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Is my bee colony swarming or superceding (or something else)?

  • 28 Nov 2016 6:23 PM
    Message # 4414407

    Hi, This is a follow up from a previous FAQ that Andrew posted for me (22 October) when I directed a question about a bee swarm we captured.  

    About 5 weeks ago my daughter found a swarm in our neighbourhood which we relocated to an 8-frame hive.  We checked the hive about 2 weeks later and found the swarm covered only about 3 of the frames but could see the bees had built cells, stored pollen and there was open cells with larvae and closed cells - so it looked OK.  No disease signs that I could see but also could not see eggs but we did not look too hard for these.  

    Three weeks after this (today) we checked the hive again and the colony has not increased in size, there are no open cells with larva, but still some closed cells.  There are also three very large cells (one open, two closed) that look like queen cells.  We do think we located the queen as well.

    So the query is if this is a case of the queen just losing her mojo and the workers are in the process of replacing her, or are they getting ready to swarm and abscond from the hive.  I am guessing the former is the case but would like to know if this sort of phenomena has been observed by others in the club.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • 02 Dec 2016 9:34 PM
    Reply # 4435449 on 4414407
    Sue Zuber

    Firstly you mention three large cells that could be queen cells.  A queen cell is obvious (peanut shape hanging vertically).  If you are unsure, could these cells be drone cells ( large dome caps standing proud of the brood)

    That would be good to know.

    Bees tend to swarm for a reason, lack of space, populated out.  You've picked up a swarm and housed it in a suitable space so there should be no reason to swarm.  Therefore I question why they would leave the colony they have just established.If you have spotted the queen, was she large and laying?

    The weather and poor lead up to Spring (what Spring!) has caused bees to go backwards and swarms that are only just establishing are really struggling.  Have they got enough stores? maybe try feeding and see if that sparks them up.

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