Managing Large Swarm in Nuc

Learn how to manage nucs, and how they can add to your beekeeping success.
Sunflower State Karen
Freshman Beekeeper
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Joined: Sat May 30, 2015 4:27 pm
Location: Kansas

Managing Large Swarm in Nuc

Postby Sunflower State Karen » Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:13 pm

I am a Topbar beekeeper. My colonies are strong and produce large numbers of bees. This swarm is from a heavily populated hive (which by the way, has rebounded into another really heavily populated hive) about a month ago and it was so large that they didn't all fit in the nuc that I had set as a swarm trap in my beeyard. It is in a breezeway protected all around by cedars but open in the front, an excellent location, I would think.

I waited because by the time I realized they were not all going in the box, they were beyond the swarm stage and setting up housekeeping. I figured if I tried to move the box from its perch at that stage all those bees were just going to go in the air, and actually there are fewer bees on the outside than there were. Trust me, they are working the inside of the box, heavy flow of bees in and out that door.

Next plan was to just let them swarm again and resolve their own problem, but hmmm, they have had time to do so and did not and really seem quite content. As you can see, they have now started building comb on the outside of the box. I guess at this point I will wait for a late swarm or let the numbers dwindle in the fall, harvest the outside honey and decide whether to winter in the nuc or move them into a hive.

My question....what options did I miss here? How should I have managed this issue? I took the easy route of "when in doubt, do nothing" (was it Michael Bush who said that...probably didn't mean in this circumstance).
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nuc swarm
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2017-07-09 14.30.47.jpg
nuc swarm2
2017-07-09 14.30.47.jpg (913.98 KiB) Viewed 450 times

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GregV
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Re: Managing Large Swarm in Nuc

Postby GregV » Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:28 am

Well, you are lucky they did not abscond from such a small trap. They often just leave if the space is too small. :D

Anyway, of course, you should have moved them into a larger hive ASAP.
Now - it would likely make a terrible case of a cut-out if you look inside, I would not do it.
Especially with the frame-less TBH.
I say just let them be as-is and they will be a good swarm generator for your traps.

In future - should really upgrade from the trap into a bigger box ASAP (if needed).
A small swarm could actually just stay in a trap.

This is what I just did tonight - moved a large swarm from 40 liter trap into about 80 liter bigger hive.
They were too tight in 40 liters. You could just tell..

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SiWolKe
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Re: Managing Large Swarm in Nuc

Postby SiWolKe » Mon Jul 10, 2017 5:05 pm

I would build a shelter around them, overwinter them and relocate them in spring after first brood emerged.
Do a cutout then and split the bees in two parts or more, depending on the density.

Nice picture, thanks!
Civility is strength. http://www.VivaBiene.de

Sunflower State Karen
Freshman Beekeeper
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat May 30, 2015 4:27 pm
Location: Kansas

Re: Managing Large Swarm in Nuc

Postby Sunflower State Karen » Thu Jul 13, 2017 5:08 pm

Thanks to you both for your suggestions. It is interesting, this swarm had easy access to two larger hives, similar in construction, just larger, and all had the same type old bar of comb inside as an enticement....and yet they chose the smallest box. I suppose maybe it is an example of height being important as the smaller swarm trap was higher in the air than the two empty hives.....only difference I can see. Perhaps the smaller box being a little more protected on the side and back, but the front approach the same for all.

The trouble with putting a larger swarm trap up high is the retrieval process (which is where the suggestion to immediately move them to something larger...and ha, down lower...would come into play.)

From your identification photos it looks like at least one of you might be horizontal deep beekeeper? I'm reading about that. Part of the reason I went with the top bar style was the "no lifting" in maintaining it. Appears to me with horizontal deep I could maintain that advantage and yet have a frame supporting the entire comb. I don't have any comb drop off on its own, they anchor it to the sides when it becomes heavy, but I do have to be very careful working with that heavy comb once I free it from the sides with my breadknife.

Again, thanks for your thoughts.

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GregV
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Re: Managing Large Swarm in Nuc

Postby GregV » Thu Jul 13, 2017 5:39 pm

Sunflower State Karen wrote:......at least one of you might be horizontal deep beekeeper? I'm reading about that... .


I am.
See my relevant rants under the Layens' hive areas.
This year I am being slammed by my expansion and so keep making all kinds of ad-hoc equipment just to stay afloat.
One thing I have been doing - making the "northern-style" top bars (see under the Trap hives) as I often need frames and don't have them.
This works fine if in a pinch.


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