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Author Topic: Catching a Swarm In The Rain and Finicke Bees  (Read 1312 times)
Brian D. Bray
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« on: July 08, 2009, 05:47:09 PM »

After nearly 2 months of nice Florida type weather it decided to rain last night, it was still raining this morning.
I went out to check on thinks, like making sure the tarp over the cement bags for my catch dam was still in place, and while doing so I noticed that 3 of my hives had bees hanging out in clumps in all the wrong places.  They were not bearding, they were on the sides or front crammed into the hand holds.  Then I notice small clumps of bees hanging on some bushes, another bush, and another bush, and then I spot a swarm in 2 clusters near the top of the Italian prune tree just behind the bee yard.  
It's still raining and I have clumps and clusters of bees from the swarm in about 15 different places.  Evidently the rain knocked the bees down and they regrouped in small clusters.  I can tell from a small cluster near the entrance of the Russian hive that this is the one that had swarmed, it is also the one I had split last week.  

Even experienced beekeepers  have hives that have been split swarm on them,  I think I've said that before, or at least inferred it strongly.

I think,  "No sweat, I'll just put them into my swarm trap (5 frame deep nuc)."  So I get the 10 foot step ladder and the swarm trap and climb up the ladder, balance it on  the top or the ladder, and cut the branches holding the 2 clusters and put them in the swarm trap.  I carry the hive with bees in it down and set it in the bee yard next to the hive it came out of and then scoop up some of the clusters and and put those in the hive.  It is still raining.
Let me say now, for those who might wonder, bees that swarm in the rain will and do sting (11 times).

I went to make up some syrup to feed them and the simplest way was to use a boardman feeder.  After mixing up the syrup I return to find the bees marching out of the swarm trap and flying back into the prune tree (this is only 10 feet from the hive they came out off).  So the bees were finicke, they either didn't like the 5 frame nuc or the partially drawn plastic frames I was using in it.  I don't like deeps, and I don't like plastic, I have 2 5 frame nucs that came with plastic frames, I'm going to get my saw and do a little down sizing.  It is still raining.

Having lost round 1 I decided to go all out on the 2nd attempt.  I had used all my pre-built medium frames + some I made to make up supers for all my hives about 10 days ago so I had to build 8 new frames and using my 1 remaining reversable bottom board as a bottom I built the hive with a queen includer and topped it off with my 1 & only telescopic top and inner cover.  I also took along a 2nd medium box.  It rained all the time I took to build the hive.

Returning to the scene of the rejection I found the bees now clinging to a limb just below the one I had cut the bigger cluster frame and it was now all in one piece, about the size of a foot ball but the cluster is where a number of branches cross in close proximity to each other.  It was hanging difectly over the fence between the yard and the bee yard.  The rain has slowed to a drizzle.

I moved the ladder to the opposite side of the fence, rubbing up against the parent hive of the swarm.  
I place the newly built hive one a hive stand next to the ladder, on the opposide of the ladder from it's parent.  
I then opened up the parent hive, I put on my gloves this time as the bees are still testy from the rain, (the 1 I split last week) and removed 1 frame of capped brood that was being backfilled with stores.  
It was impossible to tell the hive had actually swarmed from the amount of bees still in the hive as the majority of the brood I had seen when I spllit the hive had hatched out and occupied the available space.
I placed the frame of brood + nurse bees, after all they  just came from that hive, in the center of the newly built hive, then placed the 2nd empty box on top.
I then climb the ladder and begin clipping 1 branch at a time and gently lower them into the top, empty, box.
This means climbing up and down the ladder with a gob of bees in hand.
I clip 5 branches and have them laid out in the upper, empty, box, most of the bees are still glinging to the branches but some are going airborne.
It is still drizzling rain.
The bees have now clustered on 1 branch about 6 1/2 feet above the ground so I can do the remainder from the ground, thank goodness!
I gently clip the last cluster and lay it down in the box.
a bunch of bees are still airborne but the direction of their flight has changed, some of the bees have taken station atop the frames and have their rears in the air fanning like crazy.
When I get about 95+% of the bees into the hive I close it up, putting on the inner and outer top.
For a few minutes I stood and watched the bees land on top of the inner top and go into the hive through the Porter cutout.

So having started with 2 overwinter hives this spring, adding a split in March and 2 packages in late April, a split the last week of June, and now a swarm, I'm up to 7 hives.1 of the hives goes to my brother in eastern washington and the other to a friend who is heling me build the fence around my goat pasture.  His payment for helping was a goat and a complete bee hive. That will put me back down to 5 by Labor Day which is just where I want to be.
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Life is a school.  What have you learned?   Brian      The greatest danger to our society is apathy, vote in every election!
JP
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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2009, 11:48:37 PM »

Sounds like you had yourself quite the adventure there Brian. Glad you were able to get them back and then again.


...JP
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G3farms
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« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2009, 09:01:17 AM »

that sounds like a tough swarm to get put up. poor ol' prune tree.

good job.

G3
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Ernest T. Bass
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« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2009, 11:55:38 PM »

Interesting and informative; thanks for sharing!
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