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Brisbane Swarms- So Many Questions


#1

Ok So we put our Nuc in our Flow box last October, and the bee have been going great, we did a harvest in the beginning of August and took out abut 4.5 kg of honey and we were over the moon. And we had a plan to do a split in October to prevent swarming, but it seems nature had other ideas.

On the 28th of August my wife called me at work to tell me the air in my neighbors yard was thick with bees. I came home opened the window on my hive and my fist swarm was confirmed. The window that was previously full of bees only had 5 lonely bees walking around.

It was kind of bitter sweet like watching your kids start grade 1.:slight_smile:

Then a couple of days later we found a small swarm in a tree in my neighbours yard “I thought yay my bees came back” So I went and caught the swarm in a cardboard box and put the box in my back yard and the bees are still in there.

But then a strange thing happened, a couple of days later another swarm landed in my neighbours tree about 20 feet off the ground. but this swarm was huge about three time larger than the swarm I caught the first time. this one was too high to catch. and the next day these bees flew away.

And today a swarm appeared in my neighbours trees much lower and this one was about half the size of the 2nd swarm, So I just caught this swarm in another cardboard box.

So the final score is a flow hive with almost no bees and two cardboard boxes full of bees. I am going to buy and paint two new brood boxes for the new bees on the weekend but in the mean time they look pretty happy in the boxes?

So what is going on here? I have ever seen a swarm in my life and now I have see 2 or maybe 3? Are these all my bees? has my hive swarmed 2 or three times in the space of 2 weeks? Or is my hive attracting other peoples swarms? Before I put in my flow hive, I never saw bees in my yard so I assume no one else around me has bees, but I live across from Toohey Forest so maybe there are bees living in the forest that may have swarmed?

My original bees have become really mean? is this because they don’t have a queen?

!


#2

You need to look into the brood box once a week during your swarming season or this is exactly what happens.
Your Prime swarm has taken half your bees and most of your honey. You appear to have two afterswarms. The timing is not quite right unless that Prime of yours went a few days after the queen cells they left behind were capped.
The usual thing is that bees make queen cells and as soon as the first is capped the swarm departs. New queens grow in the queen cells left behind for eight days after which the colony may decide to thin the new queens down to one and get on with life or swarm again and again and sometimes again. Some colonies swarm themselves to non existence.
If I was you I would have a look at what is happening in your brood box first. You probably have a virgin queen in there and she will need to mate.

The small swarms may, of course, have come from somewhere else.


#3

Now is the time that the hive will be most vulnerable to SHB damage. You need to remove any frames that contain brood or pollen out of the brood box that doesn’t have a good covering of worker bees over them.


#4

Ah Yes, this is how you become a legitimate beekeeper. If your brood box is looking empty, then I would consider selecting the best queen and then recombining the two swarms back into your hive using the newspaper method. You will need to make sure there is only 1 queen otherwise they will swarm again.
Alternatively, combine the swarms (selecting 1 queen) into a Nuc or 8-frame hive, leave to establish for a month and then re-combine to the original hive selecting 1 queen.
Make sure the original hive has finished swarming, checks for queen cells will determine this in the short term.
Keep us posted…


#5

Thank you for the advice, so should I take of the flow box off the top and remove the frames from the bottom box that aren’t covered in bees?

If the frames have brood in them what should I do with the brood?Do I just cut the wax out of the frames and put new foundation in?


#6

Thank you i will give this ago I bought an 8 frame box today I install the two swarms on the weekend.

So silly question if I combine the two swarms do I kill one queen? How do I know which on to kill?


#7

That’s why Rodderick has suggested you run the two colonies separately so that you can evaluate which is the better queen.


#8

I would remove the flow box for the time being. If you are happy to let those other two colonies buildup, I would give those colonies the frames of brood from the parent hive that don’t have a good covering of bees on them.

Replace those frames with frames containing fresh foundation. Also flank the brood frames in the swarm colonies with frames containing fresh foundation.

It IS the start of spring. Those 3 colonies have plenty of time to build into really strong colonies. The bees must have known that also. I would refrain from re-uniting them at this point of time. That’s just me.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do, cheers


#9

Like you before last year I had never seen a swarm of bees in my life… I started keeping bees and suddenly people were calling me saying there is a swarm here- a swarm there. A friend was interested in keeping bees too- and I explained to him how I could get a colony started for him if I could find another swarm… One week later he calls me and says a swarm of bees has just flown into his wall! He had lived in that house for over 5 years and had never seen a swarm in his life… i went around and quite miraculously was able to smoke the swarm with queen out of the wall and into a Nuc box. A week later and it re-swarmed and he caught that- so now he has two hives.

It seems that bees work on the Law of Attraction concept… this year I expect I will see swarms everywhere…


#10

Its funny how bees can also attract other bees (or swarms of them) I regularly put up bait hives in my place mainly to catch my own hives that are swarming but it ends up bringing in someone elses bees.
By the way here is a swarm I picked up late last night after getting a call at 8:30pm… Free bees… Woohoo!


#11

So An update I did the full hive inspection today, there were 4 empty queen cells, and there was one that looked like it had a queen just hatching, the top was cut off and I think I could see the a queen in the cell. I could not find a queen on the frames and no eggs or larvae so I left the hatching queen, I thought it is better to have too many queens than not enough. I took out 5 frames and the flow box and but them in an 8 frame box with the strongest of the swarms I caught last week. I have them both a frame of capped honey.

Lesson learnt… don’t try taking out flow frames and tapping in the kitchen, it makes something that should be very easy very sticky and messy, I swear i have honey from on end of the house to the other,


#12

Hi there. I am also near toohey forest in Brisbane and had my hive swarm today! I harvested my first ever harvest of flow honey yesterday. We were so happy with the harvest, I thought that would mitigate any swarm risk. I have been urgently educated. My plan is to do a full hive inspection tomorrow, reduce any queen cells to two r three. In the meantime if you see my bees let me know!


#13

I wouldn’t leave three cells. The colony will probably throw afterswarms. I would reduce to one OPEN cell where I can see a big larva floating in lots of royal jelly. I would go back in a week to remove all the others they will make.


#14

It’s the second time I read today that someone harvested flow frames and the next day the bees swarmed. Could it be the bees suspect something is wrong with their place when a frame gets emptied and look for another abode? Hope it’s just a coincidence and not a rule and they would have swarmed anyway.


#15

We are in Coorparoo Brisbane got through last year no swarms and split our hive 3 weeks ago to try and prevent a swarm but even after the split the flow hive still sent of one large swarm and a second small swarm.
Caught the large swarm and placed it right back next to the original hive. So gone from 1 flow hive to 3 hives in 3 weeks! As many of the experts on this site have mentioned before if the bees have already decided to go then not much you can do about it. The earlier you get in when signs of a really strong hive the better. Ah the joys of bee keeping.Happy to get together and share our experiences over the last couple of years. Has been very successful and enjoyable plus the honey over 40kg is a bonus.
Gary


#17

Hi again, we’ll the highs and lows and highs continued today. I did a full hive inspection and there was more bees and capped brood than I was expecting. I saw a sealed queen cell so put it all back together. Later today I got a call from a neighbor a bout a swarm of bees in a tree! I’ve recaptured them and put them in a nuc box. I think I’ve got the queen so we’ll see what happens over the next few days.


#18

Swarm preps are started weeks before they actually go. You can interrupt them up to a point or react to imminent swarming to keep your bees. That’s why regular inspections of the brood box during the swarming season are an absolute must.


#19

With some luck they are your bees.
When you inspected did you shake bees off every frame?


#20

Do people think I need to put a bee lock on the front entrance to prevent the swarm bees from absconding? Also considering putting a frame from original hive in swarm nuc box but worried about further weakening the original hive.


#21

Putting a frame of brood into the swarm Nuc isn’t a bad idea it will help the swarm to establish, but you need to decide what the plan is, will you keep the two colonies separate or recombine in a month or two to strengthen your bee numbers. Just depends on what you want to do, have multiple hives or have 1 strong hive.