Honeyflow.com | FAQ's | Community |

Should I just let my swarm go?


#1

So I have 2 hives and really don’t want/need anymore. Today I returned home and I’ve got a large swarm hanging under my kids trampoline (swarm was in exact spot last year) and another swarm in my neighbours tree (thank god it wasn’t the other neighbour very unhappy about the fact I have beehives) up really high about 20 mts away. I was happy to let the swarm go that was high in the tree but I have just captured the swarm from under the trampoline but am now not sure which way to go.
Is it totally out of the question to try and re-introduce them back into one of my two hives (not sure which one they came from) or do I need to house them in a totally new hive? If they can’t go back into one of my hives should I ask one of the local beekeepers if they want them?
Should I have just let the swarm be and let them naturally find themselves a new home?
Any help much appreciated.
Dale


#2

Hi Dale - I’m not sure if you are in Australia? I’m sure someone would love to have/buy the one you have captured.


#3

I think it is important for urban keepers to manage swarming so that they don’t become unwelcome problems for others. I’m sure someone local would want them once they have established themselves (proven queen, eggs, larvae, capped brood and stores) in 2-4 weeks.

If you inspect ever two weeks you can do some proactive preventative swarm management. Dawn has shared the WBKA article a lot on this forum, I found it really useful in getting my head in the right space.

http://www.wbka.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Simple-methods-of-making-Increase-Final-reduced1.pdf

Adam


#4

Currently, I also keep hearing about swarms that got away from new beeks.
I find it irresponsible to not even try swarm prevention. Where I live, next to a National Park, there are feral hives in trees that can harbor anything, including AFB that was found in my neighbourhood. If they robbed the AFB hive, then we may never get rid of AFB here, no matter what we do.
Yes, if they caught AFB they will die out, but then my bees come and rob the remnants. It’s just a vicious circle.
If we find a feral hive, we either have to try a cut out or just kill them and burn the tree. We don’t want to do any of that.
I reckon if beekeepers don’t do anything to prevent swarming, they should get fined.
It’s getting ridiculous with all these new wannabe beekeepers who just wait for honey and don’t care about looking after their bees.

It’s easy enough to split a colony and if you don’t want it, sure plenty of others will. And you can charge $100 at least.
It’s spring and your bees will expand and swarm. Get splitting!


#5

Is that a state law about destroying feral hives?

Our best hive came from a feral hive in one of our trees that has been around for at least 7 years. I wouldn’t dream of killing them.

Having said that, we do have a large number of feral hives in the neighbourhood and I guess it just takes one to get AFB and then we are in trouble…

Cheers,

Julia


#6

Never a truer word spoken
It happens with all types of hives not just the Flow. Bees are livestock and while I am dead against licensing beekeepers there should be some way that anybody taking the art up should at least get the basics sorted.
Hives kept near neighbours should have their queens wings clipped for a start. While that doesn’t prevent swarming it gives the beekeeper a chance to do something about it
Why oh why are some people not even bothering with routine inspections?


#7

I am far from an expert, but have read that this is possible - creates one super hive. I have managed it once. I, too, am trying to keep my apiary small with controlled genetics (most drones in my area are AHB). Down-side is it is probably going to want to swarm again before the season is over.


#8

They will just make queen cells again.
What you can do is put the swarm in a new hive and put that in the place of the hive that swarmed. All the flyers that are left will go back there. That way you will save your honey crop.
The severely depleted original colony can be left to re-queen without any queen cell thinning and sold on.


#9

You could start another hive and pick the best queen over the season. I autumn you then squish the weaker queen and do a newspaper combine. Go into winter with a very strong hive that way. Or you could simply onsell the one you don’t want.

Cheers
Rob.


#10

Hi Julia. It’s not law in NSW. I spoke to DPI when we got AFB around here and that hive got robbed. They don’t take any action any more and leave it to us.
Apparently DPI used to remove or kill feral colonies to prevent AFB spread, but they gave up a while back. It got out of hand.
I suppose once we have another varroa scare they will come back into action.

A commercial beekeeper recently caught a swarm and found AFB in the hive only 3 weeks later. Something to keep in mind and keep unknown swarms quarantined for a while.


#11

I think generally there is a lack of awareness about swarming for those new to beekeeping. The question then arises as to who is at fault for this situation? I am sure that most inexperienced people wanting a backyard hive do not appreciate that the colony - if it is doing ok - will try to swarm every year. If you are talking to someone who wants a backyard hive and you tell them this emphatically, they often rapidly loose interest. It might even seem incredulous to those with experience that there is this sort of lack of knowledge, but it is not limited to beekeeping of course. We just can’t know that much about everything all of the time and undertake many things which we wouldn’t do in hindsight and with more knowledge. One needs to then consider where that swarm/s might go…the thought of it moving into a impecunious older persons house/chimney is one that ought to make everyone take stock.

To remedy the situation, it is important for those with the knowledge of the swarming impulse, to pass that knowledge on - that is what many of us are doing on this forum of course. Any chance we get, pass the information on emphatically. Reducing the swarming impulse is quite a bit of work - much harder of course for those with little experience because they are less adept at manipulating the frames etc. To be frank, as there are many options on how to do it, it can be really confusing and complicated for those people too.


#12

Hi Dale, having read some of the replies, it appears that most of what I wanted to say has already been said.

There are beekeepers out there who want to keep bees as natural as possible. Letting their bees swarm is all part of that. However, you did mention one neighbor who is unhappy about the bees. The last thing you would want is for a swarm to move into the wall cavity of his/her house. Or anywhere else on their property that would cause an upset, or any other property for that matter including your own.

When neighbors are involved, it’s prudent to manage our bees as best we can in order to prevent swarming. We have a duty of care.


#13

I’m located in country Victoria.
This morning I will go and purchase some extra equipment to house the larger swarm I caught. I will let it get established and then either sell it or perhaps keep it. Next year I will do splits. I had been doing inspections every week to week and a half removing any swarm cells. I’m also hoping to relocate my hives to the edge of town where family has nice 5 acre plot which still gives the girls access to the plethora of nectar and pollen that an urban environment offers.
In regards to the smaller swarm that was up high in my nice neighbours tree, I would be interested to know how others deal with swarms that are outside their reach of their ladders or tree climbing ability.

Something I feel I must address is the sense of hostility I have felt that has been delivered by some respondents. I am now into my second spring and up until this point have been learning as much as I can and had been doing hive maintenance to the best of my ability. I certainly didn’t want my bees to swarm. I came to this forum for advice and that it what the vast majority has given me and I thank them very much for that but the last thing I expected was for someone to use this thread as a vehicle to voice their unfavourable attitudes towards new beekeepers. One must remember that a person doesn’t just wake up overnight being an expert on all things bee related and that everyone was once a ‘new wannabe beekeeper’. I do look forward to the day when I’m a real beekeeper that never loses a swarm.
Thanks to everyone with their recommendations and contributions.
Dale


#14

Hi Jeff,
Thanks for your reply. I have had a good think about my neighbour next door (my other neighbours loves having the bees around and is always interested) and I think its going to be best if I moved my hives. I know what my entitlements are for having hives in town but I do also recognise my responsibility to fostering a happy neighbourhood.


#16

Hi Dan,
I’m in country Victoria. If I was to pass them on to someone…should I set them up in a new hive, let them get established and then sell them?


#17

Yes for sure Dale. I only keep nucs at my place. Hopefully none of them swarm on me. Last year the bee boxes & possibly the bees in general attracted two swarms. A close examination confirmed that they definitely weren’t out of my hives.

What I did notice after the second swarm landed was the two rear neighbors talking over the fence. That was the first & last time I ever saw that. I wanted to go around & tell them both that they weren’t my bees. Would they believe me? No, probably not.

I recently lost a swarm out of a nuc that was making a new queen in another residential area. That was unexpected. So no matter how hard we try to prevent it, there will always be an exception. The nuc size colony was in a 10 frame super, so space wasn’t an issue


#18

Hi Dale. It certainly wasn’t meant to upset you personally. Asking advice is the thing to do, and that you did.
I have merely shared with you the feelings I had in those sleepless nights when AFB was discovered here and we could do nothing to prevent its spread via feral hives. And now some neighboring new beekeepers let their bees swarm and care not.
I am new myself and my bees give me great joy. I really don’t want to lose them to AFB. Did you know the flow frames can only get irradiated twice? If you have several flow hives, an AFB outbreak can be very costly on top of the upset of having to kill your bees.
You can do all the right things, but feral colonies are out of our control.
As Jeff said, natural beekeeping promotes letting your bees swarm. I would promote it too in a world without AFB.
We can’t always prevent swarming, and if it happens, we can’t always catch the swarm. But we can try.
Another thing: if you wanted to become certified organic, irradiation is not allowed, nor are marking queens or clipping wings.
Knock hive wood, so far I have not found AFB in my own hives. But it is likely that the spore count is up.
Once you have it nearby you have reason to worry. We still don’t know the source of the neighbour’s advanced AFB, nor do we know the robbers. And we have strong feral colonies around here.
Unfortunately there are new beekeepers who don’t seek education like you do. In other countries they get sorted by varroa long before AFB.


#19

Hi Dale, -trying to put myself in your position, I would put the swarm in a standard bee box with wax foundation frames, wait a while till it is established and all ok and then sell it. I would probably try and do something crazy with the swarm up the tree - I’d probably try and capture it by hoisting a box up the tree with some brood in it, but it would depend on a whole lot of things. Things like how high it is and whether it is above your land. Also, how big and strong and accessible is the tree? I’m wondering if you have any photos of it?

edit; I see you say it is up really high…might be too high?


#20

@dale182

  • the other thing about waiting a while is that it gives you a chance to see if the hive that the swarms came from, ends up with a mated and laying queen. Sometimes they leave themselves with no laying queen after swarming. There is a reasonable chance that what you have is a prime swarm under the trampoline and a cast swarm (high up in the tree) that followed the prime swarm. Those afterswarms are smaller generally, and go further away and higher up then the prime swarm. I suppose if both swarms are from the one hive, I’d probably split the other hive now (presuming you can work out which one it is) and so you will end up with 4 hives. You can stack them on top of each other so it looks like you have just 2 hives. You can combine hives later on, after the summer solstice or even later.

#21

Hi Dale, for what it’s worth, I think that if you go to the trouble of acquiring another box & frames, I think you’d be better off to keep it & use it as a kind of training hive. Use it to get practice at handling frames, reading the brood, all that sort of thing. You never know, down the track, one of your hives could get into trouble, you might need a frame or two of brood. It’s much easier to get a frame of brood from a single box colony than a double box colony. Also in using it as a training colony, the same thing applies.