I was luckily enough to watch a swarm land on my swarm trap today. But after I came back from an appointment they’ve mostly clumped up on the roof I made for it and haven’t made a full venture inside. There is plenty of traffic at the entrance, and I can’t guarantee the beetightness at the top where they’ve bearded up. Should I just wait for them to move in on their own or try and move them now by brushing the clump into an intermediate box to move to my hive? I’m inclined just to wait and see, I don’t want to scare off the swarm or something by being too hasty.
So I left everything as-is to see if the situation rights itself tomorrow. The cluster outside the trap has gotten smaller (which may have been just clumping up from the cooler temps). I shined a flashlight inside and there is definitely a big clump inside as well. I also saw pollen getting taken inside on at least one bee so they’re there to stay I assume, at least until I move them to the top bar hive.
I think it’s probably just a big swarm in a small box and it’s hot out. These factors combined and you’ve got some bearding bees!
Should I just go ahead and dump them in the hive then when evening comes around?
I would get them dumped into your full size hive, yes.
So that went . . . poorly.
I got the clump that was outside the trap pretty easily, as well as the top bar frames from the top of the trap. The bees that were all over the inside of the trap, however, did not want to budge. My attempts to shake them out or brush them out ended up with lots and lots of angry bees. Luckily the not-vinyl gloves and bee suit kept me from getting any real stings, although dark fell before I was able to puzzle out how to move all the bees. So now I’m in the unenviable position of having half the bees in my hive, half in a not well thought out swarm trap.
I’ve decided to try and let the bees sort out how to continue. If they move to the hive because I got the queen in there thats fantastic. If they move back to the swarm trap then I put a simple cardboard box on top so hopefully that will be easier to move them from than the trap. If they really get pissed and try and fly away they’re underneath a tree so hopefully I can catch them again and move them easier next time.
Like they say, if you’re not making mistakes you’re not learning.
Sorry to hear about the difficulties. To get a clump of bees to move quickly with minimal stings, the best action is usually a pretty harsh knock against something. You want them ALL to fall off in one go. If it takes multiple brushes, they get very angry. In this case, I’d probably dump most of the bees into the full size hive, and then bang the rest HARD against the side so they all fall in. I do this all the time when transferring nucs into full size hives.
Yeah, that seems to be the case, the brushing wasn’t working well at all. I think I can position things so that the hive is below something “knockable.” Am I incorrect in thinking that the bees will move to the hive if the queen is in there? THere was some comb on the top bars and I got that moved so I’ve got my fingers crossed.
I think, btw, that you were correct in thinking this was a big swarm. I checked in the hive just now and in the box, I’ve got a huge cluster on one side of the hive, another smaller one on the other side of the hive. I’d guess that the amount of bees in the trap is roughly to slightly less than whats in the hive.
At this point I’d say lessons would be:
Move earlier in the evening so the bees have more time to relocate and help identify where the queen is.
Bees really really dislike being picked up.
Black really does attract more stings than white (I tried putting on a heavy pair of biking gloves, bad idea)
Build a better swarm trap, 2x4s on the outside not inside.
Need better gloves, still waiting on you guys to get them.
Girlfriend really needs a bee suit, then she can help with the hard work.
They should go there if she’s there. Though I’d still try and knock them into the hive if you are able.
We’re really hoping our gloves arrive tomorrow…we’ve got dozens of others in the same boat as you!
So after the disaster of yesterday I’ve been keeping an eye on the situation in my back yard as the day warms up. So far a big clump is starting to develop where the swarm trap used to be, the swarm trap is on the ground next to my top bar hive which has bees cleaning out the inside, lots of bees moving around on the trap. At this point my plan is to let them do their thing during the day, if they keep clumping on the house that’s great, it should be easier to get them off the wall than out of the trap. Then I’ll try and knock the bees that are still in the trap into a box and from there into the hive.
Success! By the end of the day all of the bees had moved into the hive, no brushing or scooping needed. There was some behavior I wasn’t quite sure about though. When I went out to check on the bees I noticed that there was a bit of bearding going on in the entrance:
Is this anything I should be concerned about?
It being nine days later I’m sure you’ve already learned that everything was probably OK. Your photos look a lot like what both of my packages looked like when I first hived them.
How about an update?
As Tango Yankee said, there’s probably not anything to be worried about. Bees often beard on the entrance of the hive.