for pictures and more information.
- What is with all these swarms? I have run out of
equipment and the wifes patience.
- I had a swarm yesterday, and it was really
small.Should I try to catch it and if so, then what?
- I received a call that a swarm had settled on some property that was to go to settlement
in two days and the caller was in a panic to get the bees removed. Said they were in an old oak
barrel that the bottom had rotted off and the Bees were going to and fro from the hole in the side
of the barrel. It turned out these critters were Yellow Jackets not Honey Bees. I told them to call an
exterminator or destroy the colony themselves, as I don't do Yellow Jackets. Any comments and
explain removal if they had been Honey Bees.
First of all, let me say right off I have swarms. Like many of you, I must maintain
regular employment to survive; therefore Im seldom with my bees when I need to
be. Were I there, it is possible, I repeat possible,
that I could prevent the urge of the hive to do the natural process that
results in the increase of the hives. The only thing any of us know is that it
is the natural instinct of bees to swarm. Many of the authorities try to
theorize this that and the other as to the cause. The bottom line is, it's
natural. Can it be prevented in every case? No! It can be delayed in most cases
and in a good many cases for an entire season. So, keep it simple. Do your
early rotation and even a second rotation. Feed as long as they take it. Add
additional boxes before you think they need it and keep adding them longer than
you think they are needed. Now, there are little things you can do as one gains
experience and hopefully delay the instinct. Remember, beekeeping is supposed
to be fun.
Simplest thing is wave good-bye.Realize that the younger queen is still in the hive. The risk is that the young queen may not be
fully mated and may not even be out of the cell yet. In the latter case, the chance of a good mating gets more remote
each day that passes. In early
September, many hives have begun the divestiture of drones, minimizing the
chances of a good queen. This type of
hive behavior leads to queens that fail in midseason the following year, and we
sometimes wonder why. If you know the
hive that cast the swarm, mark it and pay close attention to it next year. It will not stay in the hive generally even
if you put it back; however, one might put it in another weak hive. I prefer to hive it in a small nuc, then a
few days later newspaper it onto the target hive by way of a modified inner
cover. I have given the resident queen
the hive tool test about half the time, but I see no difference in the
survivability of the hive either way--the queens duke it out or the proven queen moves into the
Let's cover both. Yellow Jackets are no friend of mine and I believe under the
circumstances you gave them the best answer. If time had permitted there are two solutions.
There are some commercially available Yellow Jacket traps, but be careful they are not open to
the Honey Bees. The better units have entrances that are too small for a Honey Bee so check them
carefully. One can utilize Sevin liquid, which is harmful to Honey Bees, but in this case fashion a
mop with a long handle and apply the liquid in and around the hole. Do this several times over
a few days and the colony will dwindle away. They clean their feet with their mouth thereby
consuming the poison.
If this happened to be a swarm, which I doubt this late in the season less it be an after-swarm not
worth fooling with. One could utilize it to requeen a colony in need of a queen. In either case, open
the barrel up and box the swarm, closing the box immediately. Remove what's left of the barrel
along with the swarm.
Since the Real Estate activity will intensify in the days
before closing and this turns out to be an established
colony I suggest the whole thing be moved. Fashion a wire
bottom to be attached to the barrel in its current position.
Utilize two hive straps around the barrel to prevent the
whole thing collapsing, as stays in old barrels tend to be
very loose and unreliable. Make sure the top is secure in
the groves as you tighten the straps. Lift the whole thing,
place the wire under the barrel and secure it. Staples and
duct tape may both be needed. Before daylight close the
hole with screen and as soon as daylight comes, move the
whole Kit and Caboodle to it's new home several miles
away. Place the barrel on the spot and open the screen
over the hole. Give them a couple of days to orient to the
area then proceed.
Get everything ready for the transfer while the Bees are
getting used to their new area. This will be a mess this late
in the season especially if there are other bees in the area.
If so then when you are ready to precede smoke and
uncover every Hive in the Bee Yard to minimize any robbing.
Carefully smoke and begin dismantling the barrel to
give you access. Five gallon buckets with sealable lids will
be needed, as you are about to learn "Robbing the Bees in
the old days." With a "Bob Cole Cut Comb Knife" or a boning
knife cut away and deposit in the buckets any honey
removing as many Bees as possible before you dump the
chunks. Close the bucket after each chunk. Messy you say,
well no one sent invitations to a picnic. Capped brood
encountered must be cut and placed in an open frame
secured by string or rubber bands then placed in the new
home. Any old foundation not being utilized by the Bees
can be kept and later put in the wax melter. Clean the
inside of the barrel as best you can as all this mess will be
removed and destroyed, preferably by fire. Now that you
are thoroughly covered in dripping honey and angry bees
and since the weather is warm cover the new home and
clean up a bit, but don't take too long. If you brought some
capped honey with you then proceed to place the frames in
the new home leaving space for one frame on one side of
the brood and two spaces on the other side of the brood.
Go to the other hives in the yard, locate and remove a
couple frames with pollen, which you place beside the brood saving one space for a frame
of drawn comb next to the brood. This would never be done in the spring with cool nights thus
eliminating the frame of drawn comb next to the brood and there would be a mix of drawn comb
as well as frames with foundation. The box from which you removed the pollen one must shift
frames to the center of the box filling in the outside with a drawn comb frames. If you did not have
some capped honey with you, but brought additional boxes of drawn comb the honey and pollen
for the new colony must be borrowed from the other hives in the yard. Flick the bees off and
complete the rehab. So, in the box we have brood in the middle, pollen on one side drawn comb
on the other side of the brood with the other pollen frame to the outside of the drawn comb leaving
honey frames beyond to both sides of the box. If the Queen made it through this ordeal that is
great, then the drawn comb frame will give you a chance to check for eggs, otherwise order a
Queen to be installed a few days later. It would be nice to give them another box of honey preferably
from the honey house. Why? It will take the bees several days to repair and settle plus one
must be mindful of winter approaching. Grab several handfuls of grass or straw and loosely cover
the entrance establishing a robber block. Button everyone up and get the heck out of there. Give
them about a week before you check the surviving queen or three days before installing the new
queen, whichever the case.