Woo Hoo!

Very happy as I just caught another swarm! Bless those bees! The TBH next door cast a fairly large swarm this afternoon so we spread out a cloth – put the swarm box on it and gently shook the main cluster into a home made swarm box and put the bars on top. The other bees all marched in! My original blow-torched TBH is ready to receive  but I have a question.

I have just left the swarm box uncorked, on top of my TBH (made the roof flat) with entrance aligned to TBH.

I don’t want to lose them through a wrong decision so I am wondering what’s best. Is leaving them for a couple of days to start building comb on bars in the box best, which might be less stressful to them or should I shake them in tomorrow night? Does leaving them for a couple of days increase the risk of absconding as the swarm box is only about 8″x 12″x 12″ approx. (it’s a wooden wine box) and they are a fair sized swarm?

What would the experts do???

This entry was posted in Horizontal Top Bar Hives, Natural Beekeeping, Swarms. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Woo Hoo!

  1. simplebees says:

    Lucky you!

    The box you have the swarm in is on the small side. If it were me, I’d hive it into the TBH as soon as I could, and give plenty of space to begin with, possibly reducing the space after a few days if there are signs of cross combing. I’d be interested to here what others might say.


  2. ingrid says:

    So tip them in? What’s best time of day – early afternoon? Icing sugar? I have put 8 bars ready between followers. Should I put a couple more in to start with?

  3. ingrid says:

    Thinking about it … does it matter what time of day I hive them? Can I tip them in tomorrow morning? Does the weather matter? Is it okay to leave the entrance open in the TBH?

  4. Ali Twigg says:

    I agree with Gareth; hive them asap. In my experience, just before dark is best so they aren’t tempted to fly and can settle overnight, ready for a fresh start in the morning. You might, if you are worried about absconding, put a queen guard on the entrance for a day or so, to enable the workers to come and go and keep Queenie indoors. However, if they aren’t happy in the hive they’re in, they will abscond any way at some point. Just depends how confident you feel.
    Forget the icing sugar! Why would you want to put that rubbish in? It ain’t natural gal! I used icing sugar once when I was performing a long and protracted cut-out over a few days. Have to say I regretted it and I’m sure the bees did too. Horrible sticky mess and the poor creatures had enough to do setting up a new home without trying to clean that muck off. I feel natural bee keepers have moved on from that ‘trick’. (Hope we have anyway).
    Best of luck with it all. Keep us posted.

  5. simplebees says:

    My personal preference is to run a swarm in to the hive in the evening when flying has subsided or stopped. Moving en masse into the hive is part of what swarms do in nature and my feeling is that it helps ‘fix’ the hive in the mind of the colony and, hence, reduces the chance of the colony moving on (absconding).

    I place a board sloping up to the hive entrance, cover this with an old sheet or similar, and tip the bees onto this. The swarm will naturally run up the slope and discover the hive entrance. Usually no encouragement is needed but, if they the swarm is slow to get going, prompt it gently with a hand or a little soft smoke around the edges of the bees. Watch carefully and you will likely see the queen running for the hive entrance. It’s the only time you will ever see a queen run!

    In the alternative, if the swarm has already started building comb on the bars in the box (which is quite likely), gently transfer these bars across to the hive and tip the remaining bees into the hive from above. Time of day is not critical in this case – go for a gap in the weather (which is due to be poor for the rest of the week). Leave the hive entrance open.

    As to the space in the hive: work by Tom Seeley indicates that swarm scouts measure the volume of potential homes and prefer ones that are around 40 litres in size. That’s about 2/3rds the size of a standard horizontal TBH. Hence the suggestion that initially the volume should be around this size. As I said, keep an eye on them and if the bees start using this space to be creative with their comb, you will need to reduce it to get straight combs (along the top bars).

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