaves you with that much more to look forward to next year  applause.  My first couple of years were hard because I'd make lots of mistakes and it takes till next year before its all fixed and you can reap the rewards.  The anticipation was agonizing!

The bees seem to swarm all at the same time.  I always have one week in May where I get 90% of all my swarm calls.

Did you manage to capture any of the swarms?  That is a bitter pill to swallow, knowing that 1/2 of your bees got up and left and are who knows where!!!  Grrr...

Rick
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bee-nuts
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« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2009, 03:30:23 AM »

So You belive they were ready to swarm before I put on honey supers?

As far as the queen excluder problem there was noting I could do because they already swarmed.  It was 23 days since putting the queen excluder's on (I did not go through the hive other than open the inner cover and pull foundation to see if they were drawing any, because it had been raining every other dayand I did not want to disturb them more than I had too).  That is why I am saying that they must have been preparing to swarm before introducing the queen excluder's, because there was no brood at all, except six or so drone brood in one of the hives.  An adult female emerges between 19 and 21 days from what I have read.  So my point is even if the queen excluder's would have resulted in swarming it did not matter because apparently they were already in the process.  Unless of course they became honey bound in one day which is imposable.  So Why did they swarm?  Did they swarm because they did not like being moved two or three feet every week or so(three times), or did I feed to much sugar water or something?  I was worried that I was not feeding enough.  Or did they swarm because I just have bad luck? 

I just would like to have a better Idea so I don't do it again.  Now I'm scared to move a hive a short distance, work the bees if there is any wind and below 80 degrees, or ever use a queen excluder period.  The queens were new mated and marked queens hardly a month in my hives when they decided to swarm like clock work in unison.  I'm dumb founded.  This is not normal is it.?

I have learned on thing for sure.  Make sure you have lots of larva at all times and go through hives weekly looking for queen cells.  I did not expect something like this all at once or at all so soon.

Thanks beeks for any input you can provide, like similar experiences if anybody has been so unfortunate.

Thank You
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bee-nuts
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« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2009, 06:52:40 PM »

I went through one hive today frame by frame and still no eggs.  It was looking like rain so I did not go through any more hives.  I am amazed at how many bees I have left.  I pulled out the queen excluder's Tuesday below my box of foundation.  Today (Sunday) I found that they are going to town drawing out comb.  The bottom two brood chambers are plumb full of bees honey and pollen.  If they swarmed and I still have this many bees they must have really been crowded or hatching brood filled the supers back up.  Being that all brood is hatched the bees must have swarmed weeks ago? correct? 

I was really hoping for more responses.  I did not see any of the swarms so I don't know when they swarmed.  I really could use some input on how long to wait for eggs, if I should requeen now or what.  I have lots pf pictures but don't know how to post them or if I am even able to yet.  Is there a good place to publish the pics of the swarm cells and other pics so you guys can see what I'm talking about.  I have video too, from today and Tuesday.

I really appreciate any help!!

Thank You
bee-nuts
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« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2009, 08:17:29 PM »

go to google and download their picasa program.  you can put your pics on your computer and upload them to the picture sharing site.  then send us the link so we can see what you saw.

sounds like your bees got to crowded and took off.  happens. 

you said you didn't see eggs.  any larvae, capped brood, etc?  you don't know when they swarmed, but new queens can take a bit to get going.  this time can be extended if the weather is bad.

if i understand your original set up, you had one deep per hive then added honey supers?  good queens and good flow = rapid build up of bees.  one deep was probably not enough.
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.....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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« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2009, 09:17:25 PM »

I actually had two deeps for brood and One deep for honey.  They had lots of pollen and good nectar flow.  However since I had excluder's on they just packed the top brood chamber with honey and pollen and much of the bottom deeps as well.  I believe due to a lack of experience however that they were crowded before I put the excluder's and honey supers on anyway.  I am worried though that maybe they absconded because I went through them when it was 70 degrees and quite windy and had chilled brood and were not able to raise a proper queen.  I never did a through inspection before adding the honey supers because of cool weather.  And when I did add honey supers I was worried about the wind and chilled brood so I did not look over frames real well.  There may very well have been Swarm cells at this time.  I am just worried that something is wrong and that I will have no nurse bees to take care of brood if I wait to long for a queen.  I bought re-queened one deep colonies.  I also bought drawn comb for my second brood chambers.  I though they were all old uncapped honey frames but maybe, just maybe the queen cells were already on them.  The month of April and most of May, it hardly got up to 60 and was usually windy so I only opened for sugar water and pulled out a few frames briefly which had lots of caped brood on them.  I am going to go through another hive tomorrow and hopefully have better results.

I have downloaded a clip to you tube.  You may be able to find it by searching for "swarm cells hive one"

Thanks for the reply Kathyp
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« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2009, 09:45:40 PM »

most of your frames were out of the camera shot, but interesting commentary as you inspected..  evil

did you check both boxes?  looked like the majority of the bees were in the other box?

do you have any idea when they might have swarmed?  it might help us estimate when your queens hatched.  also what has your weather been like?

check your other hives.  it is unlikely that all are queenless. 

if you try to requeen and there is a queen, you will waste your money.  one or the other of them will be killed.
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.....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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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2009, 12:04:59 AM »

You need to wait at least a week or ten days after a swarm before you expect to find any eggs.
If you had lots of bees left then I wouldn't worry too much.
I would not expect they would abscond from you moving the hives just a few feet in a few days.
I always like to check mine every 5 to 7 days during a honey/nectar flow. A strong colony can fill a small or medium super in 5 days flat. Been there done that.
You can always take an extra super off, you cannot always get a swarm back. :)doak
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« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2009, 04:03:25 AM »

I have added another video titled "swarmed hive egg search" on youtube under moeshoneybeevideos so you can see how may bees I have yet (bottom super).  There are also a pile of bees on the front of hive body that you cant see.  For some reason when you smoke this hive they pile up in the bottom and out the front door.  The swarm cells video is the second or upper brood chamber from last Tuesday.

Kathyp:  I searched all frames.  No I dont know when they swarmed.  I should be checking my other hives in the mourning.  I have a feeling its going to be nothing again.

Doak:  If your right, then friday is the end of the line.  Then I should buy queens?  Correct?

Thanks for your help.  Otherwise I would be pulling my hair out. 
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bee-nuts
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« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2009, 11:58:11 PM »

I just thought I would follow up on my swarmed hives.  I have found capped brood in all three.  I am worried though about one because it has a lot of drone cells.  If this is not normal please let me know.  I am wondering if maybe she was not mated well or maybe that she just needs a little more practice. 

Any way, I will split one hive for learning experence even though it would not be proper management for honey productiuon and will film and post videos on you tube.  I will try to provide viewers with a good video showing hive strength, food stores, nectar sources and what not before the split and follow up video through fall.  If anyone is interested keep and eye on my posts or moeshoneybeevideos on you tube.

If anyone has experiance with Minnisota Hygenic bees in the midwest would you recomend on advixe against them, and if recomended please recomend a queen source.

Thanks again for all help that was provided both on this post and the "is spliting now a bad idea" post in rapid be yard groth.
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The moment a person forms a theory, his imagination sees in every object only the traits which favor that theory

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« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2009, 12:31:35 AM »

did you buy queens?  are there only drone cells in the hive with more drone cells?

i am a little confused.  a few days ago, you had nothing.  now you have capped brood.  i missed something?
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.....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
bee-nuts
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« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2009, 01:50:20 AM »

No, I did not buy queens.  If you re-read you will find that it has been more than a few days, its been eleven days or more since I was without brood.  Sunday the 21st I still had not brood in hive one (did not check others).   I belive it was tuesday the 23rd I found one frame in hive two with a small patch about the size of a cd with maybe 15 caped cells and some larva and the other side I belive was loaded with eggs and royal jelly (it was milky anyway).  Sunday june 29th (yesterday, its 12:30 am monday now), I found capped brood in the other two.  I would have orderd queens if no brood was found today.  Go to moeshoneybeevideos and you can see hive two's brood.  The queen introducer was still in the hive from when I purchased them (re-queened one deep colonies).  It looks like a queen was introduced because the brood is on a frame right next to it making me look like a fool. I did film the other two today, however it was very windy and I was not interested in great shots but only wether I was queen right or needed to buy queens.  Note: I did not have time to inspect all hives on the same days because I had my daughter, have been working overtime, and have been forced to check when I could, like today when very windy but had no choice if I was to find out if queen-right or not.  I also have no way of pining down the swarm dates, only guesses.  Im not exactly sure on dates, I do not keep records which I see is very important now.

Thank you for you interest and help very much,,

Bee-nuts
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The moment a person forms a theory, his imagination sees in every object only the traits which favor that theory

Thomas Jefferson
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« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2009, 01:54:39 AM »

Oh, I forgot.  I have worker cells in all hives but one of the two I checked today seemed heavy on drone cells which worries me. 

Thanks again.
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« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2009, 05:00:59 PM »

check Walt Wright from TN. he has a great theory that goes somewhat against (may be more across) the general grain. you can check his articles on point-of-view/walt-wright/swarm-prevention-in-tennessee/
or beesource(point)com/point-of-view/walt-wright/apply-survival-traits-of-honey-bees-for-swarm-prevention-and-increased-honey-production-part-1/
He is also available and passionate to discuss it. He has printed a document on nectar management that deals with swarming management all at once. Get that first from him, cheap and incredibly valuable IMO.
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bee-nuts
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« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2009, 02:23:53 PM »

I figured I should give an update to this post.  These hives are all back in action and numbers are booming again.  I will add some video when I have time and good weather to make them.  What I call Hive one apparently wanted to swarm again so I made two splits from it.  One with a nice queen cell and one with a new mated queen.  There is a heck of a learning curve with bees.  There is so much to know and when you dint have an experienced bee keeper to work with to get first hand experience you can only read and ask and hope you know what you are doing..  This forum has been alot of help.  I usually tire of most things quickly but these bees never tire me out, I only want more and more of it.  I dont think I will have enough bees to quench my thirst until I have at least 20 hives.  They are absolutely fascinating and I dint know what I will do now when winter comes.  Maybe I will have to move to Australia for there summer LOL.

I have also read all the stuff on Beesourse of Walt Wright's and others opinions.  Thanks all for your help and input.

Is there other great sources of multiple authors opinions and research similar to beesourses point of view?  Also I have read a few books but I would like to read more.  Is any Authors or books of the late that anybody recommends to read?  I would like to keep them recent so they are up to date on disease, pests and whatnot.

Thanks all

bee-nuts
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The moment a person forms a theory, his imagination sees in every object only the traits which favor that theory

Thomas Jefferson
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« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2009, 02:55:40 PM »

Hi bee-nuts--I started a thread in the general forum last week on people's book recommendations. Maybe you can find some good ones there?

luvin honey
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