Diary of a swarm of honey bees caught in a bait hive and housed in a Warré hive (W10).
21 June 2009
Activity was observed at two bait hives near the main apiary, but efforts failed to locate any swarm that might have emerged.
22 June 2009
Around mid morning, intense activity was seen at one of the two bait hives. Searches for the swarm further afield revealed it hanging in a tree over an adjacent field. The beekeeper, on returning with a ladder, heard the swarm on the move. It was taking possession of the bait hive, 27 metres away from the branch it had settled on. The sky was overcast throughout, but had brightened somewhat shortly before the swarm took to the air.
This was a prime swarm from a conventional frame hive (National). It thus had a mated queen. She was reared in 2008.
Swarm arriving at the bait hive site.
Swarm settling on and near the bait hive and starting to run in.
(Above) Late morning 22 June 2009: Bees running into the bait hive entrance which is in the centre just above the bottom of the hive. Bees can be seen just above the entrance with their tails in the air and light patches showing. They are emitting pheromones to attract other bees in the swarm to the entrance. One such bee can be seen standing alone near the bottom right hand corner of the front of the hive. In this instance it can be seen that the bee is the fanning the pheromone away with its wings. This bee is attracting the rest of the swarm to the landing site.
21.30 pm on 22 June 2009: The above photo shows the bait hive lid lifted just prior to running the swarm into a Warré hive. Most of the bees are hanging from the crown board and the rest are on the piece of comb in a plastic frame or on the walls. The bait hive weighed 5.9 kg before the swarm arrived and 8.1 kg afterwards. The swarm therefore weighed 2.2 kg, an ideal weight for starting a Warré hive.
At dusk on the day the swarm was caught, a 3-box Warré hive was prepared with a board covered in a sheet and sloping from the ground up to the hive entrance. The bees were shaken off the crown board of the bait hive onto the sheet by the entrance of the Warré hive. The bees immediately began running in to the Warré. Bees on the frame and sides of the bait hive were shaken onto the sheet.
17 minutes later, most of the swarm is in the Warré hive. The frame of comb, already filled with honey or nectar by the swarm when it entered the bait hive, is placed beside the hive so that it can be emptied by the bees first thing in the morning. The hive is sufficiently far from other apiaries to minimise the risk of triggering a robbing incident.
14 minutes later the board and sheet are removed as soon as the last stragglers have crawled off them. The swarm was left for the night to sort itself out. Three boxes were used because the original intention was to put the plastic frame in the bottom of the hive, but as most of the bees were on the crown board when it was lifted off, this plan was abandoned and the extra box (light coloured) was removed the following day.
23 June 2009: 500 g sugar was given as syrup. Ideally the feed should be a syrup made from honey, but the beekeeper's stocks of honey were exhausted and it would be too risky to use honey from other sources.
24 June 2009: The feeder was removed. Not a trace of syrup was left. Foraging bees were already bringing pollen into the hive. The advantage of populating the hive with a mated queen is that she will start laying as soon as the bees have made some comb. That pollen is coming in is a sign that all is well with the queen. The hive was reduced to two boxes with windows.
8 July 2009: The bees had constructed 4 combs on the east side of box 2, the third in reaching almost to the floor.
Diary of a swarm taken from a tree and housed in a Warré hive (W12)
30 June 2009: A swarm was found in the afternoon in a tree 375 metres from this apiary, shaken into a cardboard box and transported in the evening to this apiary with a wire mesh over the entrance to the box. At the apiary it was run into a 2-box Warré hive in a similar manner to that above.
8 July 2009: After a week of cooler rainy weather the colony had about half built up the top box and was foraging vigorously. Meadowsweet and bramble pollen were seen coming in.
Heaf's bee index