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  • Catching a Swarm by mistake!

  • share the funny, scary & the completely stupid things you've seen & heard
share the funny, scary & the completely stupid things you've seen & heard
 #3935  by Darrin
 06 Jul 2019, 14:30
So, I have a very small concern, only five colonies and I always keep a spare brood box in case one of them decides to swarm. The five are kept about half a mile away from the house in a little fenced off area where horses can't disturbe them. The spare brood box complete with floor, super, roof, stand and all frames with drawn out wax (essentially the perfect home) is kept in the back of my garage behind the landrover. You're probably way ahead of me already.
I'm happy that through regular inspections etc, my five are not ready to swarm, I've seen no signs of Queen cups and they all have plenty of room, no one appears to be making preparations to leave. Then two days go I noticed the hive behind the Land Rover suddenly has visitors, a substantial swarm has moved in and taken up residence. Now, yes there are lessons to be learnt about not keeping a fully made up hive outside and close to the house, the garage is open ended at one side so is a nice cool place to go into and the hive is perfect to start up a new colony.
The boss is annoyed because the blacksmith is coming today to shoe the horses and the bees are right beside where we need to be. So, last night she needed me to move them, I snuck out at 11pm sealed up the entrance and transported them. I am aware of the three feet, three mile rule, but was pretty stuck with no options other than to move them to where the other five colonies are. I placed a branch at the entrance in the hope of disorienting them as they came out, but no such luck, they're all back behind the landrover this morning wondering where their nice new home is.
The wife has had to cancel the blacksmith, who took 12 weeks to make this appointment, I've run out of empty hives, the bees are sat on the back wall of the garage and the roof of the Land Rover and I have no way of moving them. I could try to spray them with sugar water and give them a box to walk up into? They've probably all but abandoned the new Queen in the hive I took up last night and even if I successfully capture this lot, I'm still going to have to take them at least three miles away.
It's fair to say, my dinner is in the dog.
 #3936  by NigelP
 06 Jul 2019, 16:27
Stick hive with queen back to where it was. That should recapture most of bees. Then you are going tio have to move them, It doesn't have to be three miles 1/2 mile at a push. Stick then in your own back garden for a week or so.

I've had similar happen in the past, now I always seal entrances of any spare hives to prevent this happening
 #4345  by AdamD
 01 Aug 2019, 17:08
Did you get your bees back in the box?
 #4400  by Darrin
 08 Aug 2019, 11:19
I did!

I returned the box back to the garage and they moved in overnight. The only trouble is - they're still sat there.

To move them where they're 'meant' to be with the rest of the hives is a distance of about 50 feet. I think if I were to just take them up there again, they'd be back in the garage in a flash.

I'm thinking my only option is to move them a few miles away, leave them for a bit and then bring them back to their proper place.

A friend has said he's interested in taking up the hobby, so I might drop them in his garden (about 15 miles away) on loan for the rest of the season and see how he goes.

They seem very content where they are, but it's too close to the cars, workshop extra - so they'll have to be relocated.

 #4403  by Chrisbarlow
 08 Aug 2019, 17:17
Encouraging someone else in to the craft is always a bonus
 #4417  by Caroline
 09 Aug 2019, 15:31
Move the hive at night, when you're sure all the bees are in, put it where you want it to go, then put a garden fork in the ground in front of the entrance. Unblock the entrance. When the bees start to fly at daybreak they will spot they are in a new location (because of the garden fork) and will start flying backwards to orientate, they will return to the new position not the old position.

This method has worked for me every time, whether 10' or half mile.
 #4422  by Patrick
 09 Aug 2019, 16:03
What a fantastic tip! Got to try that...

Does it have to be a trenching fork or would a border fork do?? 😎!

And what about a shovel (thats enough garden implement jokes. Ed)
 #4435  by Darrin
 10 Aug 2019, 09:49
Yeah. I kind of thought I was being clever enough to do this the first time I moved them. I went up at night time, sealed them in, moved them about 50 feet and then put a big branch in front of the entrance. I had hoped they'd come out in the morning, bump into the branch and leaves, then re-orientate themselves to the new spot.
No such luck, they flew past the branch and straight back to the garage, I just assumed they liked Land Rovers.
I wonder if a fork would be more confusing than a branch, I have one with a nice blue handle.
 #4436  by Patrick
 10 Aug 2019, 10:36
That’s interesting Darrin, would have thought a leafy branch might well have done it. I haven’t tried the garden fork idea but had read the suggestion that if walking in front of the hive makes them restless to hang a sack off a fork handle and the constant movement “desensitised” the guard bees. But never actually tried it as yet.
 #4438  by NigelP
 10 Aug 2019, 11:05
Bees will reorientate to a new position even if you simply swivel the hive through 90 degrees., no fork no branches required.
You are looking at the wrong end of the stick here....bees memorise outward and inward journeys from their hive. So when they re-find a patch of forage from their new site the dominant memory from the landmarks there is the journey back to the old hive location and this will remain until they move on from that patch of forage.
I'll give you a remarkable example of this from one of my hives that I needed to swivel 90 degrees. Normally I would do in increments but had to do it in one go. Naturally all the bees out foraging arrived back at their old entrance position which was now a side looking quite confused. You could watch bees leaving the hive start doing reorientation flights to adjust to their new frontage position. What was remarkable was that even after three weeks foragers were still returning to their old entrance site at the side of the hive, but instead of milling around confused they simply landed on the side and now immediately ran round to the entrance...It gradually slowed down and stopped when the brambles went over, so I presumed they were working the same patch and their dominant return journey was the old one.
That's why the 3 miles is a guideline, the important bit (after moving them) is whether they find a patch of forage they have worked previously.