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Incoming Swarms


#1

I lost all my bees last winter. Left plenty of honey and food but one box after the other there were no more bees, just a few wasps.
I work away from home in the winter months so I left the boxes untouched. I was planning to clean the boxes and buy more bees but just haven´t had the time. Anyways, it was probably a good thing because there are now bees in the boxes.
Last few days bees have started swarming here in Chile and it looks like three swarms from my neighbour have made a bee-line to my boxes. Lucky me!
Are the queens in a swarm old queens or new ones? Should I be looking at replacing the queens is really what I am asking?
Appreciate any advice.


#2

Hi Steve, the primary swarms will come with an older queen, the secondary-caste swarms will come with virgin queens.

If the colony of the primary swarms aren’t happy with the older queens as the colony builds, they will naturally supersede her when the time is right.


#3

Hi Steve, JeffH has given his usual reliable sound advice. The queen, young or old, is still capable of laying eggs, Leave the colony to decide on the queens future in the colony. She build the numbers up again after the swarm.
I would give them time to settle into their new home and then check the brood size and pattern and if you are happy with it then leave well enough alone. If she is a weak egg layer then you could ‘terminate’ her and the colony will reproduce a new queen.
Regards


#4

Steve, just to add a bit more. I know you’re time poor, however I would check in the boxes to make sure that all of the brood frames the new bees are using are good frames with a high %age of worker comb. Wax moth may have gotten into them. Also scrape the floor clean.


#5

Thanks Jeff and Peter,

About two weeks ago two boxes were populated by bees. I do not think there many bees because there was little activity. Yesterday I watched a swarm arrive and move into one of the boxes. A cloud of bees that settled to form a beard under the box. Then they walked in like a crowd going to a football game. Fascinating to watch. Could the first arrival have been a secondary-caste and the yesterday a primary swarm?
I will leave the girls in peace for a couple of weeks before I go looking inside.


#6

The order of swarms leaving a hive is the primary first and secondary swarms later given that the beekeeper has been a bit slack in his hive management. To my knowledge I have not had swarming from my hives but I do a lot to prevent that happening.
When “Joe public” sees a swarming next door it commonly leads to an issue sadly. One persons loss is your gain in your case.
Regards Steve.