New Package Swarmed

Looking for any pointers in recapturing my colony. Package was installed on May 2nd and a 6 day inspection revealed the queen was released. The colony just swarmed now after roughly 10 days in the hive.

Did the colony swarm, or abscond. I guess it must have absconded, because there wasn’t enough time for the colony to build enough brood before building swarm cells.

A good way to stop a colony from absconding is to give it plenty of open brood to look after.

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That stinks Jared…can you see the cluster? If so is it reachable? And do you have anyone local to call on for help plus a frame of open brood to spare from one of their hives? As Jeff says, the bees will stick with open brood so it’s an excellent way to coax a swarm cluster into a box. I’ve done this a few times by rigging up a brood box with frames plus the one of open brood on top of a ladder, or hanging from a branch, right next to the cluster - they smell it and march right in.

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This is interesting re package bees. Since there isn’t much keeping them in the box, such as brood and food, are there any tricks package bees use to keep the colony there? Or do people generally have no issue with this?

@Michael_Bush - if you’re around, I bet you would have an answer to this.

Like @JeffH said, open brood, if available, will hold the package bees until their new queen is released and starts laying.

Drawn brood comb also helps if it is disease/pest free. Maybe because it gives the bees something to do or maybe because it smells like brood?

But what about beginner beekeepers just starting that don’t have such resources?

Hi Bianca, I think the best advice for a beginner is to join a bee club & find a mentor, even before their Flow hive arrives. That would be assuming one is in the area.

When we think about it, if a colony doesn’t hike a hive for some reason, what better time to abscond, when there’s no brood to leave behind?

It would be interesting to find out what’s the success rate of a package of bees, compared to a nuc.

I think from memory, people have asked the question on this forum what to buy, a package or a nuc.

Some people use a single drop of lemongrass oil - @Michael_Bush kneads it into a small ball of wax on the Flow package bee video.

I would also put a syrup feeder in the hive, and half or quarter of a pollen substitute patty. They are less likely to abscond if there is food to keep them at home.

I have heard of people putting a queen excluder underneath the brood box, until there is evidence of a good amount of brood. That way the queen stays in the box and usually the bees will not abscond without her. Not sure that I would do that, but I guess it wouldn’t hurt much for a couple of weeks.

As @JeffH says, the ideal thing would be to find a mentor. They could at least offer a frame of brood, or a frame of old brood comb. For beginners, I would recommend a nucleus for their first hive. After that, they will have comb that they can put into any future hives with a package.

I have never had a package abscond, but I have definitely heard of it happening to plenty of other people. I was always using drawn comb, plus food when I set up colonies from packages though, so maybe that is why they decided to stay. :blush:

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With a package bees I assume they come with a mated queen, best thing to do is put a queen excluder under the brood box, It is less likely the bees would leave a mated queen.

I normally recommend people to start with Nucleus colony.

When I catch a swarm i usually trap the queen in a cage allowing the bees to mingle with the queen, they usually settle once they have built comb. Early this year I caught a swarm and put this in a Nuc box with a queen excluder, the bees tried to abscond the hive but since the queen could not leave they had no choice. They then settle down after a week and we moved this into a normal hive.

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Sorry to hear about your bees absconding. You have great advice from the others on how to prevent a reoccurrence. Hope you’re able to recover them!

Usually it’s not a problem but sometimes they don’t want to stay. I have never mixed lemongrass oil with beeswax but that would work fine. If I see that they don’t seem to be settling in I put four drops of lemongrass oil inside. That is assuming I don’t have other resources. As Jeff said, a frame of open brood is probably best. Old comb is probably next. Sometimes if you direct release the queen flies out and a clump of bees forms wherever she lands. Basically a package is a swarm. Bees are not as attracted to new wood as old wood so an old box works better. You use the resources you have. But usually this is not necessary. Usually they find your hive a decent enough space to stay in.

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OK, so this is fake news? :rofl: Time point 5:24 to 7:40…

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They absconded. I think I counted all of 2 stragglers in the hive. I watched them cluster on a low branch nearby but had to run out for about an hour. Unfortunately they were gone by the time I got back.

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Hi Jared, I’m sorry to hear that. Sometimes bees have a mind of their own. They may not have stayed put even if you caught them, unless you were able to cage the queen. During that 10 day period in your hive, the scouts may have went searching for a new location, so obviously they found one that they liked better & were able to lure the colony away from your hive.

I guess after reading the contents of this thread, you’ll be in the market for a nuc.

cheers

PS, I sell nucs on a byo brood box basis. I have put nucs into boxes with a very fresh smell of paint, which I wouldn’t do for myself. Obviously the bees didn’t abscond the fresh smell of paint. However I wouldn’t mind betting it would be a different story if I had installed a package of bees

Yes I’m picking up a mic next Saturday so hopefully I’ll have some better luck with that.

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I guess I did that time, but as I said I just happened to have a piece of wax so I rubbed the lemongrass oil with it. I don’t remember doing it…

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Great insight, thanks Dawn.

Yes, I can’t be a stronger advocate for having a local mentor as a beginner (that is experienced and aligned with their approach to beekeeping). Transporting a frame of brood would be risky I imagine.

@Paras - In my experience, I’ve noticed swarm colonies that I’ve caught abscond when I’ve placed them in a nuc (rather than a brood box). Perhaps because before they’ve made any investments in this hive (eggs/food) they’ve made the call that the cavity’s not big enough for them longterm and take off in search for better options.

I have one Nuc boxes where I can change the entrance to restrict the queen to come out. I did that on a prime swarm and the bees wanted to move on but had no choice after a week it settled down, 2 weeks after that I moved the colony to a hive. They usually build fast and soon the space would be too small in a Nuc.

However a secondary swarm usually find that the Nuc box is good size for them.



This was 2 small swarms I captured and had only one box, I have the two queens caged in the clips, both swarms came out form the same parent colony. own its own the colony was too small, but together it makes a good nucleus colony.

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