First swarm of the year, today. Yesterday, I heard piping of a queen. This morning, I heard it again. I thought it was a newly emerged, virgin queen who did the piping. However, the old queen must have been around as well, up until the swarming anyway.
So, piping (and killing of non-emerged queens by the virgin queen) is going on while the old queen is still around? Or was the virgin queen calling out the old queen, and the latter decided to get out of there and swarm?
Spring has been unusually hot here in the middle of France (during the day, anyway, during the night, it has been freezing, the last couple of days).
On Monday the 10th of May, this hive seemed to have started to swarm, but they did not settle anywhere and came back to the hive to form a cluster underneath the hive, near the entrance. Could have been bearding, but since they were first all out in the air buzzing around the hive and near an apple tree nearby, I very much doubt it was bearding because of the warmth.
We put the super on (containing six flow frames), since they were starting to build on top of the brood-frames, and took out two honey and pollen filled frames from the brood box, which we exchanged for frames with wax foundation.
Alas, this colony that gave us good honey last year (using the flow frames for the first time), swarmed after all. Yesterday, I heard piping of a queen. This morning, I heard it again. Then at around 13:20, I heard louder and louder bee buzzing sounds and saw that they had started to swarm. Within 5-10 minutes, they set down in a cluster in the bushes some 10 meters away from the original hive. We put them into an empty hive, put one frame with nectar/honey and pollen in it, one frame partially built-out, a couple of frames with full foundation and a couple of frames with guideline foundation strips only. This hive we placed next to the original hive.
Lots of pheromone “come here” signalling going on at the landing board of both the original and the new hive (and then some at the remaining bees in the bushes). At around 15:00h, all was pretty quiet again and there were no more bees in the bushes. Everything seemed to have gone alright. But I’m not cheering yet, I’ve lost a caught swarm before…
I’m still a bit confused about the piping activity, though…