Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nuc #5 Swarmed

This year has been the worst swarming year since I've started beekeeping.  At this point I'm more of a bee-releaser than a beekeeper.

We noticed a swarm yesterday coming from the direction of the neighbors apiary.  We banged some pots together to get them to ball up.  It was a very small swarm and it settled in a tree overhanging my side apiary.  The neighbor checked her hive but found nothing to indicate the swarm came from her bees.  I was confident it wasn't from my yard as all the hive have plenty of open space in them (Ha!).  There are three other apiaries within a mile of our two.  We all thought the bees came from somewhere else.

Swarm in a Sourwood tree
Today i went to look into the Nuc & Mary.  I've not been in them for a while and i wanted to make sure the swarm didn't come from my yard.  As soon as i opened up the Nuc i saw an unmarked queen running around the top frames.  She was on top of two frames in the top box that have brood.  The brood on those frames is very young.  I wasn't wearing my glasses so i don't know if there were any eggs in there.  Again the larva were very young looking.

I need to find out when an existing queen swarms in relation to the emergence of the new stay behind queen.

The brood patterns in the nest was weak & spotty but that's the nature of brood during a swarm event.  I'll check in a week to see if i can find eggs.  The new queen was enlarged and good size.  It may be her that made the larva i saw.

New Queen ready to be marked
The clincher was the three used swarm cells on the fourth frame in the bottom box.  I have been peeking in this hive almost each week.  There has been plenty of room for the combined bees to live on.  The two nucs together equal only ten frames yet i gave then another five with foundation.  Which they've been drawing on.  The frames were not honey bound either.  idunno!

The culprit cell
It is late in the year for queens to be mating.  Not a lot of drones out there.  Yet this queen my have made it under the wire.  The population isn't actually low now after this swarm. If this queen is fertile she has two months left of laying before normal cluster time. Their population can be on track to get them through winter.  That and after all it's a nuc.  They only need to have ten frames of bees and they almost have it now.

This should not have been a surprise AND I should have bee looking out for this.  Both nucs that were combined to make this large nuc were from swarms!   So I essentially Doubled Down on the swarming bet.  I'm going to start keeping better, visual, track of how my colonies formed.  These aren't bees.  They're swarm monkeys.

...and then there was this guy



Randy Emmitt said...

We inspected a friends hive of Russian bees on Saturday. It looked like it re queened recently and might have swarmed the bees were much less than the last inspection. We did find eggs in the very last frame! Hope the nuke does ok, given so late in the season. Like your blog!

Hemlock said...

Randy, Thanks.
My understanding is that a queen will cease laying in preparation of a swarm. So if you see eggs the new queen may have begun to lay. Did you see an enlarged queen? It can take two weeks before a new queen begins to lay.

Glad you like the blog. I use it as a journal so i can remember everything.

immwia said...

Wow, I love the term swarm monkeys. Sorry to hear about another swarm but I guess you are right...you should have expected it. Thanks for the update Hemlock.

Hemlock said...

The fact is this very queen has swarmed twice! Once this spring from the bee tree and now. Same Queen! I guess it's best she's gone. Hope her daughter isn't the same.