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Author Topic: small swarm, advice please.  (Read 1009 times)
brendan
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« on: June 30, 2009, 02:33:42 PM »

I am a second year beek. This spring I set my nephew, an 8th grader up with his own hive. He has been feeding it and he just added a honey super to 2 filled deeps. Last pm he called me and said there was a small clump of bees on a pine tree in the front yard. Hive is in back yard about 40 y away.  I was really  jazzed and rushed over there at about 11p. He had them shook into a shoebox under the tree. We shook them into a deep body with foundation and put a queen excluder over the bottom board. I have several concerns. Looking at picks on this website I have not seen a swarm this small. It is prob only 1 or 2 cups of bees. Is it certain to have a queen in the clump? We could not see her last night with a flashlight. We moved the hive back to the backyard about 15 ft from the other one. This am they seem to be going in and out. How long should I keep the excluder on. Should we feed them, should we add a frame of brood. Any advice would be appreciated.
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GTX188
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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2009, 02:52:57 PM »

Brendan,
Everyone is going to have their own opinion, but from my experience I had a small swarm this year and they've set up beautifully. I hived them into a deep with no drawn foundation, still am feeding them (1.5 months later) and still have the entrance reduced. I found by feeding them and their small population they definately are a candidate for robbing (hence the entrance reducer). I also did boost them with 2 frames of eggs and brood and threw in a frame of honey aswell. As far as a queen goes... she should be rather large (typically the old queens fly out) so when they are set up for a few days I'd pull a frame or two and see if you can spot her or eggs. The beauty of a small swarm is they are going to congregate on only a few frames so you dont have boxes to pull apart and search Personally I'd keep the excluder on 7-10 days, within that period you should start to see eggs being layed if foundation is drawn. Your other choice is to combine them with another hive... the bottom line is it's your choice
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riverrat
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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2009, 03:00:04 PM »

my guess would be it is a secondary swarm with  a virgin queen. I would hive them up in a nuc on drawn comb if you got it or foundation and feed feed feed remove the queen excluder now and reduce the entrance check in a couple of weeks to see if you have a laying queen
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never take the top off a hive on a day that you wouldn't want the roof taken off your house
charles
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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2009, 03:09:14 PM »

I would put in a frame each of brood and honey to keep them from absconding.
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iddee
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« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2009, 04:11:31 PM »

Devil's advocate here. In my opinion, a swarm that size at the end of June isn't worth the trouble. I would find and pinch the queen and shake the bees out on the ground. They will go back to the mother hive.
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kathyp
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« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2009, 04:23:40 PM »

Quote
In my opinion, a swarm that size at the end of June isn't worth the trouble

normally, i would agree with you and i am done with swarms for the year for that reason...but...and there is always a but....i picked up a swarm a couple of years ago from a feral tree hive.  that swarm wintered in one box and exploded the next year.  it has been my best hive both last year and this.

how about a compromise?  hive the swarm and give it 6 weeks. if there is not significant buildup, combine them with another hive for the winter.

 Wink  now you have choices.  don't you hate that?

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i pick 6 weeks because we are at our peak blackberry flow right now.  6 weeks gives a queen time to get going and the hive time to get stores in.  feed them for a bit until you see that they are bringing in lots of stuff,  then watch them closely. at best, they will thrive.  at worst, you can pull the brood for other hives and do as iddee suggests.
 
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Cheryl
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« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2009, 04:36:21 PM »

i pick 6 weeks because we are at our peak blackberry flow right now.  6 weeks gives a queen time to get going and the hive time to get stores in.  feed them for a bit until you see that they are bringing in lots of stuff,  then watch them closely. at best, they will thrive.  at worst, you can pull the brood for other hives and do as iddee suggests.
 

Seconded! grin

...and just in case that's a virgin queen, do remove the queen excluder.
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G3farms
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« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2009, 05:51:21 PM »

If you still are having a good flow, which I dought, I would put them in a nuc, remove the queen excluder, add a frame of brood and a frame of honey if you can spare it from another hive, put in an entrance reducer (1 1/2" to 2" opening), and feed the dickens out of them.

You can always combine them later if they are not doing well.

Just too many choices .

Good luck with them and let us know what happens.

G3
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iddee
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« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2009, 06:33:08 PM »

If it were Brendan's hive I would agree, but it is a 13 "approx." y/o's first hive.

 He just added a honey super in the hopes of maybe getting some honey his first year. Is the slim chance of getting another hive from 1 to 2 cups of bees worth taking that many foragers from his hive? As it may also cut the original hive enough to stop it from making it through the winter. If the old hive robs the nuc out, it is dead and any possible honey is full of sugar water.

To me, it isn't worth the gamble, considering the circumstances.
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"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"

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riverrat
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« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2009, 12:44:34 AM »

I am with iddee to a point ( glad we can agree to disagree)  I wouldn't rob frames of brood from another hive. I would hive them in a Nuc and let them make it on there own if they abscond you have not lost anything less than what you had before you picked up the swarm. If you leave the queen excluder on and have a virgin queen you risk her not being able to go on her mating flight. I would hive then in a nuc as I posted before if they build up add another nuc box and winter them with the 5 on 5 method by adding a second nuc box. If they make it through the winter they may do as Kathy said and explode next spring. I have seen this happen. A swarm in May is worth a load of hay a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon and a swarm in July isn't worth a fly. You are on the envelope on this one and the swarm is worth tryingto save. The experience you gain is Priceless but don't hurt another hive to try to make this one go.
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never take the top off a hive on a day that you wouldn't want the roof taken off your house
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