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Swarms and dead bees


#1

Hi wise bee peeps,
Complete newbie here. I’m on the south coast of NSW, mid-summer.

Added the super onto brood box about 7-8 weeks ago. Honey was just visible in the super when the hive swarmed which at the time I was devoed about. But having recently inspected the hive I’ve concluded that it’s healthy with a good number of brood & capped honey in the super. So the swarm wasn’t necessarily a negative indicator, right?

Did the bees just get too crowded? If so, why didn’t they fill up the super instead of swarming?

It took a couple of days for the swarm to disappear but then they came back after almost a week - same swarm or another, not sure. There are now quite a few dead bees at the door and on the ground around the hive. I’m assuming these are the casualties from a bee battle and not a new problem as the hive didn’t show any signs of disease when inspected and it’s certainly not cold.

I’m not getting any response from the local Bee Keeping Assoc but I’m told that should the swarm return my best bet is to get the swarm into another brood box (which I’m about as capable of succeeding at as flying to the moon!). Is this the right advice?

Thanks in advance :).
Fleur


#2

Hi Fleur, is it possible that the swarm that you think came back, was a second swarm from your hive? That sometimes happens (a second or cast swarm).

Where is the second swarm at the moment? If it is in a small bush you can capture it very easily.


#3

Thanks for your help Dan2

It could be a second, I had no idea that the hive could do that in such a short time frame! Is this a good thing or bad thing for the current colony in the hive? Why does it happen?

The 2nd swarm has gone again now but I’ll find some reinforcements before trying to capture them if ti comes to that :).


#4

Each time a hive swarms, generally half the bees leave with about half the honey.

They can keep doing it until there is not too much left of the colony. I’ve only ever had the two swarms from a colony.

Swarms is the way that bees reproduce - they don’t see reproducing as making baby bees, but rather the colony itself needs to be reproduced.

I have found that plenty of room in the supers doesn’t make much difference to whether or not they swarm, but it seems better to give the queen some drawn but empty frames in the brood area. You can do this by taking away some of the frames that are in the brood area…it gets a bit tricky.

You could look into the brood area of your hive. You will probably find some queen cells opened up (emerged) and perhaps some yet to emerge. Someone like @Dee is good with what to do in such a situation that you have at the moment.

Mine only took a couple of days to issue the second swarm after the first.


#5

So amazing… So much to learn!

If the swarming bees are all from the original hive then whats with the dead bees?


#6
  • I don’t know about the dead ones. There could have been or could currently be some robbing going on if your hive is lowish on numbers. I have found the colony can take a bit of a hit after swarming as the new queen needs to get mated and laying, and the workforce is smaller etc. I’d go and have a look to see if there are bees fighting at the entrance of the hives and robber bees about. You might need to think about taking away the super now as there might be too much room in the hive and chalkbrood or something might get a hold.

#7

I’m in way over my head it seems…
If I harvest what’s in the super before taking it away and therefore mix the capped and uncapped honey will it just taste less sweet?


#8

Hi Fleur -

These things happen but beekeeping is sort of a collection of personal experiences really. It is hard to learn it without experiencing the issues often.

If it were my hive, and I knew it had definitely swarmed twice, I would try to ascertain how many bees and honey are left. Also, you would then need to know if there is much nectar in your area that the bees can bring back to the hive. Is it a Flow super you have on, a langstroth deep, or some other super? Perhaps the bees might need the honey that is in the super? One other thing that I would be thinking about is the virgin queen’s mating flight and whether or not that could be disturbed in some way. You can eat uncapped honey, but it doesn’t always keep. Some uncapped honey from certain eucalypts apparently can be low in water anyhow.

If you take a few photos, it helps for people on the forum to advise too…not sure if you can do that…

How much honey is in the super do you think?


#9

Yes I learn something more every day.

It’s a Flow super and there is just heaps of nectar in my area, hence the impetus to become keepers of bees.
With my lack of experience, I couldn’t say for sure that the hive has swarmed twice but it’s certainly a possibility.

Thanks soooo much for your advice, I really appreciate your time :).


#10

I’ll take some photos when I can open the hive next. Out of the 7 frames in the super there are 4 that are pretty heavy, each about half way capped.


#11

Fleur, I really am not sure about the super. I’d possibly leave it. There is a fair bit of honey in a Flow frame. Hopefully someone else might offer a suggestion or two -and hopefully someone with hives closer to where you are.


#12

Fleur,

Been in over my head since I started beekeeping back in the 1950’s n 60’s … Got back aboard in 2015. Each day, week, month n season is new n learning event but the puzzle starts making sense soon. The “Girls” are always tossing me a new variable.

There are few good basic books out there. Beekeeping for Dummies is a fair read … it’s doesnt have it all but the basics are great. Stay in here n don’t panic … get your Bee Legs n keep on keeping on. I’ve had a few looses to mites (which you folks don’t have Down Under ! Be glad of that one. Yellow jackets killed off two or three of my hives. That sucked so just winterized those n ordered new Nucs for this Spring 2018 up here Stateside.

I have been lucky n found a good Bee Mentor n few of us locals share thots n ideas locally via internet or phone all the time.

Like you … I’ve lost bees :honeybee: with swarming but this last season seemed to get that one under control with no losses ! Knock on wood this coming season. It’s always a fun experience n challenge but that’s what anything worthwhile worthy of my time.

Just don’t get discouraged ! Learn from the good, not so good n bad then move on n don’t panic. Have a cup of coffee :coffee:️ (or whatever your brew) … I enjoy sitting near the hives n learning their cycles, sounds, habits, etc. it’s relaxing too.

Anyway … good luck :four_leaf_clover: n cheers,
Gerald