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Author Topic: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.  (Read 2454 times)

Offline Sagan

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New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« on: January 09, 2019, 05:14:32 am »
Good evening everyone!

I've been beekeeping for about 3 years now and have a few hives. Late November I purchased a nuc that was fully drawn out on all 5 frames and was very full. I let them settle for a week or so and then moved them into a larger 8-frame box.

Weather wasn't great after that but I managed to check up on them around mid to late December. They had drawn comb on all the frames and were filling them up fairly quickly (even up into the lid) so I cleaned up the comb and chucked another box on them to give them some room to move up.

I checked on them just before Christmas and didn't see a lot of movement in the top box, but it was absolutely packed down below so I let them be.

Fast forward to Sunday I get home from being out to see hundreds of bees swarming up in the tree just above the hive with a massive cluster just hanging up there. I opened the hive up and there was nothing left in there, barely a bee in sight. Just a few wandering around the old comb, no sign of a queen; nor could I see any queen cells. Also not a single bit of drawn comb in the top box either.

I took the swarm down, put them back into the hive and provided them with some sugar water. My assumption being that they had stopped building comb because nectar may have dried up in the area.

Well Monday afternoon comes, I get home from work to once again the swarm up in the tree. They took the sugar water with them it seems as well because it was mostly all gone. Same deal on Tuesday, and today they are swarming again above the hive They just will not stay put.

I'm at a loss as to what to do now. I've never dealt with any of my hives swarming before, I split them to prevent it. But this is a new colony. I didn't even think they had the numbers to swarm at this point. I've considered putting the swarm back into the hive, closing it up and moving it to another location entirely. Good idea, bad idea?



Offline eltalia

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2019, 06:00:10 am »
G'day,
This is reading more as an abscond happening rather than a swarm as such.
You're lucky in that they 'roosting' nearby as usually they ping off as soon as
the queen flys.
You can force them to stay in fitting a queen restrictor - some examples attached.
4.5mm is the magic number for the gap. Be aware you may well hear the queen
screeching in frustration from time to time.
Absconds are often the results of environmental change within the hivebody.
Have a look around for the obvious, mold/pests/ventilation.

Cheers.

Bill

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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2019, 06:56:10 am »
Welcome to Beemaster.
What eltalia said plus you might want to put them in a new hive with no drawn comb in a new location. Take a good look at the comb in that hive. Take some pictures of the brood area and post them for us to look at. Try to get real clear pictures that look into the cells. If you cannot post them, send them to me and I will post them for you.
Jim

Offline Acebird

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2019, 08:51:54 am »
My line of thinking is you are fueling the flight.  Stop feeding them.  You are just making it easier for them to leave.
The frustration of a beekeeper is bees make decisions that we don't like.  To make matters worse they sometimes make these decisions far in advance of our knowledge until the bad thing happens.  Then, changing their decision is not easy once they have made it.
The only thought I have it to try to force a manufactured swarm.  Lock them up for a couple of days in a box with very little resources and a good amount of room.  Once their bellies are not full they will have to go back to foraging and drawing comb.
In the future if you find a hive that is full and they don't use a new box that you gave them you have to force them to use it or you will lose them one way or another.
Brian Cardinal
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Offline SiWolKe

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2019, 11:50:37 am »
Lock them up for 2 days and nights in a cool and dark room and provide some ventilation. Food inside is ok.
After that they are disorientated and you might place them outside again.
Good luck!

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2019, 03:49:09 pm »
Be sure to add a wet sponge to provide water.
Jim

Offline eltalia

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2019, 10:22:22 pm »
Lock them up for 2 days and nights in a cool and dark room and provide some ventilation. Food inside is ok.
After that they are disorientated and you might place them outside again.
Good luck!

 This idea is to overcome moving them as Sagan suggested?
A good portion of Australia is getting through mid 30C to 44+C temps right now.
Locking a colony down for a day (or two) even with screening would be
an excercise of probable sacrifice to the BeeGawd - airconditioned rooms aside.

Then there is the likelihood of environmental impact causing the problem in the
first place which I reckon Sagar is thinking with his suggestion to relocate.
Disorientation as you layout would only work then up until they figured out
nothing had changed, which as I know you know bees will do being pretty smart fellas.

Cheers.

Bill

Offline Sagan

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2019, 05:46:53 am »
Hey everyone, thanks for the replies.

I woke up around 4am worrying about this last night and saw the idea about locking them up. While I didn't see it as being a permanent fix, I got up and went outside to shut the gate on their entrance and dragged the hive into a shady spot for the day while I was at work (it was relatively cool in Melbourne today). At least so I didn't have to worry about them running off during the day.

I've opened the entrance up tonight as we're going to be hitting the 30's tomorrow in Melbourne. I'm using Nuplas boxes on this one (first time using them) which weigh an absolute ton. An empty box weighs almost as much as a full one. I can't lift the hive by myself to move it somewhere cooler and keep it closed so I will working from home tomorrow to keep an eye on them.

Strangely after opening up the entrance, hundreds of bees came piling out of the hive and started crawling along the ground away from the hive. Historically I know they go nuts after being locked up. But crawling along the ground away from the hive is something I've never seen before and I'm not sure if it's significant or not. As I sit writing this now I see them crawling away from on the pavement in the garage.

This is reading more as an abscond happening rather than a swarm as such.

In hindsight, yes; I believe this is what is happening as well.

You can force them to stay in fitting a queen restrictor - some examples attached.

This is an interesting idea, it's something I'm considering but if something is wrong I don't want to force them to stay here (my property, I will move them elsewhere).

Then there is the likelihood of environmental impact causing the problem in the
first place which I reckon Sagar is thinking with his suggestion to relocate.

Yes, I'm worried that something environmentally has changed which is causing this. And that no matter what I do to try and force them to stay; they likely won't. Depending how they go tomorrow, I will be opening it up again and having a very good look inside to see if I can spot any signs of something being wrong in there (disease or whatnot). I will take some photos for a second opinion.

I don't normally keep hives at my place for very long, they're usually there for a few weeks when new until I move them into a larger box. Then I take them down to the peninsula where I have the other hives sitting on some other peoples properties which are going very strong. I like having the bees around and I wanted to keep a hive in my yard. But if there's something around here that's causing them grief then they'll just have to join the others.

I did notice a number of wasps buzzing around the hive this afternoon, perhaps they've been giving them a hard time.

Offline Sagan

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2019, 07:39:02 am »
Actually perhaps all the bees crawling on the ground highlights the problem. Could be possible the colony is suffering from diseases or pesticides. I will definitely take a closer look tomorrow.

Offline SiWolKe

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2019, 11:50:59 am »
I?ve seen it once like that.
It was a hive poisoned by formic acid, but not a swarm. The beekeepers had used liquid formic acid on a towel and the bottle was placed in the sun before he started. Probably used too much too.

I wonder if there is a queen?

Strange. Please update.


Offline CoolBees

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2019, 02:02:46 pm »
My friend had a swarm that wouldn't stay in the hive. It kept flying up into a tree on his neighbors property and staying the night there. (He's in the city). The next day they'd move back into the hive and stay for 3 or 4 days, then do it again, and again. He gave up worrying about it, and finally they quit doing it. That was 3 yrs ago. He still has that hive of bees today.

Nothing wrong with his equipment. He uses NO treatments. ... I'm sure the bees had a reason. Maybe forcing a brood break of their own? Who knows.
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Offline eltalia

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2019, 10:17:11 pm »
Actually perhaps all the bees crawling on the ground highlights the problem. Could be
possible the colony is suffering from diseases or pesticides. I will definitely take a closer
look tomorrow.

That behaviour smacks of core body temp beyond endurance.
Where they look a tad bedraggled - wings down, slightly 'shiny' - it is respiratory heat
extremes in a box, not good juju...at all.

Cheers.

Bill

Offline Sagan

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2019, 11:18:07 pm »
Alright I opened them up today and had a real thorough look through it. I have no queen and no eggs. A few new emergents were starting to poke their heads out but that's it.

There are multiple queen cells tucked down the side of one frame, dunno how I missed it the other day. There are about 4 of them, three of them are opened and the queens are gone. There's plenty of honey, but that's all there is. I don't believe they have swarmed at all this summer. I've been home every day and the hive is directly outside my window, I would have noticed them swarming around.

I'm not entirely sure what to do now. Not sure what happened to my original queen, or the three queens that have already hatched. I don't know why out of those three queens there is none in there. Have they died? Are they not returning to the hive after mating? I was also unable to locate a single drone.

Given that it appears the past few days that the entire hive wants to leave, it is possible that they're not having any luck rearing a new queen and are attempting to abandon the hive for greener pastures?

Offline eltalia

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2019, 12:09:25 am »
Sagar wrote in part;
"Given that it appears the past few days that the entire hive wants to leave, it is possible that they're
not having any luck rearing a new queen and are attempting to abandon the hive for greener pastures?"

Test it... may well be a virgin is either on board or the virgin in house post the swarm leaving (such
did happen, believe) was killed in mating flights.
The former is most likely, so;
1. Fit the QR.
2. Add a frame owning new eggs at or near the edge of the frame.
IF you have none fitting that format notch a half dozen located at lower extents of frame.
3. Wait two days and check for QCs started.

Where no QCs are present the colony has a queen on board, mated or not.
Remove the restrictor.
Where QCs are started leave the QR in place for 8days - the time to capping - which then allows bees to
knock off any resident dud or virgin queen without risking a caste swarm.
All good?

Cheers.

Offline Sagan

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2019, 12:43:42 am »
Yep, that sounds like a fairly reasonable plan. I'll put that into action. Than you.

Offline eltalia

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2019, 04:59:12 am »
You're welcome....when all the fluff (figurative) is cut away, together with
lowering the rating in importance of the 3Ms (might/musn't/maybe) what is
described is one fairly common post Spring scenario. Like colony going well
then suddenly loses Queenright status - as opposed to Queenless - however
assuming so is as 'dangerous' as doing nothing, so "test it" is a 'safe' path.
Nothing to lose, hey. ;-)

Cheers.

Bil

Offline Acebird

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2019, 12:36:18 pm »
In the future if you find a hive that is full and they don't use a new box that you gave them you have to force them to use it or you will lose them one way or another.

Just repeating what I said.
Quote
G'day,
This is reading more as an abscond happening rather than a swarm as such.

The presence of swarm cells rules out abscond.
Brian Cardinal
Just do it

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2019, 01:23:57 pm »
In the future if you find a hive that is full and they don't use a new box that you gave them you have to force them to use it or you will lose them one way or another.

Just repeating what I said.
Quote
G'day,
This is reading more as an abscond happening rather than a swarm as such.

The presence of swarm cells rules out abscond.
Quote from the first post
 I opened the hive up and there was nothing left in there, barely a bee in sight. Just a few wandering around the old comb, no sign of a queen; nor could I see any queen cells.

Definitely an abscond.
Jim

Offline Acebird

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2019, 01:59:34 pm »
Pretty much nails that all the information in a first post is not complete or accurate that is why other ideas are entertained.
Brian Cardinal
Just do it

Offline SiWolKe

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2019, 02:50:15 pm »
Guys, I never had bees absconding.
What makes them do it?

Offline Acebird

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2019, 03:02:34 pm »
It is like CCD, really not known.  Only the behavior is recorded.
Brian Cardinal
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Offline eltalia

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2019, 05:40:00 pm »

Guys, I never had bees absconding.
What makes them do it?

IF one accepts communal bees - or indeed "communal" anything - are aware of a Future and plan accordingly
it is sudden change which triggers flight.
Some observed triggers here (.au) are;
Extended rain period over a poorly sealed hivebody (operator error) - gone within hours of first rays of sunshine.
Greenant attack - unlike other ants here GA go on 'crusades', at _their_ communal decision. Think Viking raids
as a humanised analogy.
Livestock intrusion - shifting cattle into a paddock  holding unprotected hives can be catastrophic.
Toads - Moving a hive to set it down in new location without providing a 450mm (H) stand will see bees gone quicktime.

No doubt there are others - some whisper "spray plane" as an accusatory trigger however having run scores
 of hives in pollination tasks I myself cannot confirm spraying crops has the effect of absconds happening.
Classic sign is no uncapped brood, very little honey stores and obvious slack(remiss) housekeeping to
bottomboard (detritus) - and no QC or newly formed cups.

Cheers.

Bill

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2019, 07:20:52 pm »
Another reason I think they abscond is Africanized genetics. Bees in Africa have to get up and move when a dry spent starts and follow the food source. They do not/cannot hunker  down for a 6 to 9 month dry spell like our bees do during winter. Here in the states our bees have a lot of Africanized genetics mixed in. When the nectar stops while it is warm, they abscond.
Jim

Offline SiWolKe

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2019, 10:24:53 am »
Thanks, Bill.

Sawdstmakr,
My bees have monticola genes, hope that does not mean african absconding traits. So I have to keep them satisfied with stores.
 :wink:

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2019, 10:34:53 am »
It is the Apis mellifera scutellata that has the genetics that drive it to move when the nectar dries up.
Not sure how close the East African bee?s genetics are to the scutellata.
Jim

Offline SiWolKe

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #25 on: January 12, 2019, 11:23:48 am »

Offline eltalia

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Re: New colony swarming. Refuses to stay in hive.
« Reply #26 on: January 21, 2019, 09:21:13 am »
Yep, that sounds like a fairly reasonable plan. I'll put that into action. Than you.

Any new doings?

Cheers.

Bill