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Author Topic: Wild Swarm on Queen Castle???  (Read 547 times)
Hemlock
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« on: August 27, 2013, 08:58:08 PM »

Is anyone aware of wild swarms being attracted to small queenless colonies?


Background: 
Found a good sized mass of bees on one face of a Queen Castle.  The Castle is a ten frame box refitted to house three, three frame slots.  Two slots (side & middle) are occupied and one is empty.  The occupied slots are both Queenless.  The side slot has five capped Queen cells. This is the face the bee mass appeared on.  The bees in the slot and the bees on the face equal more bees than the slot can possibly house. 

Thank you.



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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2013, 11:05:17 PM »

A 5 frame western (3/4) nuc is the smallest volume hive that I've found that swarms will stay in permanately.  They might stay awhile but if there is not enough room to house all the bees in the swarm they will soon move on.  Remove divider sections or replace with a different box.

Bees will stay in the following minimum hive configurations:  2 tier medium nuc, single tier western nuc, single tier deep nuc,
I've also known swarms to leave deep boxes in preference to western boxes because they seem to like the shorter frame depth better than the deep frame.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2013, 08:15:35 AM »

Usurpation seems to be a recent topic.  Dwight Magnum has written at lest one article on the subject.  I've observed it a few times.  When it's happening it looks like a cross between a swarm and robbing.  The swarm seems to be moving into an occupied hive, but the hive is often fighting with the bees from the swarm.  Queenlessness does seem to be an added trigger.  I have watched these in progress in Massachusetts, Nebraska and Arizona.  I've also seen where it seems that one nuc, going into winter, has moved in with another nuc going into winter, but I did not see it actually happen.  In these cases, all I know is the nuc box that had a small colony in it is empty and the nuc next door has a lot more bees.

My guess is that this happens a lot and has been happening for a long time, but has only recently been noticed or documented.  It is often blamed on African genetics, but the VA (Dwight), NE and MA ones were all EHB.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2013, 12:24:24 PM »

Dwight Magnum talked about this at the last bee college in Tampa FL. He caught the beginning of one in his top bar hives and video tapped it. Marked the intruding queen before she entered the hive. The bees balled both queens, probably trying to protect their own queens. 3 days later the old queen was dropped out of the hive. He asked the same question about how long this has been going on and could find no reports that documented it in the past.
Jim
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WarPonyFarms
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« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2013, 01:32:08 PM »

I witnessed an early swarm of about 10 lbs take over a hive in a double deep this year.

The hive was strong but the swarms sheer numbers overwhelmed them and the resident queen escaped through the top entrance and flew a short distance where I caught and caged her. 

With in 1/2 hour she had about a 2lb swarm of her own that we housed in a 10 frame with comb and brood from her original hive.

I've seen weak hives taken over by swarms a couple times, usually in the unpredictable spring weather, but this was the first time I've ever seen a hive that strong be overrun.

The friend with me that day was shaking his head as he muttered "Some people are blessed with abundance."  That day I had to agree.
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10framer
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« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2013, 01:38:26 PM »

i would think it's been happening a lot more since the small hive beetle showed up.  when the bees abscond they still want to survive.  if instinct tells them it's too late to start over fresh i would guess the next best thing would be to invade another hive.  i'm assuming a lot here, though.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2013, 02:05:17 PM »

There was no threat from SHB anywhere I observed it.
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Michael Bush
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2013, 10:13:06 PM »

Usurpation seems to be a recent topic.  Dwight Magnum has written at lest one article on the subject.  I've observed it a few times.  When it's happening it looks like a cross between a swarm and robbing.  The swarm seems to be moving into an occupied hive, but the hive is often fighting with the bees from the swarm.  Queenlessness does seem to be an added trigger.  I have watched these in progress in Massachusetts, Nebraska and Arizona.  I've also seen where it seems that one nuc, going into winter, has moved in with another nuc going into winter, but I did not see it actually happen.  In these cases, all I know is the nuc box that had a small colony in it is empty and the nuc next door has a lot more bees.

My guess is that this happens a lot and has been happening for a long time, but has only recently been noticed or documented.  It is often blamed on African genetics, but the VA (Dwight), NE and MA ones were all EHB.

Some things are like paisley ties, they come around every couple of decades.  Usurpation has been around longer than most would think, I remember I mentor telling me about some he witnessed in the 1920's.  I saw a few back in the 1960's.  Had a colony of Caucasian bees in a 12 frame hive that wouldn't build past a single brood box, it was usurped by a swarm from one of my Italian hives.  At least 5 lbs of bees.  The take over occurred over a 3 day period.  It was a very interesting thing to watch as the swarm took over one side of the hive 1st, then the rest of the hive.  There wasn't really a lot of fighting between the hive bees and the swsarm and in the end the Caucasian queen was offed and the worker bees absorbed by the swarm, the hive became fairly productive with an Italian queen, building up 2 12 frames deeps and 3 honey supers.
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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!
Hemlock
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« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2013, 12:58:02 PM »

Thanks to everyone for all that information.  Now i wish i had filmed it.  

Due to rain in the forecast i re-hived the whole mess.  i put all three frames into a five frame nuc with two other drawn frames and a slatted-rack.  i TRIED to scoop all the bees into that nuc.  The bees would not cooperate.  They split themselves off.  some stayed in the original slot (to which i added three empty frames) some  stayed in the new nuc.  A ball of bees persisted under the porch lip of the queen castle for two days after.  There looks to be bees in both units now.  I will go into both today.  i never did see any fighting.


Now i can read up on Usurpation.  Thanks


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10framer
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« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2013, 02:07:00 PM »

There was no threat from SHB anywhere I observed it.


so you think that bees that abscond due to hive beetles don't do this?  i've got to think that the two would go hand in hand.  most animals don't just give up and declare themselves genetic dead ends, it goes against most any animals instinct.  i have seen really dumb animals, though.  prairie dogs, turkeys and people are prone to go over to check out a shooting victim.
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