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Author Topic: Late swarm (no established colony)  (Read 689 times)

Offline 220

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Late swarm (no established colony)
« on: January 17, 2017, 12:46:58 AM »
Had a phone call from mum yesterday telling me there were a heap of bees hanging around an old hollow tree in one of the back paddocks.
Was on the way home from Sydney and to late to check them out when we got home, left for Melbourne at 6am this morning so will be Thursday before I can check it out.
I know the exact tree as I have about 20 pumpkins growing only a few metres away, certainly no bees there last week and at the start of November the hollow actually had wood ducks nesting in it.
I guessing a feral hive that has swarmed or moved, nearest hives I'm aware of besides my own are about 5km away.
Thought it was late for a swarm but my bees were still bringing in plenty of pollen an nectar last week so I guess feral hives would be doing likewise.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2017, 03:55:27 PM by 220 »

Offline 220

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Re: Late swarm
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2017, 05:48:00 AM »
Today was the first chance I had to check it out, went prepared to have a crack at picking up a swarm that had just moved in. 2x 5 frame nuc boxes 10 frames, suit smoker and a few tools.
Found a stump about 5m high with bees going in and out of a north facing split. Not the tree I was thinking when I got the call but another only about 20m away.


Cut into the front of the tree about 450mm below where the bees were entering and exiting and pulled a strip about 200mm wide out.

Removed a few pieces of comb from the bottom and used rubber bands to hold them in a frame, Decided it might be easier to start from the top so cleaned up what rubbish I could from above the hive and soon realised it wasn't a fresh swarm. Nearly 1.5m of comb height and couldn't tell how wide or deep.
Not much to do but keep cutting and see what we had, soon realised there was no way it was going in a 5x5nuc so sent the offsiders to grab some foam vegetable boxes.
When I finished cutting this is what we had


300mm round 1.5m long piece of comb that had been built around what the white ants had left when they finished eating.
Decided the easiest thing would be to try and remove it in one piece, cut the bottom out of 2 vegie boxes and ran a bit of duct tape around to hold them together giving me close to a 1m box.
Broke the bottom 300mm off accidently trying to remove it in one piece. Bit that broke was mainly honey with a little pollen in new comb that was just to heavy. What I did get out weighed around 50kg and was still to tall for the 3 boxes together. Given I had a frame with a bit of brood and larvae I had removed earlier decided to cut a box lid and place a nuc box on top with that frame and another with foundation. Couldn't fit any more due to the cut out taking up room.

Plenty of bees were still hanging on the tree, have left them alone to find their own way into their new home.
Pulled out and took the broken pieces of comb that were still in the tree to crush and strain.

The fun now will be trying to get the comb cut out of the white ant mess into frames and a more permanent lodgings. The bees were remarkable calm, I even resorted to a hammer and chisel to remove some pieces and while it obviously upset them at no time did they become aggressive, never had more than one or two bees around my head. Did cop 2 stings through my sweet drenched gloves but it was as a result of crushing bees when I was pulling pieces of tree out. I think I have found the perfect bees to start building from, calm, easy to work and well adjusted to the local environment.
 

« Last Edit: January 21, 2017, 02:32:26 PM by 220 »

Offline FishermanAllen

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Re: Late swarm
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2017, 06:02:13 AM »
A nice catch, just wondering did you get the Queen without damaging her or will you just re- Queen??
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Offline 220

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Re: Late swarm
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2017, 06:23:53 AM »
Don't know at this stage, I'm hopping the queen is some where in the middle of the mass of comb. Apart from a couple of pieces of comb I removed from the centre at the bottom that had capped brood and larvae everything else I damaged was honey.
Plenty of bees still hanging on the stump, I will check tomorrow and hopefully they have moved across to the box, if not will have a closer look for the queen still in the stump.

Don't know how I will proceed from here with them, the comb really is a mess having been built around and through the white and eaten remains of the stump but I need to get it into frames some how. Bit concerned I may kill the queen trying to remove the comb and mount it in frames. I do have a couple of queens ordered that should arrive in about 10 days if the worst happens.

Very new to bees (got my first nuc 6 weeks ago) so any advice is welcome.

Offline Kevcook

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Re: Late swarm (no established colony)
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2017, 07:27:06 PM »
Nice, I'm very interested to see how you go with it, do you have a separate top entrance into the foam box or have you joined the nuc somehow and they enter through the nuc?

Good luck with it, it would be nice if you have managed to save the queen. 

Offline 220

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Re: Late swarm (no established colony)
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2017, 07:52:56 PM »
Nuc box is just a box no bottom board so is just sitting over a nuc size hole in the foam lid. Only entrance is a hole I cut in the end of one of the foam boxes. There were a few bees entering and leaving via the hole when I left them yesterday so hopefully those outside have found it.
Built 8 nuc boxes the past few weeks, 4 have bottom boards attached and 4 are just boxes so if needed I could put together a 5x5x5x5x5 nuc. I'm short on full sized boxes so will have to go with the 5 frame nucs for now.
I will check them today and might start trying to sort the comb and get it into frames. Should be able to take my time with it and work down from the top, removing the foam boxes one at a time and adding nuc boxes as needed to hold the frames.

Going to be a learning experience for sure.

Offline Kevcook

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Re: Late swarm (no established colony)
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2017, 12:10:26 AM »
Good on ya, I hope you take plenty of pics as I would like to learn from your experiences as well.

Cheers

Kev

Offline 220

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Re: Late swarm (no established colony)
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2017, 05:11:43 PM »
Well they say the best learning experiences are our mistakes and I think I made one yesterday.
Decided to try and remove all the comb and put it into frames. Took a couple of hours to sort the mess and plenty of spilt honey. Once I got the worst of the white ant mess off the outside the sheets of comb weren't to difficult to remove. Comb was almost 2 frames long and slight wider than a deep in places so I cut them to fit the frames and have held them in place with rubber bands. Ended up with 15 frames probably about 4-5 of brood and the rest honey and pollen. Didn't spot the queen anywhere and a good chance I have drowned or killed her in the transfer.

When I took the lid of the nuc the frames of brood I had put in the first day had a very good coverage of bees, only had a handful of bees still on them when I first put them in so the bees were obviously moving up to take care of them. There were still a fair few bees in the stump but not as many as the previous afternoon so most has obviously moved across, probably because I had the queen safely in the mass of comb.

I think the ideal thing to do would have been add another nuc box on top with drawn comb and waited. Im sure the queen would have moved up and started laying fairly quickly. Once she had it would of been fairly strait forward to locate her and make sure she was safe before trying to get the existing comb into frames.

Interesting that even after moving them from the stump to the foam boxes the foragers were out working and bringing in pollen and nectar while I was trying to get the comb moved yesterday. While I saw capped brood and larvae in the move, I didn't take the time to see if there were fresh eggs. There were some patches of uncapped cells among the capped brood that I didn't manage to cover in honey so hoping some of them contain eggs and the bees can use them to take care of the damage Ive done.

Live and learn I guess, I want the genetics from these bees more than the bees themselves, with hindsight even without any drawn frames I think would still have been better off giving them some more frames with foundation and letting them do their thing for a while before trying to get everything into frames.



Offline Kevcook

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Re: Late swarm (no established colony)
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2017, 02:56:44 AM »
The bees will probably clean it all up, just wondering if you were conscious of placing the comb the right way up when you put it in the frames.

I can understand why you want to save the genetics, the best you can hope for if you have lost the queen is that they can replace it and they should if there are eggs or young larva, you will know in a few more days if you can see queen cells.

good luck & thanks for posting

Kev

Offline 220

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Re: Late swarm (no established colony)
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2017, 07:21:00 AM »
Tried to keep the orientation the same with the brood but didn't worry to much with the honey.
I added another box with frames of foundation and half frames of foundation Monday.
Had a look today and they have pretty much drawn all the foundation and are working on extending the shorter half depth foundation. They have already filled everything they have drawn with honey and I had a nice surprise when I spotted the queen on one of the newly drawn frames.
I would guess 1/3 of the bees are still hanging in the old stump. As I now know the queen is alive and in the hive thinking it may be just due to a lack of space and work to do. I guess given they have been madly cleaning up the spilt honey and storing it as quick as they can draw comb the foragers would be smart enough not to be bringing in nectar and might be at a loss with what to do.
Gave them another 5 frames with starter strips of foundation and will check them again in a few days.

Offline Kevcook

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Re: Late swarm (no established colony)
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2017, 11:37:06 PM »
Well done.  :smile:

Offline 220

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Re: Late swarm (no established colony)
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2017, 05:52:07 AM »
Checked again today, last inspection the bottom board was covered in debris and lousy with SHB larvae, swapped bottom boards, killed all the larvae and put in a apithor beetle trap.  No sign of any SHB or larvae today,
The queen is laying in the freshly drawn comb on the foundation I gave them. Capped brood and plenty of larvae, still have plenty of bees hanging in their old stump don't know what to do with them.

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Late swarm (no established colony)
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2017, 06:10:50 AM »
Good job.

If you have a bee vacuum, in the evening, vacuum the up and if possible remove the stump. Dump the bees into the top of the hive.
Hi
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Late swarm (no established colony)
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2017, 08:55:35 AM »
still have plenty of bees hanging in their old stump don't know what to do with them.
Can they fly?  Are they robbing what is left?  Is there some brood anchoring them down?  If there is not a lot of them it might be better to douse them with soapy water and burn out the stump.  No point in bringing back any varroa to your clean hive.
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Offline 220

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Re: Late swarm (no established colony)
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2017, 02:49:53 PM »
I don't have a bee vac but being in Aus don't have to worry about varroa. If I brush bees from the stump and dump them on the landing board 90% of them walk straight in but they cant be orientating to the new hive and must be returning to the stump. Hive is less than a yard away, plenty on bees in the hive with good coverage on 15 frames and with the queen laying im not overly concerned but it would be nice to get them across.
Just after 5am and it is 66F so those outside the hive aren't facing harsh conditions, I may just cut down the stump and drag it 50y away, if they return to the original site it wont be there only the new hive.