An Artificial Swarm Attempt Gone Awry.

Welcome to NZ Beekeepers+
Would you like to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.
Sign up
13
5
Lower Hutt
Experience
Hobbyist
We're much very much still learners. Please treat accordingly!
Two hives in a small apiary, both building up nicely but beginning to raise queen cells. Call them A & B. All in 3/4 boxes.

Hive B was artificially swarm-ed by separating the queen on a frame of brood and putting her into a box on the original hive site with a frame of stores either side and the rest drawn comb. A second box of comb and some uncapped honey placed on top.
The frames with queen cells (10 in all) and brood went into another box on a new site 4m away, made up with queen-less brood and more stores in the second box above. This split is flying, bringing back pollen, and we're leaving it alone to hopefully raise a queen. The donor hive is rocking, meanwhile.

Hive A has been brooding, increasing, and storing but for two seasons now we have never once seen a queen and believe us, we tried REALLY hard! Following the artificial swarm guidance we split the hive in two side by side with the swarm cells in the right hand side box of the two but with the brood and stores carefully screened for royalty. On top of the second box was placed a hive mat with a notch upward as an escape and a spare box of frames with a few curious bees inside to store it meanwhile. Interestingly after a day, before the weather packed in, most activity was around the RHS hive, suggesting that a queen was within. There was flying from the hive mat slot too.

Today the southerly let up and the LHS boxes were inspected. Still no queen found, but capped and fresh brood, and two inhabited uncapped queen cells found. No extraordinary numbers of capped drone cells though. The lid was lifted on the spare top box of the RHS hive to discover a fat black queen and maybe 5 incomplete frames of capped and uncapped brood, one queen cell, and fresh stores. At that point we backed away to seek advice.

Advice sought then: What do we do with the queened colony in that top RHS box? Remove it to a new position? Merge it with the LHS boxes since they have been mixing and mingling for a week side by side, and risk a queen fight if they actually have one in hiding? That box cannot become a hive-on-top-of-a-hive and stay. We've run out of day to open the hive below but that has to be a next step, but would really appreciate some guidance meanwhile.

Thank you.
 
8,886
5,315
maungaturoto
Experience
Commercial
got a pic? its a bit hard to imagen your setup.

couple of basic things, for an onsite split like that the basic rule is to move the queen. eg move the whole brood box(s) to the new spot and bring back a couple of frames of eggs/brood to the old location. so the moved one has most of the brood and the queen, the old location has some brood (q cell) and the bees returning.
try and point the new hive in a different direction.

the top box, i'm not exactly sure what you have done. a top split?
you need to give the bottom time for a new queen to get going. typically at least 4 weeks (5-6 in some case). then check for eggs (not brood) to see if you have new queen laying.
if queen laying in both then split the top off and move to new site far away from the old one.
if your sure nothing in bottom then join the two and make the entrance face the same way as the top.
 
  • Agree
Reactions: John B

Alastair

Founder Member
Platinum
8,785
9,993
Auckland
Experience
Semi Commercial
Re the black queen in the top box, based on what you say there are fresh eggs there so you know she is laying?

If so then check the bottom hive, and the other hive, to ensure they are queenright (by looking for new eggs and healthy worker brood).

If everything has a laying queen your options are to split the top one off as a 3rd hive, or, if you only want 2 hives you could put the black queen into the bottom box and let the two queens fight it out. If any of the hives are queenless you could if you wish, use the black queen for that.
 
13
5
Lower Hutt
Experience
Hobbyist
got a pic? its a bit hard to imagen your setup.

couple of basic things, for an onsite split like that the basic rule is to move the queen. eg move the whole brood box(s) to the new spot and bring back a couple of frames of eggs/brood to the old location. so the moved one has most of the brood and the queen, the old location has some brood (q cell) and the bees returning.
try and point the new hive in a different direction.

the top box, i'm not exactly sure what you have done. a top split?
you need to give the bottom time for a new queen to get going. typically at least 4 weeks (5-6 in some case). then check for eggs (not brood) to see if you have new queen laying.
if queen laying in both then split the top off and move to new site far away from the old one.
if your sure nothing in bottom then join the two and make the entrance face the same way as the top.
 

Attachments

  • 20231126_164146_1.jpg
    20231126_164146_1.jpg
    255 KB · Views: 10
  • 20231126_164217_1.jpg
    20231126_164217_1.jpg
    305.5 KB · Views: 10
13
5
Lower Hutt
Experience
Hobbyist
AaaGGHHH! Lost the message that should have gone with these! We'll fix that probably tomorrow night.
Today, finally, managed a partial inspection of the first-pictured (above) two hives. That queen-right box on top of the RHS of the two was moved as per your collective advice 3m onto a base Sunday evening and a box of foundation added above. There was no activity in the top box today but the bottom box was full and active. Happy with that hive now.
The under-story RHS two box hive was very active once opened and bumping the veil, and I received multiple stings to my hands despite smoking them well. Returning with gloves allowed the inspection to continue and the gloves too were well stung. They were really pissy about me being in there. Capped brood, no new grubs,and three empty swarm cells were found, along with chewed out old ones, one cell had a viable queen grub half filling it, and a slim very young looking caramel queen, a virgin perhaps, scuttling about on the second-last frame left to examine.
Can we mark this as solved for the moment, in so far as the hive originally with no queen ever found in two years has divided into one with a robust new queen and another with either a virgin or the original unfound queen being superseded? Hopefully that hive will settle again with time and stop attacking us. The artificial swarm pictured second above appears to have worked more by good luck as well.
Thank you for the advice too. Lessons learned. As an equipment supplier said to us the other day, "If you have bees you will have surprises."
 
  • Like
Reactions: Alastair
8,886
5,315
maungaturoto
Experience
Commercial
That queen-right box on top of the RHS of the two was moved as per your collective advice 3m onto a base Sunday evening
when i say "move far away" i mean km's not m's.
the reason being that the field bees from the nuc will fly back to the parent and will have a bit of a scrap, because they have different queen they are regarded as invaders. probably why the parent hive was a bit nasty. moving them far away means the bees are lost and won't fly back home.
trouble is now you have a nuc thats lost a lot of its bees making it very weak, which makes it vulnerable and also it may not bring food in to keep raising more bees and will start to decline. it really needs to be fed pollen supplement, assuming there is some honey stores in it. if no stores it will also need sugar feed but that brings a big risk of it being robbed.
Can we mark this as solved for the moment, in so far as the hive originally with no queen ever found in two years has divided into one with a robust new queen and another with either a virgin or the original unfound queen being superseded? Hopefully that hive will settle again with time and stop attacking us. The artificial swarm pictured second above appears to have worked more by good luck as well.
chewed out queen cell typically indicates there is a new queen, tho she will take some time before she starts to lay. just leave them alone and have a look in month or two.

first-pictured (above) two hives. That queen-right box on top of the RHS
whats the box at the bottom of that hive?

in the 2nd pic whats the stack of gear between the hives?
Thank you for the advice too. Lessons learned.
its a big learning curve. however reading the books and understanding the why's, and how things work, makes it a whole lot easier.
once you know why things are done, then situations like this become easy to fix and easy to avoid. then beekeeping becomes a lot nicer.
 
13
5
Lower Hutt
Experience
Hobbyist
Thank you for that Tristan. That learning curve seems almost vertical still after 5yrs of hobby keeping.
We don't have a lot of alternative hive sites on 2.5 hectares of gorse, but have a hive up by the house on actual lawn that is probably only 300m as the bee flies from where those pictured hives are located. Is a move to there worth attempting and with some provisions such as locking the bees in for a day or three and obscuring the entrance with branches, or other means?
The box at the bottom of the hive is a rim that the hive boxes were placed on during the manipulations and was subsequently built on top of and forgotten during hive assembly. Since removed.
That stack was from a stock-take of hardware to be picked from for the artificial swarm divisions of the original hives. Since removed too.
 
8,886
5,315
maungaturoto
Experience
Commercial
The box at the bottom of the hive is a rim that the hive boxes were placed on during the manipulations and was subsequently built on top of and forgotten during hive assembly. Since removed.
That stack was from a stock-take of hardware to be picked from for the artificial swarm divisions of the original hives. Since removed too.
(y)

Thank you for that Tristan. That learning curve seems almost vertical still after 5yrs of hobby keeping.
We don't have a lot of alternative hive sites on 2.5 hectares of gorse, but have a hive up by the house on actual lawn that is probably only 300m as the bee flies from where those pictured hives are located. Is a move to there worth attempting and with some provisions such as locking the bees in for a day or three and obscuring the entrance with branches, or other means?

one way is to do it in bad weather, ie rain for a few days. its better but i doubt it perfect. i suspect many older bees will still return to the old site. the newly hatched bees will do just fine as they don't know the old hive location.
the best way is to take it to a mates place for a day or two, then bring it back home.

of course its better to not get into that situation. by using the drift back as part of the splitting method you avoid all that hassle. by taking the queen and most of the brood to the new location, you hold onto enough bees and have plenty hatching out, while all the field bees go back to the old site and go make a new queen.
 


Top