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Author Topic: My bees left only to come back  (Read 1687 times)

Offline bearpaw

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My bees left only to come back
« on: July 16, 2009, 02:47:19 AM »
Last year I had a strange thing (well to me anyway) happen to my hive...

On a warm day most of my bees left the hive - like they were swarming. Then within the hour they were all back in the hive. This repeated about three times - about a week or two apart. On the third flight they all left not to return - I caught the swarm though.

Why did this happen - that is why did they leave and then come back? I'm a bit puzzled.

Offline bee-nuts

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Re: My bees left only to come back
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2009, 03:56:44 AM »
Was you queens wings clipped.  I have read that if the queens wings are clipped or if she can not fly for whatever reason they will attempt to swarm only to return to the hive.  They also will return to the hive if the scouts do not find a suitable place but I'm sure the would not have given up in less than an hour.  My guess would be that they finally left with a virgin queen that could fly.

How long before you had eggs or brood after you boxes your swarm.  If you were paying close attention I'll bet it took awhile because she had to mate yet.
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Offline bearpaw

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Re: My bees left only to come back
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2009, 04:47:44 AM »
My Queen was not clipped. I wasn't really paying too much attention to the swarm after I caught it so I can't say how long it was before the queen started laying. It is a strong colony now though - the same strength as the colony before the swarm.

I just thought it was a bit weird though and was thinking the same as you that the queen perhaps could not fly... but twice in a row?

Offline JP

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Re: My bees left only to come back
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2009, 09:00:41 AM »
What other reason would they have to come back if not to get queenie? Not being sarcastic, that is the reason they came back, because they had no queen the first two times.

I've seen swarms leave to come back twice, a few different times because the queen was caged. These were swarms I had caught myself, freshly shook.


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Offline bearpaw

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Re: My bees left only to come back
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2009, 05:48:33 PM »
Thanks JP... I always thought that the hive would only swarm when the queen was ready to go - ie. that the queen led the process. Obviously I was mistaken there. So it looks like the hive swarms and the queen was not able to join for some reason or she couldn't fly, so the bees came back.

Offline Tucker1

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Re: My bees left only to come back
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2009, 07:24:53 PM »
I understand that before a swarm takes place, the workers don't feed to Queen to the same degree as normal. This is so that the Queen came fly. (Seems, she needs to lose a little weight before she's ready to fly). May be her Majesty wasn't quite in shape for the trip and needed to spend more time with Jenny Craig.

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Offline JP

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Re: My bees left only to come back
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2009, 11:13:20 PM »
Thanks JP... I always thought that the hive would only swarm when the queen was ready to go - ie. that the queen led the process. Obviously I was mistaken there. So it looks like the hive swarms and the queen was not able to join for some reason or she couldn't fly, so the bees came back.

Bearpaw, queens fly with the swarm, the bees lead the way. I've witnessed swarms coming out of hives, one such time, a very good amount of bees had exited and I sat there watching for the queen and she popped out and I caught her and caged her.

The rest of the swarm exited and I sat there watching them airborne, circling, to come back for her. They came back, then swarmed again about five minutes later, coming back the second time for good.

I kind of felt sorry for them but at the same time was happy to keep them.


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Online kathyp

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Re: My bees left only to come back
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2009, 11:30:19 PM »
 :imsorry:

Quote
May be her Majesty wasn't quite in shape for the trip and needed to spend more time with Jenny Craig.

maybe i should prepare to swarm!

what is the process in the hive when they are throwing multiple swarms with virgin queens?  is it caused by the failure of a strong queen to emerge after the main swarm?
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Offline JP

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Re: My bees left only to come back
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2009, 11:45:52 PM »
My take with multiple afterswarms is that the colony had massive numbers that needed to be alleviated. But why so many swarms and what accounts for the actual number of swarms, who knows?

And why do some completely empty out but many wind up with some manageable number and start again?


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Offline bearpaw

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Re: My bees left only to come back
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2009, 03:51:15 AM »
Thanks for all the replies everyone. I suppose we'll never know all there is to know about the mysteries of swarming.

Wow my first day on the board and I've already learnt so much...Thanks :)