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My hive swarmed, and it was kind of a hilarious amateur hour moment


#1


So I came home from work Tuesday around noon to find my hive had swarmed, and the bees were sitting in the Eucalyptus tree hanging between my yard and the neighbors yard. I immediately go into quasi-panic mode because I am not prepared for this. I run and grab my back up frames(totally unassembled) grab the brad nailer and some wood glue and snap them together as quick as I can. The only extra box I have is the Flow frame box which I was just about to put on this hive. Slide the 8 new frames into the Flow box and repurpose the 10 frame lid to fit over the 8 frame box.

With the lid off, I grab the ladder, and some pruning sheers, and have the presence of mind to put on the veil (otherwise wearing an undershirt and basketball shorts with flip flops (its in the 90’s here people)). I think “Swarms are pretty docile I don’t need to get my suit on…”

So I underestimate how heavy these bees are but all in all do okay not knocking off too many of them when I clip the branch they were on. However the awkwardness of being on the ladder using the clippers in one hand/armpit, and the swarm in the other, and then climbing down the ladder, I guess I was just a bit too rough with them and roused a few of the ladies interest.

So I only got stung 3 times (the one of the sole of my foot is probably the most painful, don’t bee keep in flip flops). They are still in the box I shook them into and I am picking up a new 10 frame box on Friday to transfer them into. But I had to chuckle at was an amateur hour moment it turned into. In the picture above you can see the swarm happen, and it was 12.6 lbs of “honey packed” bees, and I am really fortunate to have been able to recover them.


#2

Wonderful to hear from you again @adagna! Hope all is going well for you in other ways too.

Warmest regards,

Dawn
:heart_eyes:


#3

Things are very good! Busy but good.

I am really hoping the new queen isn’t aggressive, but I may have to try my hand at requeening if she’s too Africanized.


#4

I just had a really good experience with these guys, if you are looking for absolutely non-Africanized queens. Make sure you ask for Hawaii queens, because they have CA and HI queens for sale - you may need to call them:


#5

Hi Adam, ditto to what @Dawn_SD said. I mentioned your name a couple of times in relation to my upside down brood experiment.

I agree about the pain of a sting on the sole of the foot. For me around the back & side of the heel was the worse.


#6

Last time we went out inspecting, I told my husband that he might want to check some below waist zippers… I reckon that might be a real zinger! :rofl: :sweat_smile: :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


#7

I agree Dawn, sometimes when I need to take a walk while attending my bees, I have to go a fair way on account of bees trying to get me. Even then I’m cautious. I’d hate to get one of those zingers. It might be a good thing if size matters.


#8

I know in talking with some of the swarm removal guys in the local club that the vast majority of swarms and the resulting hives are very docile and easy to deal with. So I will keep a close eye on them and see how they behave. In a perfect world I would like to try to get a workable native queen due to being better adapted (hopefully) to our brutal summer heat. But if I need to re-queen I will give them a call.


#9

That was a very interesting experiment, and I still appreciate you taking the time to test the theory, and ultimately disproving it.


#10

Hi Adam, is the 12.6 pounds in the ball park for a prime swarm? - I’m trying to work out weight etc. of half the bees and half the honey. I’m wondering if they really do take half the honey?


#11

My totally shoot from the hip guess would be that it was more like 9-10 lbs of bees and the rest honey. Unfortunately I don’t have a scale on the swarm hive, to know how it works out after the initial swarm.


#12

Ok…I just read somewhere that someone thinks about 40 per cent of the weight of the swarm is honey. So they didn’t really take much with them at all in the scheme of things.


#13

It is possible, this was all just based on the results of the scale being total weight removed from the hive and my totally novice attempt to guesstimate it.

It seems like there was at least 2.5-3X’s more bees then when I bought my package. So that is why I am estimating it at around 9#.

However 40% of their total weight would be 5#, which would mean there are 7.6# of bees. That is certainly possible as they were swarmed around leaves and branches which might have made them appear more bulky then they were. And that is over twice as many as a package which would still be well within what is reasonable from what I witnessed.


#14

Missed ya, Adam!! Nice to see you back :rainbow::sunglasses::clap:

Great story too :sweat_smile:


#15

I had pretty much the exact same experience back in spring. I walked out into my yard- looked up- and saw the hugest cloud of bees I have ever seen. They settled into a citrus tree- and liek you I spent the next hour running around madly- making frames and getting a fried to drive over with a hive that he just happened to have ready. My swarm was massive- and lodged deep in a prickly part of the tree. I was balanced on a ladder scooping the bees in handfuls as it wasn’t possible to shake them. I didn’t get stung- but when my friend had a go- he instantly got about 40 stingers in a glove when he tried to scoop- he just pushed his hand into the ball too forcefully.

He took the swarm away and within a month they had filled out his new ten frame box.

meanwhile my hive has struggled all season failing to make a good queen three times- and producing no honey. I have been donating frames of brood to it for months just to keep it going. I am hoping the 4th queen is just now starting to lay…


#16

I feel like Tom Seeley has said something about this at some point. The answer I remember was that the maximum a bee can carry is around her own body weight in honey. I would imagine a swarm would go for close to maximum, but not everyone may have time to load up, so the 40% of the swarm weight number sounds reasonable.


#17

Hi Jack, always remember that if a swarm is difficult to shake, simple place a frame of brood containing lots of young larvae up against it, on top of it, any way you can hold it there. Give it around 20 minutes, by then the queen should be on there. All you do then is gently place the frame containing the bees into a box & put the lid on. You’ll soon know if the queen is in there.

That’s what I did last week. I actually placed the frame face down onto the bees, then wedged it between branches so it didn’t fall. That worked out well.


#18

@JeffH you always have all the tricks, I may try this next time


#19

Thanks Adam, in this case it wasn’t all that high. It was out on the end of branches. I could put my ladder up against the tree trunk, then reach behind my left shoulder. Only a third of the bees came down with the frame, however bees started scent fanning at the entrance almost straight away. Anyway I broke the branch off containing the rest of the bees without dislodging them. I was worried if I did that at first, they’d take flight & go higher. I placed the branch with bees over the box & under the lid. After a little while I removed the branch, then put the lid on.

With my gentleness, I must have killed the queen, or the bees balled her because they are making emergency queens.


#20

Oh Dawn, don’t get Eva started again. You know how gets all excited about bees stings and poles.:anguished::anguished::anguished: