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My bees swarmed!

Oh no! My bees swarmed today! Story:

My bees have been going well, it is a first year hive and this is their first Spring. I had inspected them two weeks ago but was not able to check them recently due to bad weather. I did not see any queen cells but it seems I had missed one.

I decided to check on them after heavy rain and to my surprise they had swarmed 10 metres from the first hive! A huge sickening feeling swept over me as I felt I have failed as a Keeper! I rung my mentor and told him what had happened. He told me that it was going to be okay, and asked if I had a broodbox or nuc to put them in.

Nope.

I had gotten a hive earlier this year from a friend that had not been made up so I quickly started to make and paint it! I collected them, and it was hard in 30 degree weather, and put them in an plactic drum with a screw able lid that I drilled a hole in the top for them to get in/ out.

While waiting for the paint to dry I saw how most of them were collecting outside, I was worried they would fly off again and yep, they did!

This time in a terrible spot. On a bush, on a small hill, riiiiight above a huge ants nest! I knew I had some time to finish the hive which I did, sat the hive on a chair away from the ants and shook them in. This time they have 8 frames of wax to go crazy. As I am typing this now I did this around 20 minutes ago. But my mentor is unreachable right now so I have some questions:

-Should I move them once it gets dark?
-How far from the first hive?
-What should I do tomorrow morning to aide them?

-Anything else I should know?

I really hope they don’t swarm again, lucky I live on a big property. My mentor told me to leave my first Hive as it may have a Virgin Queen.

Below is a photo of them at this time, they are all inside and fanning. You can see the ants below. I left the lid aswek as I’ve heard it would make it easier for them to find the hive. For reference it is 4:00pm!

As well, should I inspect my first hive? I am planning to give them feed tomorrow if all goes well. Just checked up on them again and they seem to be more stable

What you could do is give them a frame with mostly open brood, in the middle flanked by the foundation frames. I would put the lid on properly because the bees in the box will lure the rest of the colony by fanning their scent out at the entrance.

I probably wouldn’t have painted the box so close to when you want a swarm to stay put. However fingers crossed that with the aid of a frame of open brood, the bees will stay.

Most of my same-day swarm captures stay put with the aid of a frame of brood. To be sure, a good plan would be to take the swarm far enough away so that they can’t forage in familiar terrain, just in case the scouts have picked out a spot they prefer over your box.

I have seen, on the odd occasion, bees leave brood behind because the scouts lure them away. With that in mind, the more open brood you provide, the better the chance of the bees staying.

PS @bonun , you probably don’t have to feed the bees, unless the hive is completely empty of honey.
Remember that bees swarm during a period of plenty of nectar & pollen around, not during a dearth.

Well that new beebox as of now only has 8 completey new frames with a honeycomb sheet in each, in other words, no actual Honey right now in the 2nd Hive. So you do suggest openeing my original Hive to grab brood? The one with the potentioal Virgin Queen? Since my mentor told me to leave it for 2-3 weeks. I just ran out then and closed the lid like you suggested, it has been multiple hours since they moved. They seem very docile and inactive right now. I also live on a 5 acre property so do you suggest I move them on the other side of said property? I only have a few hours of daylight left

Because I may have to give them food/brood tomorrow

You can safely move them at night. All the scout bees will be home. Hopefully then the bees will then in orientate to the new location come tomorrow.

hopefully, just wondering if or should I take some brood for them

Hi again, the bees don’t need the brood or honey. The frame of open brood is just a thing that I do to increase my chances of holding the swarm to the capture box. Hopefully they’ll stay without it. One or two drops (no more) of lemongrass oil smeared inside the box also increases the chances.

Think of honey bees in the natural world. Before they swarm, they fill up on honey, which gives them fuel to swarm, hang about waiting for scouts, then fly to the new location with enough honey on board to start building new comb. We can certainly help them, however it’s not necessary.

Honey bees are really in touch with their surroundings, forage wise. They also know the time of season, by the lengthening or shortening of the days. They must also have a builtin barometer, so they can work out the best time to swarm.

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thanks for the advice. I just moved them to the other side of my property, they have been inside the hive for a couple of hours since I posted. It is now night so I will check them tommorrow

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Hi Bonun, sorry I forgot to answer that question. The other side of the property doesn’t do anything if the scout bees have decided on a different location because their foraging range could be a mile or more. You would need to move it a couple or more miles away, if you were going to take the colony outside of their range.

Because it’s a first day capture, chances are that the scouts haven’t found anything to get excited about yet. Therefore I would suggest moving the hive back to where it’s more convenient for you, or take it several miles away.

Thanks for the info, okay so to wrap up:

-I don’t need to do anything with the swarmed hive, correct? No need to give them brood or anything? (apart from move them further away)

-Don’t need to check the first hive they swarmed from and let them be for 2 weeks? Or should I just in case

Anything else I could do, as I am a first year beekeeper so this has been quite stressful and challenging for me, as I was expecting to do a manual split next year.

Thanks

To answer your 3 questions: correct in all cases. However there is a slight risk of the colony absconding from your hive. The things that I do minimize that risk, based on past experiences. I have also had quite stressful moments in the past, which I have learnt from. I think the biggest single lesson is to not let bees stress me out.

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Cool thank you, will let both hives rest for 2 weeks, but will still monitor them from the outside

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To add, after looking at the hive this afternoon (2PM) they seem to be doing orientation flights, flying to and around the entrance in a zig-zag like motion, which is hopefully a good sign

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Hopefully this is a sign they like the new home you have them.

First year bee keeping is steep learning curve. It will get less stressful.

Well done on catching your first swarm. Now you have 2 hives :wink:

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Hello again, just an update and a question. I checked the swarm hive again today and lots activity out the front, it seems more orientation flights which seems to be good. I assume this might go on for a few days. Just I am expecting spots of rain over the next week so hopefully they will be okay. Maybe it could be a good thing forcing them to hunker down into their new home. I do not know.

Just one more question, ages ago I reduced the entrance to my first hive by around 1.5 inches, to help with defence and wintering. I checked said hive as well and they seem to be going well, but they look a bit ‘congested’. Lots of bees gathered in a ball like way in the entrance.

Should I make the entrance bigger to help them out?

We’re in a flow. It’s spring. Open it up all the way.

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