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Author Topic: Swarm capture - was it ours?  (Read 1716 times)
2-Wheeler
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« on: May 19, 2007, 10:35:17 PM »

We captured our first swarm today, what a hoot!

I found a huge swarm on a small pine tree about 30 feet from our first (only) hive, just as I was setting up a new hive box for the package bees that were supposed to be installed today, but were delayed another week.  We sadly sacrificed the pine tree to capture the bees - but the size of the load was probably triple the size we would have got with the 3 lb package. The tree can be replaced, I thought it was  good trade.

We didn't open up the original hive today, because of the large number of bees from the swarm nearby, but they seemed to be still going about their business.

My question is this: If the swarm came from our hive, is there a chance some would go back to the original hive? Or would they be marked in some way now as aliens?  Just after we installed the new bees in the new hive, quite a few went for the old hive box and gathered on the front. It didn't seem to be a fight, but it was interesting to watch.  See the video clip:


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-David Broberg   CWOP#: CW5670 / CoCoRaHS #CO-BO-218
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UtahBees
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« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2007, 11:44:35 PM »

Sorry - I don't have an answer for you, rather a comment: Awesome capture! Thanks for sharing the video too.

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nepenthes
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« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2007, 12:25:04 AM »

Just Grabem with your hands!
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« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2007, 07:08:23 AM »

Even if they didn't come from your hive (though if your queen was marked you would know for sure Wink ) stragglers could migrate to your old hive without issue.
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Mici
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« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2007, 07:12:14 AM »

a huge swarm indeed.
but let me ask you this, did you have any kind of hive empty and ready, or did they just come flying by because they like to be in company?

a tree can be replaced, but where will the next swarm settle? Smiley

nice footage!
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2-Wheeler
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« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2007, 05:12:11 PM »

but let me ask you this, did you have any kind of hive empty and ready, or did they just come flying by because they like to be in company?

Well, I was just placing the new (empty) hive box when I noticed the swarm. They must have been there before I set it up.

Today, we went back to check on things and this is where things start to get strange.  I guess catching these swarms is not as easy as it looks on TV  embarassed

First we checked up on the main (old) hive. It was very-full of bees, about as full as we've ever seen it. The upper deep was about 70% full of honey and most of it capped. We could see larvae in the space below, although we didn't remove the upper deep. We did not see the queen, but the bees weren't unusually agitated. We decided to add the first honey super to give them more room. 

After that, we went to open up the new (swarm) hive and check on them and to place the remaining frames. To our surprise there was NOBODY HOME!  Well a few bees were poking around in there but the huge pile we dumped in there yesterday was no where to be seen - gone! 

I can only think of two explanations (besides alien abduction) that could explain this:
A. The swarm was originally our bees and they had only been out of the main hive for a short time, and happily returned to the original hive after their short "field trip".
B. The swarm was not originally our bees, and they for some reason picked up and moved on, not being happy with the perfectly acceptable living quarters I provided and are now nowhere in sight.

As for explanation "A", is it common or typical?  Does this explain the crowds on the original hive exterior in the video? Did we make a mistake by locating their new home so close to the original? What might be the status of the Queen(s) for this to happen?

As for explanation "B", is it common or typical?  After they gladly marched in, why would they leave?

Are there other theories?
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-David Broberg   CWOP#: CW5670 / CoCoRaHS #CO-BO-218
Blog: http://beesandblooms.blogspot.com/
My Weather: http://www.leyner.org/
My Flickr Album: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dbroberg/
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« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2007, 05:19:44 PM »

A is not an option, except if the queen got killed during the capture, but it's highly unlikely, i mean..you're almost sure it's not "your" swarm so..i think it's safe to say A can't be

B would be right, shame...you should have read the forum before more, on how to restrain a swarm
why they did not like the new home, remains a mystery every time, so there's no point wasting time, why they didn't like it

to restrain a swarm do:
a) frame of brood, preferably open-insert it in
b) put them in a box-with a hardware cloth on one side-so the air can pass, and put them in a basement, so they don't get hot. after you start seeing the first dead bees (3 days after the swarm left the hive, but you can't know how many days passed with a stray swarm) you install them and feed them right away.

there are other methods i guess but this two seem to be working for most of people.
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kathyp
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« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2007, 05:39:13 PM »

C. when you picked up the swarm, you missed the queen.  you probably already checked the place where you found the swarm?   also, someone on here had caught a swarm, it left and came back.  don't remember who.  leave the box.  who knows? you might get lucky  smiley
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« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2007, 08:20:03 AM »

Checking the books, I found yet another theory that supports case-A above: I call it the "Left Behind" theory:
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A clipped queen will attempt to leave the hive with a swarm, but being unable to fly will not accompany the other bees in flight and will be left behind, usually on the ground near the hive from which she attempted to swarm. The swarming bees without a flying queen, may return to the hive while they still airborne, cluster on the ground with the queen, or cluster on a branch nearby. After a brief time they will return to the hive.
This is from pp 104 of The Beekeeper's Handbook, by Diana Sammataro & Alphonse Avitabile.

I believe our queen was clipped.  Cry
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-David Broberg   CWOP#: CW5670 / CoCoRaHS #CO-BO-218
Blog: http://beesandblooms.blogspot.com/
My Weather: http://www.leyner.org/
My Flickr Album: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dbroberg/
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« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2007, 08:33:17 AM »

To prevent case B,  I always put a queen excluder between the bottom board and hive body when hiving a swarm to prevent the queen from leaving.  After a few days and verification that the queen is laying, I remove it.

I know the disappoint.  You go from a big high from getting the swarm to extreme disappointment when there are gone.  Not to mention the loss of the tree in the process tongue
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« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2007, 11:00:57 AM »

Great story, too darn bad that the swarm left though.

I remember somewhere reading that when a swarm is issued and the queen is with it, the bees in their flurry and confusion, are so deeply involved with the swarm mindset, that they forget where their home is and will never return to it.  It is swarming that is on the mind of the whole and scouts and their quest to find a new home.  I don't know if this cup holds water, but that is a recollection I have.  Don't take these comments are perfect, bare truth.  Have a great day, wonderful life, Cindi
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« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2007, 08:48:39 PM »

I'm with 2-Wheeler on this great adventure. I checked the records and 2-Wheeler was mistaken our queen was marked, but not clipped. The main hive is bustling with activity and still quite full. It doesn't look like we had a swarm departure just yet.  I think this was a stray swarm and we just didn't know enough to restrain them - lesson learned.

Now we have a new delemma and need some suggestions. The second package of bees is due on Friday this week, but there still seem to be a few hundred bees scattered in the hive we are planning to use. Should we ignore the stragglers and just dump the new package in with them? Or should we evict them and close the new hive box up until the new package arrives?

Becky
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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2007, 09:05:03 PM »

If theres only a few I,d just let them be and I'm sure they will get along with the others fine with the commotion of installing a package.
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« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2007, 10:07:19 AM »

Becky, I'm with Ken on that.  Just let the few straggler bees be.  Good luck, have a wonderful day.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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