A Feral Swarm on Foundationless Frames

by Ginny. 0 Comments

Philip called me mid day yesterday, he had captured a swarm by the Snohomish River.

It was Mother’s Day, Sunday, we were already headed home so it could not have happened at a better time.

We combined the two weak hives by removing the nearly empty second brood box from each. At the same time we swapped some of the moldiest frames so we could get a good cleanup done at the same time. What we are left with is a very healthy hive with a sufficient population. And 2 queens to boot. Wish I could watch the drama. We put a sheet of newspaper between the 2 brood chambers. They will chew through the paper in a few days. The queen from the top chamber will usually win out, I’ve heard. Hive4 was placed on top of ‘Oceanic815′.

The next step was to cut out the centers of the plastic frames. We removed the old brood nest comb, and used a few different methods to cut the centers out of the frames, leaving about 1/4 inch of the foundation at the top as a starter. We wondered if they would use the cell size remnant to base their foundationless cell size on. We only broke one frame out of the 20 cutouts we did.

It was dark when Philip arrived with the swarm. He had placed them in a cardboard box with a piece of burlap taped to the top. I did not want to mess with them in the dark. Although swarming bees are very unlikely to become aggressive, I have heard¬† stories of bees extremely disgruntled at being disturbed at night and didn’t want to experience it myself. So we just lowered the cardboard box into the empty hive box on top of the waiting hive, opened the top of the cardboard box, put the hive cover on, and left them for the night.

This morning, Gavin and I got out early before work and dumped them into the lower box with the waiting cut-out plastic frames.

We brushed the bees from the blackberry branches they were clinging to, and removed the beautiful little 3″ piece of comb they had built in the cardboard box overnight.

Then we installed the hive feeder with 1:1 sugar water. The bees look healthy and it is a good sized swarm.

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