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Robbing - I think?

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Nurse Bee

Joined: 02 Dec 2009
Posts: 46
Location: Northern Ireland, North Coast

PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2016 1:02 pm    Post subject: Robbing - I think? Reply with quote

Not sure if I have a problem or not. I have read all I can find and watched a few on-line videos and I'm still unsure.

I had a strong colony that produced a series of queen cells. I split this last Saturday without any problems. Two colony's created, one with the queen cells, brood/food and attached bees remained in the original location. The spilt with the old queen and brood/food was placed a few meters away with entrance facing in a new direction.

The original hive location with queen cells and has been showing good signs with lots of ongoing activity.

The split (swarmed hive) with the old queen has shown no activity after Saturday which I would expect since the flying bees have gone back to the original location.

Both hives have syrup in inverted jars in a super on the top of the hive. This is not accessible other than through the hive entrance, brood chambers and a super.

Yesterday in the afternoon (good sunny afternoon) the split hive suddenly showed loads of activity. Observing it closely there were some bees flying in with pollen so they belong there. There were some bees hanging about the entrance and lots of bees in the air coming and going. There was some backing and forthing of these bees but when I compared it to the original hive it didn't look much different. I did not open the hive but on taking out the tray underneath the hive I didn't see much sign of what I understand to be robbing debris.

I blocked the entrance right down to two openings just big enough for a bee to come and go and went away. Going back later in the afternoon the activity had settled right down to a few bees coming and going. Today as been raining and it is overcast and both hives just have a few bees being active.

3 Questions
1 - Was this robbing?
2 - Can I do anything else as a precaution?
3 - In the situation of the second hive where it has a Queen, brood and attending bees but no foragers would it reach a point where a lot of bees would suddenly be fit to start foraging at the same time?
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Site Admin

Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1857
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2016 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think what you are seeing is almost certainly the orientation flights of young bees newly promoted to foraging duties as a result of the lack of foragers caused by the split. I think reducing the entrance is a wise precaution for a week or so.
It might have been better to leave the queen on the original site and move most of the brood with the queen cells to another location as the queen needs foragers to bring in pollen to feed brood that she will continue to lay, whereas the queen cells won't need foragers for another couple of weeks or more, by which time they will have naturally developed some.

I'm sure it will all work itself out though..... just be aware that your split with the queen cells may still throw cast swarms as there will be enough flying bees to make it viable since they have all the foragers plus hatching brood.

I have deleted your other post as requested.


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House Bee

Joined: 29 Jun 2015
Posts: 19
Location: Cambridge

PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2016 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simple, by-the-books artificial swarm has old queen in new box on old site. You want foragers plus queen without any brood as this is what happens in a swarm. Nurse bees with brood go on new site. Some nurse bees graduate into foragers and orient on new site (this is what you're seeing I think). Any foragers will return to old box.

The risk with what you've done is you have foragers and nurse bees and brood and queen cells all on original site. The next virgin to emerge may well lead a cast then the next and the next and the next...
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