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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 19th year of beekeeping in April 2024. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here.Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Swarm at Tom's - Two Cat Size

Yesterday it rained in Atlanta and Tom texted me at about 1:30 PM when the sun was just occasionally breaking through, that the bees at his house were "going crazy."  He sent me this photo that he took of the front hive:

Sure looks like a swarm to me, but it also looks like a swarm that couldn't get the queen to come along so they are out and ready but needing her to join them.

I told him they might not swarm until tomorrow but they would keep trying to get the queen.  Later he reported that he came home to find the bees gone - definitely they had swarmed and left.  He didn't see them anywhere.  Later that day he saw them up in a large pine tree on the edge of his property.

As I drove up to N Georgia, he said the hive was going crazy again.  Bees were everywhere and appeared to be gathering on a tree at about chest height.  I told him I would get Jeff and come to his house at 4:30 as I drove back into Atlanta.

Jeff was already there when I arrived and they were discussing that the bees were no longer in the pine tree and the group consensus was that the bees had moved from the pine tree to the shrub on which they now hung.  It was a HUGE swarm - about the size of two cats and gathered around a branch that hung down.

We spread a sheet under it and put a nuc box (looked really inadequate but that's what I had) on the sheet under the swarm.  We had brought the huge water cooler swarm catcher bottle.  Jeff climbed a ladder and although I was going to hold the bottle, it worked better for him to do it, so he was really the swarm catcher par excellence.  

Jeff shook the branch and the swarm dropped into the nuc box.  We then had to shake the tree a couple more times.  I set the box onto the sheet again (one shake was directly into the box), and the bees began doing the nasonov butts in the air to let the other bees know the queen was in the box.  We put the nuc top on catty-corner, leaving openings for the bees to join Her Majesty and worked the other hive.  There were layers and layers of bees in this box.

Because this hive had swarmed, we wanted to make a split from the back hive.  The second hive was full of queen cells.  We took a couple of frames with good queen cells on them to make the nuc.  The hive was left with at least seven other queen cells that we saw.  It too was preparing to swarm.  

We have not been able to do good swarm control (ie, checkerboarding) because this hive was in a deep and a medium.  As a result you can't move frames in the checkerboard pattern because a deep frame can't move into a medium box.  We had given these bees all kinds of room but you can't argue with the Darwinian imperative to split and survive!  So we did our own split on the second hive.  They may still swarm.  I don't think they have already because we found a frame of eggs, indicating that the queen was probably laying today.  

We made our nuc (in a deep box) up of both deep and medium frames.  At worse they will make drone comb off of the bottom of the medium frames.  But one of the queen cells we took was on a deep.  

I'll cover installation in the next post.  You can see the capped queen cell near the rubber band and another queen cup with larva in it to the upper right.

1 comment:

  1. That is one pretty swarm, Linda, and a lovely queen cell in the last photo. We are just on the very leading edge of swarm season here in the Pacific Northwest, but big hives get ideas early, so I am checking my boomers over the next few days of good weather. In our locale, even a smallish nuc, if it has a good queen and supportive beekeeper, can hit the honey flow with a good forager force.


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