Catching the swarm, conclusion

Final score.
Bees – 4
Me – 0

This swarm apparently simply does not want to be caught. Even with a good soaking of sugar water, they won’t clump well and fall into the hive. Instead, the inner core breaks out and they all start flying around, landing back on the trunk of the tree and crawling up to wherever the queen is. If I’d managed to get her in the damn box, they would have happily crawled in, but it seems the pieces of the swarm I did manage to knock down did not have her in it. I left the hive out anyway, as there’s a storm rolling up, and perhaps they’ll be smart enough to take cover in the hive. Or, perhaps they’ll give me a final “fuck you” and fly off somewhere else.

What this means going forward is that I need to disassemble some of the older hives to check for swarm cells, food stores, and so on, as we head into the end of the season. I know this swarm did not come from the five new package hives because the queens in those are clipped (that is, one wing has been cut, so they cannot fly). When those queens need to be superceded, the bees will build a queen cup, and when the new queen hatches, the old one will be dispatched by her. The old hives, however, I’ve allowed to supercede as needed, and I have not requeened each year. Overall, I prefer to keep the genetics going of the bees that have survived in our particular climate. In this case, the old queen will swarm out of the hive with a bunch of workers, leaving the rest of the bees to take care of the new queen. The question is: which of those hives did this swarm come from? The answer involves backbreaking work to look into the older hives, to check for swarm cells in hives that might be thinking about swarming – in which case, they need to be split, with some bees, food, and brood (with at least one egg that is one to three days old, as the bees need that to create a new queen) moved to another hive body. I might be able to tell from which hive this swarm originated during the inspection process and determine why they swarmed.

So, my shitty week remains the same. Swell.

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