• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

just caught a swarm... suggestions for overwintering?

 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 699
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
18
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hi all,
we got a phone call a few weeks ago that some friends bees had swarmed. i just happen to have a spare top bar hive, so we went and got the bees.
there werent as many bees as a "package", but i would still guessitmate there was still 1-2 lbs of bees.

we got them into their new hive and have started feeding them. after a few weeks, i checked and verified the bees were still in there. i havent seen the queen, partially because they are starting to crosscomb so im not able to see much.
there are some flowers (weeds) still in bloom and i have seen pollen in the the combs so it looks like they are gonna stick around.

im pretty sure they will not get enough stores to make it through the winter - so my question is, what can i do to help them? is feeding the only option? we have left over fondant and syrup from the bees we added this spring, but i am not sure that is the answer...

any suggestions?

** i thought about taking a few bars from my other top bar hive, but it appears to be to cross combed to do that **
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3356
Location: woodland, washington
75
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
a couple of options come to mind. you could just let them be. you're probably right about them not making it through the winter, but you just never know. and if they don't, you've got some useful comb that you could add to your other hive if there's room, or leave it in an empty hive as bait for swarm season next year.

you could also try uniting them with another colony. at the simplest, uniting colonies amounts to putting them in the same place and letting them sort it out. that can be a rather violent affair, and there's a reasonably good chance that the smaller colony will just leave. putting some sort of partition between the two for at least a while improves the odds of a more peaceful outcome. sounds like you're using horizontal hives, so the usual vertical hive method of placing a couple of sheets of newspaper between the two colonies might not be a simple affair. a follower board with plenty of smaller-than-a-bee holes drilled in it would let them get used to each others' smells and be less likely to wage war on each other when the partition is removed after a suitable time.

you could keep feeding them, but at some point it will get too cold for them to evaporate any syrup you give them. you could give them fondant through the winter, but I don't think stores will be their only problem. you'll also have a low population to deal with and a likelihood that the queen (if she's there at all [and had a chance to breed]) won't be able to lay enough eggs to maintain a functional population through the winter. and if she can lay enough, are there enough workers to keep the eggs adequately warm?
 
Tracy Kuykendall
Posts: 165
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You'll never learn to save a colony until you've saved one!
 
Troy Rhodes
Posts: 573
21
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
They will have two big problems getting through their first winter.

1. Not enough food. I would definitely feed such a late swarm. They also may not have enough space to store the food? How much/many frames/bars do they have that are full sized comb?


2. Not enough bees to keep warm. The bigger the ball of bees, the less surface area they have per pound of bees. If you had a bunch of Langstroth hives, you could stack 6 together, with the little one surrounded to help them conserve energy. You could also insulate their hive.


It will be an adventure for you and the bees. If they make it, they probably have good genes for surviving winter that's for sure.


Good luck!
 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 699
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
18
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
thanks everyone.

they dont even have a full top bar of comb yet.

i think we will just keep feeding them and hope they make it.
there may be a point where if it costs more to feed them, than to get a new package of bees, i may be better off just letting them die.
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic