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Author Topic: Bees hanging around after swarm removal?  (Read 3308 times)
Fer
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« on: November 28, 2011, 03:36:36 AM »

I'm not a beekeeper or much of an enthusiast (aside from welcoming small groups of bees visiting and leaving my garden), but I hope those of you with more knowledge might be able to help me.

I live in south-east Melbourne, and have an apple tree in one of those big black plastic pots with an overhanging rim.  On Friday afternoon sometime, a swarm decided to take up its abode on the rim of the pot.  We had a beekeeper come out on Sunday morning and remove the majority of the swarm to a more appropriate place (because I think swarms or feral hives in suburbia are a BAD idea!).  The apiarist said he had got the Queen as well as the majority of the bees, and those that were left would disperse over the next few days - more than likely back to their old hive.  That afternoon there was still a cluster of them on the pot, and a few woozy ones wandering around in the lawn.

The problem I'm having at the moment is that (as of Monday evening) there seem to still be a large number of bees around, and they are showing no intention of moving on.  They've formed what I'm calling a "bee ball", and looking quite content hanging onto the side of the pot.  (see picture)  Is it likely they'll move on now, or have they settled in for he duration?  Would they have started construction work under there, or could there be another Queen?  

I'm concerned, because the tree is right next to the cat run. I don't want my cats to get stung (especially if these bees are getting hungry), and I certainly don't want my partner or I to get stung while out in the backyard!  The closest I'm game enough to get with my camera is probably three metres, and even then they buzz me and let me know they're camerashy.

If they're still there on Tuesday afternoon, I'm going to give the beekeeper another call and see if he'll come out again on Wednesday to take these stragglers away.  But in the meantime, what would you advise?



« Last Edit: November 28, 2011, 03:57:26 AM by eivindm » Logged
yantabulla
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« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2011, 04:18:20 AM »

Fer, 

There are always a few stragglers left from a swarm.

Get a spray bottle & put a bit of detergent in it.  Shake it up & spray the bees thoroughly.  They will not worry your partner or your cat again.

Yanta
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Fer
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« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2011, 05:24:48 AM »

Thank you for your reply, Yanta. 

Are you saying the fact that they're forming this "ball" is nothing to worry about?  That's the part that makes the the most concerned - it looks to the untrained eye like they're trying to start a colony.

I'd rather not rile them up by spraying them with anything (those ones that buzzed me got awfully close, like a warning!), especially if they're likely to move on sooner rather than later. 

I would like them to find their way back to their original hive.
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OzBuzz
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« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2011, 10:15:48 PM »

Fer, thanks for going to the right place to ask the question... the beekeeper was correct, as is Yanta, there will always be bees left after a swarm removal as inevitably some get knocked to the ground or they're out foraging and return and the swarms gone. I have only ever had one swarm where there were no bees left at all and that's because I collected them at 11:30pm at night on a coldish night (not the ideal circumstances to do so but it was necessary) and then left the box sitting there for an hour while i went and did another swarm removal meaning that any that had dropped on the ground crawled in to the box (that was a lllooonnggg late night). I always advise my customers that there will be a half to a full handful of bees left behind in most circumstances. It does take time for them to disappear and, with the weather we've been having here in melbourne of late, i would expect it could take up to a week. Yesterdays weather (34oC) would have seen some disappear but todays weather (rain, rain and more rain) will have them cluster tighter. There are signs that, to a beekeeper, would indicate to him that he has the queen - he wouldn't lie to you because if the queen was there the swarm would likely stay and he'd have to come out and do it all again. After he collected the swarm did he leave the box sitting there for a while to see where the bees were orienting/flying to? I would remain patient - give the area a little space - sadly we as beekeepers can't control how quickly they disperse and it is heavily dependent on the weather... spraying with detergent will only kill the bees that remain
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Fer
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« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2011, 04:44:46 AM »

Dear OzBuzz,

Many thanks for your detailed reply.  I had hoped that after yesterday's hot weather the majority of the bees would have dispersed, but when I checked that evening, they seemed to have bunkered down and were all over the trunk of the tree.  This evening, however, despite it being cool and rainy, there has been a marked decrease in the number of them still clustering around.  Hopefully by the weekend they'll move on.  Smiley

I've never had experience with a swarm before (it's the first one I've ever seen!), so when the beekeeper said they'd disperse over a couple of days I guess I expected them to up and leave the following day, or stay scattered as they were after he left.  The "ball" cluster they formed was unexpected, and what made me wonder if there was a second more juvenile Queen or .. I don't know, something.

To answer your question, the beekeeper didn't leave the box.  He was here for about an hour, and after a few unsuccessful attempt to get them to move (because they were inside the pot with the tree) he had to resort to smoking them to calm them, and that was when he got the Queen.  Even we could see he'd got her in the box, because it was covered with bees trying to get inside.  From our perspective, it was quite interesting to watch, and I'm glad we got them taken away by a beekeeper rather than go with our local council's solution.

I do have a couple more questions, though:
The bees appear to have left behind a white substance on both the tree and the pot - could that be beeswax or the start of honeycomb foundations?  It wasn't on the tree before the they arrived.
and
Is it normal for bees in queenless swarms like this now is to bring back pollen?  We've seen a couple of them with rather large amounts of pollen coming back to the cluster, and I didn't think they did that unless they had somewhere to put it?
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JP
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« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2011, 08:54:29 AM »

Dear OzBuzz,

Many thanks for your detailed reply.  I had hoped that after yesterday's hot weather the majority of the bees would have dispersed, but when I checked that evening, they seemed to have bunkered down and were all over the trunk of the tree.  This evening, however, despite it being cool and rainy, there has been a marked decrease in the number of them still clustering around.  Hopefully by the weekend they'll move on.  Smiley

I've never had experience with a swarm before (it's the first one I've ever seen!), so when the beekeeper said they'd disperse over a couple of days I guess I expected them to up and leave the following day, or stay scattered as they were after he left.  The "ball" cluster they formed was unexpected, and what made me wonder if there was a second more juvenile Queen or .. I don't know, something.

To answer your question, the beekeeper didn't leave the box.  He was here for about an hour, and after a few unsuccessful attempt to get them to move (because they were inside the pot with the tree) he had to resort to smoking them to calm them, and that was when he got the Queen.  Even we could see he'd got her in the box, because it was covered with bees trying to get inside.  From our perspective, it was quite interesting to watch, and I'm glad we got them taken away by a beekeeper rather than go with our local council's solution.

I do have a couple more questions, though:
The bees appear to have left behind a white substance on both the tree and the pot - could that be beeswax or the start of honeycomb foundations?  It wasn't on the tree before the they arrived.
and
Is it normal for bees in queenless swarms like this now is to bring back pollen?  We've seen a couple of them with rather large amounts of pollen coming back to the cluster, and I didn't think they did that unless they had somewhere to put it?


The white substance is in fact beeswax.

It is normal for bees to go into survival mode and bring back pollen and even nectar. Depending on the number of bees they will sometimes build a good bit of comb and even make honey.

Yours are trying their best to survive but without a queen they are pretty much doomed. You either need to add them to an existing colony or let them expire in due time all on their own. If you just don't want them around any longer you would have to spray them with something that would kill them at night.

If you are not alarmed by them I would suggest leaving them alone. After a week or so they likely will all expire.


...JP
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OzBuzz
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« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2011, 11:57:28 PM »

As JP said the white substance is wax and it is normal for them to bring some pollen and nectar back to the remaining cluster... I find typically with the swarms that i collect that they do in fact leave the area and go and join another hive in the area within a few days (weather depending)...
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