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Swarm in search of company, but not a home

Swarm prefers leeward side of an apiary tree to a cosy brood box.

Swarm prefers leeward side of an apiary tree to a cosy brood box.

As I approached a newish apiary last weekend, I wondered where any swarms might choose to hang up. I had never seen a swarm leave that apiary before.  I was busy working on the final hive and happened to glance up …

The swarm wasn’t even from my apiary and it had chosen to settle on a tree rather than in a brood box right by it! It must have been there for quite a while as it had left quite a bit of wax on the tree trunk — and the wax traces also showed how the swarm was gradually moving up the trunk.

It was safely hived and is drawing comb to try to quarantine any disease it might be carrying in its honey. That comb will be melted down and the bees can start afresh in a new hive.

I have no idea of the origin of the swarm , but clearly it wanted company by settling in my apiary.

UPDATE 9 June 2015 The swarm was homed by a new beekeeper and is apparently doing well with the queen laying already. A further inspection of my own hives showed conclusively that it wasn’t from my apiary.

Turlough, Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

  • Rog McDerm

    I had the same experience two weeks ago. Swarm from someone else’s apiary came to my apiary. I hived it. It’s been installed for a week now, but no eggs yet. What’s your experience, in how long it takes for a swarm queen to start laying? My post: . Catching & Hiving Large Swarm.

    • Turlough

      In my experience, it can be very variable. If the weather is poor, the virgin won’t be able to get out to mate, so that can cause a delay. If there is too long a delay and she eventually becomes unable to mate. But it’s not always the weather that causes a delay and it can be worth being patient as the queen in the observation hive has demonstrated.

      Turlough, Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

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