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Scouting for a new home


#1

So with a flow in full swing here in Perth the colonys are reaching bursting point which if the last flow in November was anything to go by, swarm time…
Last weekend I did inspections on the two colonys out back and although no swarm signs I added a second bos, a WSP ala @Dawn_SD beneath the existing BB. . Although it’s standard practice to use only 1 BB here I’ve seen reasoning to adding more room with an 8 frame box.
Cutting to the chase, I was rebuilding the chook gate and whilst I the shed quenching my thirst I became aware of a number of bees having a nosey around the beekeeping area. As the day progressed more and more (hundreds) started flying into the shed and entering both an empty nuc box and empty 8 frame box.


Outside the shed I have another empty box which was there as a bit of a swarm trap. It has 3 frames in it.

By the end of the day the bees had left the shed (thankfully) and were flying in and out of the box outside.
I’m thinking they were scouts as there is no food for them in these boxes and as discussed in Seeleys book, The Honeybee Democracy, they seemed to be choosing a site, first the nuc then the blue box and finally the box outside the shed. Fascinating to watch and will be really interesting to see what happens tomorrow.
Oh and I did finish the chook gate…


#2

Fascinating @skeggley! Please keep posting about what happened. I love seeing bees make decisions, and that book by Thomas Seeley is superb. :heart_eyes:


#3

Interesting, I inspected my hives Monday and found swarm cells in 3 out of 3 established hives. A 8 frames double deep I removed 4 frames from to make a split with a new queen even had 2 uncapped cells on the bottom of a frame in the bottom box less than 10 days later.
Something has set them down the swarming path, have thrown another box on them and put out some swarm traps, Will inspect again today, if they have capped the queen cell I may split them again or let them go and see if they move into one of the swarm traps.


#4

Hiya 220, not sure what part of the country you are at but last spring, just as a flow was coming on, one of my colonies swarmed. It was the strongest and I noticed drones in and out the hive in numbers. It was also a cut out from last summer and I’ve pencilled it down as a swarmy colony… This was the main reason for doing checks last weekend. I did not do a full inspection, I checked beneath the hive when I added the box and about 3 frames in from the side and as all appeared normal I closed up and moved on to the next box. I only do full inspections now if I find something amiss. Perhaps if I had dug deeper I may have found some qc’s. I was of the understanding that generally swarm cells are on the bottom of the frames and in numbers.
I reckon, during an inspection, I rolled a queen in one of my bought, high quality queen hives so, as we don’t have shb or varroa generally leave them be bees.

I have not seen a scout pack befor, or not noticed, but didn’t think they were in the numbers witnessed.
See how today goes.


#5

Southern NSW, we went from record temps to nights below 5c last weekend not sure if it has something to do with it.
I have been waiting for the Euc flow to start but seems to be very slow, maybe the swarm prep is a sign it is just about to kick off. I have had drones present in all the established hives right through summer will have to look closer and see how actively they are flying.


#6

Maybe our location has something to do with it.
In Spring we have a lot of wattles supplying heaps of pollen but no nectar.
Early Summer the Jarrah trees have good nectar supply’s but this year, around lower South West anyway, the Jarrah flowering was a flop. So there has been little food till this huge flow from the Marri and we are approaching Autumn fast. Maybe the swarm “itch” has hit them and they are trying to scratch it.


#7

Yep jarrah was a flop this year and I’ve been told marri is shy on nectar.
On the up side most of the eucalypts around here are beginning a second bloom this year as I have mentioned in the past, and strangely the jarrah trees are budding up now… Weird but… Woohoo! Maybe we will get to taste some home honey this year after all. Having said that if it is one of my colonys about to swarm it will set them back… Again…


#8

Well the bees were too slow so I’ve had to shut up the shed as work beckons, I copped a sting on the forehead too so Ive evicted them, no more mr nice guy…
There were many more in there yesterday too and it seemed their preference was the 4 frame nuc and the cupboard below the equipment…
I’ve moved the two boxes outside beside the other so hopefully they will use one of them. If they are smart enough to get into the shed I’ve cut an entrance in couple of cardboard boxes and placed them in the old location.

I find it interesting that they are scouting an area, if indeed they are scouts, before swarming. Perhaps there is a swarm hanging from a branch somewhere near I’ve not seen? All the hives here haven’t lost numbers which is why I was thinking they were scouting pre swarm. There are many feral colonys around here in trees and only one beek down the road (that I know of.).
Only time will tell I guess.


#9

Tree colony it is. :slight_smile:

Could have made it easier…


#10

Wow, what a lot of flying bees! Thanks for the update. I hope they aren’t yours - you did say that there are some feral colonies around. I am fascinated that bees swarm so late in Australia. They don’t do that here in California (much), but maybe it is because the season is so dry at that time of year - the nectar dearth in late summer would be the end of such a swarm.


#11

Hiya Dawn, it’s the colony in my profile pic.
Time to have some fun.


#12

Done, although not so easy with one eye closed due to yesterday’s sting…

I used a frame of brood from the pot colony to try and keep them in the hive and an hour later it looks successful. Cut some drone brood off the frame which is what is on top.

Now I have no more complete hives and am one hive over council regulations. Fortunately I don’t care for the council. :slight_smile: But now I’ll need more Flow frames.
Next discounted frames Flow? :wink:
Glad I took the day off work!
How long should I leave them in situ?
And, where to put them?

Edit; incidentally i have a video of when I believe they may have last swarmed dated 2nd Feb 2013.


#13

Just a quick update on this thread.
The bees have settled in well, a few ant troubles however a quick meal of jam and borax seemed to do the trick. The last swarm I caught last summer was a small after swarm one and it absconded during an autumn dearth so hopefully this one stays put.
This weekends task is to build another hive stand out of bits and bobs laying around the yard, big enough to seat 2 hives with a gap in the middle for resting boxes during inspections and finding a location for it. It will be a hot weekend with temps around the 40°c mark.
I also need to purchase another complete hive as my spare ain’t no more. From having a pile of boxes stacked to the roof in the shed a couple of months age to having only 1 fd super left in stock is a bit of a surprise for me but probably not for a lot of you beeks out there…