Re: [Beekeeping] Swarm question: endless bounty!
- You have to remember the purpose behind the swarming instinct with bees. This is the way for bees to generate new colonies to assure the survival of the bee species.When you notice swarm cells in your hives,you will notice there is seldom just one.What happens is one large ( main ) swarm will leave the hive.As the queen cells start hatching you may get several after swarms led by virgin queens.I'm not sure how this is determined but it seems to be predetermined by the strength of the hive before the main swarm leaves.As I have mentioned before,despite our best efforts sometimes the bees make up their mind to swarm and they just go ahead.I have caught as many as three swarms that I am sure came from the same hive.Sure doesn't leave many bees in the original hive to make honey.Most people that catch the after swarms that are really small combine them into one colony using the double screen method because the smaller swarms don't usually have sufficient time to increase in size to carry them through winter.If you combine the small swarms they just fair out better.I like to leave even the small swarms separate over a double screen for a while because they are in the comb building mode after they swarm.They will build you more comb in a shorter time than any other time through out the season.This is very important to provide the queen with adequate room to get brood going to build up the numbers to get the colony ready for fall and winter.This is the reason that it seems to take forever for a new package to build comb but it seems that a swarm will fill out a box in just a few days.What we as bee keepers try to do when we buy a package of bees is to create an artificial swarm .That is all well and good but because' we' decide when to do this artificial swarm and the bees aren't consulted.They aren't the proper mode and aren't prepared for the transition .Down in Georgia or Alabama they ( the bees )were involved with normal hive maintenance and making ready for their main nectar flow and all of a sudden they are taken from their work,dumped into a box with a strange worker bees and a strange queen, shipped a thousand miles and expected to automatically go into comb building as if they had just swarmed.Can you see a reason for the delay in comb building from a new package?Perhaps we could ask the package suppliers to hang order lists in their hives a little earlier to let the bees know what is going to happen.That way the bees would be better prepared when we get them.
With the way we interrupt ,bother ,and manipulate bees it is just a miracle be get the results we do get.They are truly a remarkable and adaptable species.
From: Kelly Savino <primalmommy@...>
Sent: Sunday, May 31, 2009 8:43:36 PM
Subject: [Beekeeping] Swarm question: endless bounty!
I've told the first part of this story already: last week I left my name with the local critter control people and the next day, got a call from a man with a big swarn in his tree. I had never done it before but I went with a cardboard box and some duct tape, and got a nice fat swarm -- maybe seven pounds, judging by comparison to packages I've ordered.
I got them home and into my empty hive, and as of this morning the queen is laying like crazy and everything looks good.
Two days ago, the same man called me AGAIN - another swarm, cantelope sized, was in a bush in his yard. Back I went, got that swarm, and came home to cobble together a couple of shallow supers, build a quick bottom board, and now I have THREE hives in my yard.
Today, he called me again: a THIRD swarm! This was in another bush, and smaller (nerf football size?) and I boxed it up. It's going to a friend who is headed out tomorrow to buy a hive.
There is a big old maple tree in his yard with a hole way up in the trunk, bees coming and going. Is it normal for a hoeny tree to kick out THREE swarms? How else could all these bees be ending up in his yard? Are the queens likely to be mated? Do I need to be careful about setting the hives too close to each other, lest bees get confused and enter the wrong hive?
I'm loving this swarm thing... so far, so good!
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