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Author Topic: Swarm capture - now what?  (Read 3651 times)
Beekeeper Bill
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« on: June 13, 2004, 04:32:15 PM »

I have two hives.  One healthy and the other not so healthy.  In fact, I posted a question about requeening the not so healthy hive back in May. (I did end up requeening)

The good hive just swarmed - even though it had ample expansion room I must not have caught all the queen cells.

I captured the swarm and have it nicely packaged in it's own frame but I don't want a 3rd hive so I'm looking for a way to merge it into one of my two hives.  I assume I cannot merge it back into the hive it came from since I will have two thriving queens.  

Can I merge it in with the not-so-healthy hive?  There are bees in the hive, just not that many and even though I requeened a month ago I don't see much fruit of her labor......

Any suggestions welcomed.
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Beth Kirkley
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« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2004, 06:00:18 PM »

(I've never done this, but this is what I've read.)
Others surely will post, and either add to my post or correct a few things.

From what I understand, you can most definately add the swarm to the weak hive. I think that sounds like a great idea actually. You'll have to find the queen from the swarm, and kill her. Then place the box that has the swarm in it above the weak hive. I'm guessing you have some frames of honey and brood in there with the swarm too. That's the usual way people get the swarm to stay in the box.
Anyway, put the swarm ontop of the weak hive, seperated with a couple sheets of newspaper that has a few slices in it. Not big enough for the bees to crawl through, just big enough for the scent of the weak hive to come through. The new swarm and old hive will chew through the paper and integrate.

Beth
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leominsterbeeman
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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2004, 09:15:03 PM »

I agree with Beth.  

I have not do this either....

Keep in mind that if you ask 3 beekeepers the same question,  you will
get 5 differet answers.

A few things I have heard about this technique.

You want the stronger hive on top,  this is the queen that you want to keep (is this the new requeened one that swarmed?).   If you don't want to
kill a queen,  they will battle and the stonger one will win out  or----
you may get lucky and the two will accept eachother because their smell has integrated and therefore you will have a two queen hive that builds up fast.

If you want to kill a queen - smush her on a low tree branch away from your hives, you may catch a new swarm. evil
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Beth Kirkley
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« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2004, 10:10:09 PM »

I've been strongly warned never to let the queens duel it out if you can avoid it. That they WILL fight. Only one wins, and you could end up with a wounded and now weak queen in the hive. And she may die later from any wounds.
But yes, put the swarm on top of the current hive, and don't give them an exit. They'll be fine, but if you don't have any frames of honey for them to reach, them give them a feeder - frame feeder or top feeder.

Beth
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Lupus
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« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2004, 11:37:04 PM »

I think you are getting some good advice here. Here are a few other things to think about.

It is usually better to have two equal hives than one weak and one strong. As you have found, the strong hive often swarms becoming weak and the weak one often does not make it through the winter.

By balancing the two hives you can often help them both. You can strengthen the weaker hive by removing a frame or two of brood from the stronger hive and adding them to the weaker. Of course you want to make sure the queen is not on the robbed brood frames. You also want to shake most of the bees off those brood frames. You can also move honey and pollen between the two hives to balance them.

Young bees usually cling to brood frames longer than older bees. So when you shake a frame its usually the older bees that come off first. The young bees may not even be able to fly. With experience you will begin to notice the difference between older and younger bees. Young bees are usually welcome in any hive and are much less likely to try and ball a new queen.

Some of the more recent research on bees has proven that the pheromone secreted by a queen decreases every day she is alive. It is believed that it is largely this pheromone that keeps the hive from swarming. Many commercial and hobby beekeepers have started requeening all hives every year in order to reduce swarming. Marked queens are much easier to spot in hives. If there is an unmarked queen in a hive then the one that was placed there has been superseded. Commercially bred queens have been bred for specific desirable traits whereas the traits of an unknown queen are well unknown. Requeening in the fall of every year gives you a strong viable queen and a lower chance of swarming for spring of the following year.

Other queen management practises can also help. Splitting a hive with a queen that you want to replace is often a good idea. A dual queen management screen or just a screen (and entrance) can be placed between two halves. The old bees will leave the queenless split and go to the queened half leaving brood and young bees in one split. The queenless split then becomes an excellent place to put the new queen with very little risk of her being balled. This way both queens are retained until such time as you decide that the new queen is established and laying. Merging the two halves back together can be done as explained in the posts above.
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« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2004, 07:03:19 AM »

I checked the hive the swarm came from - they are still doing fine.  Plenty of bees to keep it going healthy.  I also checked the dud hive - the one I requeened a month ago.  The dud hive has maybe 1000 bees in the whole colony.  I did find brood but only on two frames and only about the size of my open hand - very little.  Only 3 frames in the colony had any activity at all.  At this rate, I don't see this hive surviving the winter.  

And, I could not find the queen.

So my focus is on reintroducing the swarm into the dud hive.  I placed the frame with the swarm directly on top of the lid to the dud hive so that they are close to their new home.  Later this afternoon I'll make one more stab at trying to find the dud hive's queen, and go from there.
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Beekeeper Bill
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« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2004, 07:04:49 AM »

That "guest" posting was from me........somehow the system had logged me out.....
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Beth Kirkley
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« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2004, 10:19:11 AM »

One other thing you could do, if you're worried that the dud hive even has a queen anymore or if she's not that great. You could put the swarm queen in a queen cage and try her out in the dud hive before combining the hives. If they attack her through the wire, you probably still have a good queen in the dud. But if they act as if they want to care for her, then you could let them release her WHILE you're combining the hive. Or just put her back with the swarm and combine.

Beth
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TEN
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« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2004, 06:00:47 PM »

I have done this and it works quite well but omitt the second sheet of newspaper and omit the slits.  The idea behind the merging is the swarm without the queen needs the pheromone of the queen and eating through the paper takes several days (so they inherently lose the remaining traces of the former queen).  In the progress of working on the paper and hearing/sensing the other bees and loss of the queens scent, merging takes place naturally.  But whatever you do ensure that the queen with the 1000 bees is still alive.  I have seen robbing occur and the queen be killed in the process by the robbers, because of the hives weakness.

Hope this helps.
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