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Beekeeping: Did I just mess up big-time? Returned swarm queen to hive...

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Barc05
West Grove, PA

July 9, 2011
12:11 PM

Post #8682273

I am getting ready to leave for work around noon Friday and I noticed a swarm of bugs in my back yard. My wife speculates that they are these big beetles that we have been seeing lately. Curious, I planed to cirlcle through the back yard in the car as I left for work.
To my suprise, they were bees! I had my hives die over winter and this swarm came from one of two hives from packages I installed this spring.
I ran in and quickly donned my veil to go look at the hive. I noticed a swarm collecting on a nearby branch. When I got to my hive, I noticed that my queen (which came marked and clipped) was on the outside of the hive, on the side, near the entrance.
The weather forcast for the afternoon was severe thunderstoms. I was at a total loss as to what to do. I did not have time to capture the swarm...I had to get to work. I did not want the queen outside in the thunderstorm so...I opened the hive and put her back in at the top. My hope was that since the queen could not fly with the swarm, she would work her way back down to the entrance and I could install her and the swarming bees in a new hive after work. When I got home, the swarm was no longer in the tree. I looked in the upper hive body and did not find a queen. Storms entered the area and I could not look in the lower hive body. Next day, nothing out of the ordinary. I hoped that the rain stopped the swarm for the day and they would reswarm today...but nothing. What have I done and what should I do?
cfbloom
Marengo, IL

July 25, 2011
7:39 PM

Post #8715317

I lost my first 2 or 3 swarms.
Sometimes the swarm will stick around for a couple of days, but if they swarm early in the day, they usually leave the same day.
The first thing I would have done is tried to hive the swarm. Take a deep super with frames and hopefully some with established comb and put an empty super on top. Cut the branch and put the branch and all the bees into the empty super on top of the new super. If you have a piece of queen excluder plastic or metal, fasten it over the entrance so the queen cannot get out. Take the branch & empty super out after 2 days.
Turn your attention to the old hive and check for more than 1 queen cell. Sometimes you can see them with a flashlight in between the frames, so you don't have to pull all the frames out. If the old queen was clipped, she had to stay in the hive, but there may be new queens ready to challenge her, and they will fight her to the death.
The best thing to do is to try to avoid swarming by adding supers before the colony gets overcrowded. You can add shallow supers above and below the brood supers. Here in Illinois, we are having a very productive year. I have 3 or 4 shallow supers over the deep brood supers, and I've been pulling off filled supers and frames and replacing them with empties since the beginning of July.

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