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Author Topic: Late season swarms  (Read 575 times)

Offline 220

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Late season swarms
« on: February 15, 2017, 06:02:21 PM »
Inspected yesterday and found uncapped queen cells in 2 hives and a capped cell in another. 3 out of 3 established hives inspected so something is driving the swarm desire but I have no idea what. Fairly sure they are all swarm cells as they are all on the bottom of frames in the bottom boxes.
Lack of space would be the obvious reason but I did a split on one of the hives 10 days ago, the hive was about 90% full prior to the split and about 70% after I removed frames for the split. Left the original queen in the hive and she was still there yesterday and laying well. The other hives are less than 90% full.
We still have a bit of a flow going, they are bringing in pollen and nectar, weather has been all over the place, record temperatures last week and then Sun/Mon nights below 5c.
I guess the one positive is that if the bees are thinking about swarming then I wasn't to late in making the splits I did 10 days ago.

Any ideas on what might be driving the swarm desire?
I plan on inspecting again tomorrow, adding extra boxes and putting out a few swarm traps just in case.

Offline Van, Arkansas, USA

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Re: Late season swarms
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2017, 07:31:26 PM »
Hello 220,, yes I am like located in USA so one could question my input to a person on my the other side of the planet.  However, I wanted to point out, in our country, particularly Arkansas (south central USA) we had swarms in November.  Very, very late for swarms, almost unheard of.  Bees in Our area were acting unusual in 2016 for lack of better words.

You are correct, swarm cells on bottom, not likely a supersedure nor abscond.  Maybe your bees are behaving a little unusual like our bees in my area.  Late, very late, swarms that I cannot explain other than the bees natural drive to reproduce.  I wished I could offer a better explanation, but reproduction may be the simple answer.

I would like to know the age of your prolific queens.
Best of luck.



Offline Lancej

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Re: Late season swarms
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2017, 03:37:37 AM »
You're not alone with the bees swarming,  and they don't want to go into a box!

Offline hollie

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Re: Late season swarms
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2017, 10:11:27 AM »
I've just collected a swarm here in South West W.A. during a huge red gum blossom. This is a first for me at this time of year, and only the second I've had!
I didn't see any abnormal activity around my 3 hives, but it could be from one of my hives as it settled on the road only a hundred meters away. A small swarm (a bit larger than a cricket ball?), I put a nuc box with 1 very old comb, one waxed up plastic foundation and one unwaxed foundation - just to put more in there. It was very late in the day and no time to take uncapped brood from my hives. The girls walked in peacefully, after a few had flown in and checked it out, so I put the lid on and the bearding bees at the entrance gradually all went in. After about 30 mins, I closed the entrance as all were inside and it was dark.
I have now moved  the box to a site next to my other hives. I figure I'll open the entrance in the dark tonight, after they have settled from the walk up to the other hives.
What are the chances the swarm will stay? Do swarms act differently at this time of year?
I didn't see a queen, but figure they wouldn't go in there without her.  I couldn't leave the box on the road so had to move it home.
Should I provide another frame of waxed foundation for the girls to build?  It's a 4 frame nuc box: how quickly should I move them to an 8 frame hive? I thought perhaps I should leave them a few weeks, but the flow is on and strong.
Greatly appreciate all comments and advice.

Offline Andersonhoney

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Re: Late season swarms
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2017, 12:47:43 AM »
Open them up tonight.  Then watch them fly away tomorrow at about midday.  A swarm this time of year is a waste of time and resources.  Good luck let us know how it goes.

Online yantabulla

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Re: Late season swarms
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2017, 05:28:41 AM »
Hollie Don't waste your time & resources on them  Let them fly away

Offline hollie

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Re: Late season swarms
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2017, 07:31:18 AM »
Thanks so much for your replies.  You were spot on Andersonhoney - I opened them up about 9pm and they left again mid afternoon.  Settled on a shrub nearby. I collected them then returned them to the nuc box but with a new frame I pulled out of another hive - half drawn. They were still going in and out today - but given the previous behaviour I expect them to leave.... I didn't see any pollen going in.  I removed a frame with some capped brood and supplies from another hive, but decided to wait until to put it in until I think they might stay as that hive is cranky as I recently robbed.
Yantabulla, I think you are right - if they are in there and look to move tomorrow, I wont try again. I needed to move a frame or two around, so gave it the second try. Will let you know what's there tomorrow. Cheers.

Offline 220

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Re: Late season swarms
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2017, 10:24:38 PM »
Checked the 2 hives that had the uncapped swarm cells a few days later and they had all been pulled down bar one cell.
Seems they have changed their mind, having enough trouble trying to get a handle on bee behaviour without them doing things like this.
If I stick with it for another 30 years I still don't think I will understand everything they do.

Offline Skeggley

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Re: Late season swarms
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2017, 07:10:29 PM »
Holly, I caught a swarm around the same time as you. It came from a feral tree colony on the block.
Although yours is only small I do not agree with the others with it being a waste of resources.
We are in the middle of a flow at the moment and from what I understand SW included Marri being the primary nectar source. Putting a frame of brood was a good idea and I wouldn't imagine they would leave now. Adding another frame of brood in two weeks will help even more if you have spare resources. Even though it's a flow I'd recommend feeding the swarm to take advantage of their wax machine tendencies. It will be good experience and successful or not you should finish up with some nice comb.
Good luck.

Offline Andersonhoney

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Re: Late season swarms
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2017, 07:47:43 PM »
Skeggley: do the right thing and let us know how it works out for you. Give us a report on how its going. You seem to be putting time and resources into a late season swarm.
Good luck with that.

Offline hollie

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Re: Late season swarms
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2017, 05:11:19 AM »
Hi All

220 - you started this thread, and if I hijacked the flow, I apologise. I am very new to using Forums. I thought it might contribute. On the desire to swarm, a very experienced beek I know said 90% of his hives swarmed this spring (here in Western Australia) which was extraordinary in his 50 years of beekeeping. Perhaps as Van in Arkansas said, it's just an upside down, unusual year.

Skeggley -  [quote author=Skeggley link=topic=49749.msg433896#msg433896 date=1487977829
...I understand SW included Marri being the primary nectar source. Putting a frame of brood was a good idea and I wouldn't imagine they would leave now. Adding another frame of brood in two weeks will help even more if you have spare resources. Even though it's a flow I'd recommend feeding the swarm to take advantage of their wax machine tendencies. It will be good experience and successful or not you should finish up with some nice comb.]quote
Thanks for encouragement & suggestions. I will do as you suggest and feed. As you say, it's all good experience. I will look for a comb with a small amount of brood from a stronger hive when I rob my second hive next week.
I had a quick peek in the nuc box late in the evening last night and they have in fact stayed put. Maybe the brood comb did the trick??

Yantabulla - There was a second small swarm -maybe the size of a tennis ball - and I thought "Uh Oh! They have gone again! That's it" but it turned out to be another swarm. Thinking of your advice, I let that one go.
IF I had collected it, what are the chances it was from the same hive - an after swarm? could I have tried to put it in with the first one ? Seems the probability of it being from the same hive would be high.

What it tells me is I didn't put supers on early enough to reduce the chances of swarming...... Live and learn.

Offline 220

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Re: Late season swarms
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2017, 02:58:31 PM »
@hollie don't worry about the slight change of direction, I'm interested in hearing how you go with them so keep posting updates.

 

anything