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What do I do if a swarm of bees turns up?

If you have a swarm of bees - DON'T PANIC. The first thing to check is if they are honey bees. If they really are honey bees then ring your local beekeepers association. For more details on how to check what you have got and get help see our swarms page.

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Swarming instinct

Well we did expect them to swarm!

Yes, our bees at Green Lane had been prolific with queen cells and we had worried that we had left far too many queen cells in place.  That was why we set up the bait hive in the hopes that we wouldn't lose a swarm.

After getting home from checking our hives at the new apiary, we got a phone call from Green Lane to say that our bees had swarmed.

There was a team of gardeners working there and they had found a small swarm on a log pile. We had taken one of our new nuc boxes which was perfect to get the bees to walk up into.  As David placed that in position, he was just commenting how there really should be a larger swarm somewhere nearby when he looked up and there is was, hanging in a tree. 
The bees weren't flying as they had clearly settled for the evening as it was even trying to rain by now.  Well that swarm was mine for the taking - nice and easy. A couple of clips of the branches and it was in the skep. 

The swarm in the skep pretty well settled in straight away with very few bees flying once we had got any stragglers from the branches.  So, we were easily able to wrap the skep in the sheet we had placed it on ready for the journey home.  It took a bit more encouragement to get the smaller swarm to go up into the nuc box and whilst encouraging them up with smoke and nudges, David noticed the queen on the floor.  Carefully we caught her using a queen catcher and placed her in the nuc.  The remaining stragglers were then fairly easy to encourage inside and we let them settle before closing up the entrance and strapping the nuc box ready for travel.

Whilst at Green Lane we felt we should take a look in the two hives that were supposed to be raising a queen - that is ONE queen each!  Don't they know that? 

One was on a double brood and we heard the queen piping in the top box.  And in the lower brood, we saw the bees holding back another queen so there was definitely going to be another swarm or a fight.  Quick thinking on our part and who knows if it was the right choice but as there were two brood boxes, we split them into two hives, side by side (so that the one displaced from the original hive location would at least benefit from some drifting.  It was a good job we had the bait hive there otherwise we wouldn't have had enough equipment.

A look in the other hive showed there were a couple of capped queen cells there so we're just hoping that we don't lose half of those bees.  I think we might have got that one about right though so with some luck we'll be OK.  We did say we wanted to celebrate the swarming event so if we lose some then I guess we should be pleased that the bees are doing what comes naturally.

So, that was a futher hive in place at Green Lane plus we returned to our garden with a nuc and a skep which we hived into a spare national hive we had ready (luckily!).

So, we now number a grand total of 17 hives - 6 of which we hope have raised or are raising a new queen.  Well, we did say we wanted to expand this year!
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Posted by sally on Friday 12 June 2009 - 23:23:24 |printer friendly