New Swarm – is all ok?

I got my new swarm hived on Sunday.  Since then, the bees have been taking time to settle in with increasing amounts of foraging trips by some of the scouts, which all seems like really good news to me.

However, each morning there are always a significant number of dead bees both on the hive and all around it. This is more than just the colony “cleaning house”. IS this likely to part of a natural wastage after the stress of moving, or do I need to be a bit more concerned?

The bees themselves are hanging in a ball from the bars of the top box, with not much activity below that.

Many thanks


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9 Responses to New Swarm – is all ok?

  1. simplebees says:

    There have been several cases of swarms that appear stressed – possibly due to lack of food as a result of being out for some time in poor weather. One such is here. I would try the same remedy as I suggested in response to that post. Let us know what happens.


  2. Hi Gareth
    The swarm was a mature 2kg swarm. When they were first transferred into my hive boxes they were given a few dollops of hive honey between the top bars to keep them going. Considering this was only on Sunday would they have used up all their reserves by now? The bulk of the hive seems ok as they are just hanging in a tight ball from the bars in the top box.

    Thanks, Graham

  3. simplebees says:

    would they have used up all their reserves by now?

    It all depends on how hungry they were (if it is hunger) and how much you gave them. There really isn’t much else one can do apart from putting in some syrup. The weather for the rest of the week is set to be poor, so there may be few opportunities to forage.

    BTW, what was the source of the honey?

  4. Ok, thanks. So, 1:1 sugar syrup is equal proportions white sugar to water – nothing else?? If I feed, how long would you feed for? Does it depend on the weather? Just to let you know, the honey was from one of John Haverson’s hives.

    • simplebees says:

      So, 1:1 sugar syrup is equal proportions white sugar to water – nothing else??

      Essentially, yes. I add some nettle tea (infuse nettle leaves in boiling water) to add essential minor nutrients and the tip of a teaspoon of organic vitamin C powder to the cool liquid (vitamin C is the only vitamin present in significant quantities in nectar). I make up the feed in an empty wine bottle – half fill with white sugar (it must be white) and top up with hot water and nettle tea, then shake to dissolve and add the vitamin C. Give half of this to the bees and repeat as fast as it is taken until the weather settles and the bees start flying again. From the weather forecast that will not be until after next weekend.


  5. With no real end to this rainy period in sight, I decided to bite the bullet this morning and feed. Yesterday, there was a lot of busy activity outside the hive with a small cloud of bees in some sort of “holding pattern” as they came in to land. However, none of them seemed to bringing any pollen back in, hence my decision this morning.

    The weather looks as if it is going to be quite rainy well into next week as well. I don’t really want to be feeding them for all that time but what other options are there as I don’t want to encourage laziness in them?

  6. simplebees says:

    I don’t want to encourage laziness in them?

    Don’t worry, you won’t. 😉

  7. In this weather, how often should I be feeding them? By the looks of things, they will get through a whole containers worth in less than a day. Once a day? More often? So many questions, it feels like I need answers to even the simplest.

  8. simplebees says:

    You don’t say how big your container is, but at this time of year, I would feed at a maximum rate of 1/3 litre a day (half a wine bottle – which is what I use to make up small amounts of syrup). This is a lower rate than one would feed in the autumn as the idea is not to build up surplus, but to keep the colony gently expanding. The bees will add to this their own nectar in breaks in the weather. Once the weather clears and you see plenty of activity at the hive entrance, feeding can stop. There should shortly be plenty of blackberry around, and clover too if you are near pasture land.

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