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Author Topic: Unmotivated swarm  (Read 720 times)

Offline Leoj900

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Unmotivated swarm
« on: April 01, 2020, 03:30:18 pm »
It has been six days since I installed a swarm into my hive box. So far, I have only seen one or two bees out and about at a time. I thought that maybe they were just busy making comb, but when I inspected the hive, it looked like they were still bundled together as a swarm. Is there a chance that they are still out searching for a home and not settling in yet? Should I be doing anything, or just waiting for them to give up and start building comb here?

Offline iddee

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2020, 04:42:01 pm »
Sounds like they may be queenless. Do you have another hive you could give them a frame of eggs from?
"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me . . . Anything can happen, child. Anything can be"

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Offline Leoj900

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2020, 05:11:58 pm »
I do not. I found the queen when I first caught the swarm, but I could not locate her once I had transported the swarm to the new location. They did collect back together and act like there was a queen in their midst.

Offline Leoj900

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2020, 06:10:33 pm »
I just opened up the hive and the bees looked so pitiful. They seemed super sluggish and nobody was flying. I put in a boardman feeder and next thing I know, the bees are moving around and cleaning up the dead bees and flying around. It was as if they were starving to death despite being right next to a fully blooming tree and vast quantities of nectar all around. My biggest hope is that they just were helpless and not willing to forage. I hate being a brand new beekeeper and having so many doubts!

Offline van from Arkansas

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2020, 06:48:07 pm »
Leo, you nail it: starving.  Bees need energy to forage.  Feed 2X sugar syrup that is:
two 4 pounds of sugar to 1/2 gallon of water OR 1 quart water to 4 pounds of sugar.

Health to your bees.

Van
I have been around bees a long time, since birth.  I am a hobbyist so my answers often reflect this fact.  I concentrate on genetics, raise my own queens by wet graft, nicot, with natural or II breeding.  I do not sell queens, I will give queens  for free but no shipping.

Offline Leoj900

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2020, 07:04:53 pm »
I love seeing them happily buzzing around now and just wolf down the syrup! It makes no sense to me that they would starve though. I collected them the day that they swarmed and they had full bellies of honey. Is it because they were too small a swarm to afford foragers? I cannot imagine a swarm surviving in the wild if this were the case.
My level of happiness just flew way up seeing them come back to life. I would be happy if they absconded now in comparison to opening up the hive to find staved bees.

Offline Bob Wilson

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2020, 06:57:32 am »
Leo. Where are you in Georgia? I am in Thomaston.Is there a bee association near you?
And by the way... Welcome to the forum. Glad the have you here.

Offline Leoj900

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2020, 08:16:40 am »
I spent 8 years down in Columbus (which is closer to Thomaston).  Right now I am up in Augusta, Ga. We have been going to the association in Aiken, SC.

Offline Acebird

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2020, 08:50:35 am »
Doesn't make sense to me.  Sounds like a queenless hive where all the foragers are gone.  How many bees left in this swarm?
Brian Cardinal
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Offline Leoj900

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2020, 09:07:29 am »
It does not really make sense to me either. We will see whether they proceed to build comb and brood or just die off. They are acting like all is well with the world now though.

Offline Leoj900

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2020, 01:04:11 pm »
An update to the swarm. Since putting in the 1:1 sugar water, the bees have been non-stop consuming it. Yesterday there was a huge amount of activity outside of the hive as the bees were all doing orientation flights. Today they are as active as ever and it is weird to think that two days ago they were about to starve to death. So it is really pointing towards my bees just being stupid teenagers who would rather starve than try to fend for themselves.

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2020, 08:28:17 pm »
Leo,
Welcome to Beemaster.
Bee careful with the boardman feeder. If you use it during a dearth it will cause robbing and the robbers will try to kill the queen.
Jim Altmiller

Offline Leoj900

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2020, 08:33:32 pm »
Thank you for the welcome. This is my only hive and so far the only competition has been some solitary digger bees that are promptly chased off.

Offline FloridaGardener

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2020, 12:20:22 am »
Robbing is a shock so be prepared.  It can kill a new colony in a few hours. A dearth can happen for several days even in spring.  Know where your entrance reducer is.  Better yet, get a robbing screen, you can always keep it on with 3 gates open, and close the gates when trouble starts.

If you are going foundationless, peek in the lid to make sure the comb is straight and your frames are pressed together tightly.  The new comb will be like warm marshmallows in this heat, so be careful if you have to straighten something.  If you gave them frames with foundation, that's easier, and then I'd leave them alone for a couple of weeks.

Offline Leoj900

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2020, 11:21:00 am »
They are foundationless. Last Saturday I did a peak in the hive and made sure they are following my guides. There was just the start of some comb, but that?s was good since they were starving just days before.  Since they are the only hive nearby, I have not had to deal with any robbing. There is some weirdness going on where guard bees will kick out their sisters while stinging them. I am worried that all the confusion might be coming from being queenless. I have been really itching to look for the  queen because I have not seen her since I collected the swarm.
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Offline CoolBees

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2020, 03:27:20 pm »
There's not very many bees in that picture. If that's the majority of bees in the hive - they need some help.
You cannot permanently help men by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves - Abraham Lincoln

Offline FloridaGardener

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2020, 03:49:12 pm »
Guard bees stinging sounds like robbers getting the syrup.  Are any bees spinning?

Don't be surprised if you don't see a cloud.  They can rob by stealth - and will fly a couple miles for an easy sugar source.  Plus, there are hardly any bees there.  How can they be taking down very much syrup?

For reference, an average-sized spring swarm can draw out four medium frames of comb in a week.

Offline Leoj900

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2020, 03:54:55 pm »
Well I inspected the hive again. They are very noticeably dwindling in numbers. I could not find the queen and all I could see in the comb was nectar. It really points towards their being queenless and at the end of the rope. I am discouraged because these bees were so friendly and they had spent several years in a tree. I am tempted to go and try to get a cutout from the tree to get some brood to give them.
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Offline FloridaGardener

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2020, 04:01:48 pm »
The queen is one of the first to be killed when robbing starts.

And getting bees from a tree isn't easy ... even WITH a chainsaw.  It isn't like Winnie The Pooh.  They will be incredibly defensive. Might be good to have an epi pen at hand. 

Remember Finding Nemo, when the fish swam down together? Bees will fly backward together and sting through your jacket or hit your ankles.

https://ohmy.disney.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/25/2014/03/When-the-fish-win.gif



Offline Leoj900

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2020, 04:09:07 pm »
Haha! Oh dear...
Well the one question I have is that I have seen plenty of pollen coming into the hive durning the week, but I saw no signs of it in the hive. What do you think is going on there?

Offline Seeb

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #20 on: April 11, 2020, 07:01:47 pm »
"are any bees spinning"

FG - what do you mean by this?

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #21 on: April 11, 2020, 09:10:43 pm »
Leoj900 If are you sure there is no queen, eggs, larva, or brood. Now would be a good time to call upon your bee association asking for a frame of such. Surely one of your local membres would be glad to help. Getting that frame home without chilled brood is the next trick.  Good luck.

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Offline FloridaGardener

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #22 on: April 12, 2020, 12:46:37 am »
Seeb - When guard bees fight intruder bees, they grip each other and fly against each other.  So they spin or whirl on the landing board or ground. If you see it, kill both bees.  Sad to end their short lives but you can't risk the robber being emboldened to bring the rest of her colony. 

Leo, imho those are not enough bees to even put in a mating nuc to raise a queen.  Although years ago I seem to recall the account of a patient scientist type person who took 28 bees, a queen, an incubator, and immense special care to nurture and build a massive colony.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2020, 11:08:38 pm by FloridaGardener »

Offline Seeb

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #23 on: April 12, 2020, 10:39:17 am »
Thanks Florida

Offline Bob Wilson

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #24 on: April 14, 2020, 09:04:36 am »
I also saw pollen gathering on a dying robbed hive this spring, Leo. In my case, I had done a bad job making a split. At the end, there was nothing but old, unhatched brood. No egg or larva, and little nectar or resources, but the foragers were still working along, trying to continue the hive, bringing in nectar and pollen. Sad. I shook them out, and let them beg entrance into another hive.
But we can still learn from our loss. It makes me want to succeed all the more.

Offline Leoj900

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #25 on: April 14, 2020, 09:34:04 am »
Thanks everyone. I definitely know that I caught the ?bug?. I have reached out to a local beekeeper who was very encouraging and will help me out with some bees. For now I am just encouraging my bees to make the most of their time. They just went through a cup of sugar in two days, with is remarkable for how few there are. I assume they are just storing it though since there is nothing else to be done right now without a queen.
I appreciate all your advice. 

Offline Leoj900

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #26 on: May 05, 2020, 03:37:36 pm »
Here is a very late update for anyone who is interested. After over a month since giving up on my poor queenless swarm, I went out to help a local beekeeper and one of her hives had bees building burr comb that we cut out. The comb turned out to be full of eggs. I ended up bringing home some of the eggs and stuck them in my hive. Today I inspected and found a queen cup was being worked on. If this hive survives after over a month of dwindling away, then I am going to be quite happy.
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Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #27 on: May 05, 2020, 03:52:06 pm »
I was and I am interested. Rooting for you. Keep us updated.

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #28 on: May 06, 2020, 09:32:32 am »
Bee sure they do not have too much drawn comb to protect. Put the excess in the freezer until they start building up their numbers. Then you can give them back one frame at a time.
Jim Altmiller

Offline Leoj900

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #29 on: May 17, 2020, 05:15:14 pm »
Happy update! I could not help myself from looking in the hive to see if the queen had made it. The youngest bee in there is at least 52 days old, the eggs I put in there spent 30 minutes in my car while being transported over, and there are so few bees left... but there is still hope! Look at her!
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Nobody told me the roller coaster ride of emotions that having bees could be.

Offline Leoj900

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #30 on: May 17, 2020, 05:17:48 pm »
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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #31 on: May 17, 2020, 06:07:53 pm »
Congratulations. You did good. 😀
Jim Altmiller

Offline .30WCF

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Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #32 on: May 17, 2020, 11:55:24 pm »
That is kinda a crazy story. Good luck.


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Offline Leoj900

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #33 on: May 22, 2020, 06:08:36 pm »
https://streamable.com/fffwf9

I got her on video! I saw her head off to a DCA and ran and grabbed my camera and sat like a worried parent by the hive for her to return.

Online TheHoneyPump

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #34 on: May 22, 2020, 06:40:12 pm »
REALLY neat video.  What I noticed was how she had her butt wide open and waving it around.  She's definitely ready to go play.  Crossing fingers she has a good time and makes it back safely.

Assuming she makes it back and starts laying, your next biggest challenge is going to be simply the bee population and age.  It does not take many bees to care for the new queen and get her mated.  However it takes a critical number of young bees to raise enough brood to increase the population size.  It will take 3 weeks from when she lays the first egg to when any new bees will emerge.  There are few bees in the pictures shown and the ones that are there are already geriatric.

What I am saying is that beautiful queen may make it, but the colony as a unit is doomed unless you can get some help from a donor hive to boost the population at about 5 days after she has started laying.


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Offline Leoj900

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #35 on: May 22, 2020, 06:44:34 pm »
This is her returning from a good time. She has some white stuff sticking out of there. Now I just have to wait and see if a couple ancient bees can raise enough young to make this miracle hive survive.

Online TheHoneyPump

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #36 on: May 22, 2020, 06:59:18 pm »
Good.  Now wait 4 days.  Before looking in.
In the meantime, make a plan to boost them so she has help.  Do you have a friendly beekeeper nearby willing to shake a bunch of loose bees from the heart of an active brood nest into a small/medium cardboard box for you? You don't need much and you don't need any of his/her frames. Explain that you just need some bees of young age to help your new queen get through her first brood cycle.  He/she will understand.  You need at least 2 good frame shakes of bees.
On day 6 from whenever that video was taken. Go get the donor bees into a basic cardboard box. Like a shoe box. Damp and clamp them down with sugar water in a spritzer bottle as they are being shook. Get them over to your new queen's hive.  Wait 1 hour. Crack a space in the box and again damp and clamp them with sugar water and shake/roll and bang the box around so they are sticky and clumped together and cannot fly; then quickly dump them into the bottom of the hive at the opposite end of the box from where the queen is.  Close up and leave them all alone together for a week. Come back to a nice patch of healthy capped brood and a colony that is on its way to recovery.

Hope that helps!


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Offline Nock

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Re: Unmotivated swarm
« Reply #37 on: May 22, 2020, 08:45:18 pm »
That?s awesome. Glad your work paid off. Good luck.