Can a swarm move in and take over a healthy full size colony?

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Mark Smith
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Can a swarm move in and take over a healthy full size colony?

Postby Mark Smith » Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:56 am

This past Saturday I watched one of my colonies cast a swarm and it landed 50 feet up in a pine tree. No big deal, I decided to just let nature have that one back. The swarm hung all day Saturday and Saturday night in that tree. Sunday morning the swarm was still there. I come home Sunday afternoon and the swarm was gone but there was a large mass of bees hanging on top of one of my largest colonies. Top of the hive not bearding off the bottom. So I figured that if this was that swarm they would move on soon. Nope. If they were robbers they would go home at dusk. Nope. They are still there this morning. So is it possible that since we are in our summer dearth here in North Carolina, is that swarm hanging on that colony slowly robbing it or trying to take it over?

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GregV
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Re: Can a swarm move in and take over a healthy full size colony?

Postby GregV » Mon Jul 10, 2017 2:41 pm

Mark Smith wrote:.......So is it possible that since we are in our summer dearth here in North Carolina, is that swarm hanging on that colony slowly robbing it or trying to take it over?


Don't think they are trying to "take over" anything. They are just attracted by a hive smell.

By the intent, the swarms do not mean to take over anything; especially a big, strong colony - they will not overtake.
However, they can move in with a weak colony that can not push back in force - many cases are documented.
I have seen it myself. A hive holding a weak colony is pretty close to an empty hive in terms of valuable real estate, if you think of it.

Too bad, you did not have an empty swarm trap deployed in your yard (per what it sounds).
They could have just moved into it and save a head ache.
Now I would just collect the swarm, hive them, and be done with it.

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Michael Bush
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Re: Can a swarm move in and take over a healthy full size colony?

Postby Michael Bush » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:06 pm

Wyatt Magnum wrote an interesting article on usurpations. I have watched one once. Here is a description of it by C.C. Miller:

"Q. I had 32 colonies of bees, and I have lost five of them. They will swarm and come out of their own hive and settle on the outside of some of the other hives, and leave their own hives empty, with lots of honey in them. When they settle on the other hives it causes a fight. What makes the bees do this?

A. Bees sometimes seem to have a mania for deserting their hives in spring and trying to force their way into other hives, and it isn't easy to say just why. Some think because they are weak and discouraged. Some think because they have started a lot of brood, and then the old bees have died off so rapidly that enough are not left to cover the brood. In any case the advice given is to have only strong colonies in the fall. This is sound advice on general principles, even if there should be some absconding the following spring in spite of strong colonies. "
--C.C. Miller, A thousand answers to Beekeeping Questions, 1917
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

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GregV
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Re: Can a swarm move in and take over a healthy full size colony?

Postby GregV » Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:35 pm

Sounds as-if the "usurpations" have to do with absconding the existing hive in a fall and trying to join some other existing hive.
Which may have some logic in fall where a colony is better off joining some other bees vs. dying in winter.

The issue above is taking place mid-July, however, for the bees to be so desperate.
Also, it looks as-if a normal swarming event.

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GregV
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Re: Can a swarm move in and take over a healthy full size colony?

Postby GregV » Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:40 pm

Hmm...
I am a big fan of Wyatt too and read his website A-to-Z long ago... Time to revisit.

Anyway, if he says the swarm can "usurp" then it must be so indeed.

http://americanbeejournal.com/summer-sw ... -changing/
https://honeybeesuite.com/usurpation-wh ... r-another/

I think I am going to drop my thinking that summer swarms do not "take over" the hive.
Sounds like they could.

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Michael Bush
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Re: Can a swarm move in and take over a healthy full size colony?

Postby Michael Bush » Tue Jul 11, 2017 5:57 pm

The one I observed was mid June and it started as a swarm that then took over an occupied hive. It was in Massachusetts.
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

Mark Smith
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Re: Can a swarm move in and take over a healthy full size colony?

Postby Mark Smith » Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:30 am

Thank you so much for the replies. I have learned so much the past couple days. My local mentor knows Dr. Mangum through some work they did at NC State. We both think it is a usurpation. The swarm is still there, but much smaller. As it was described to me, the swarm will land even on a healthy colony. Which this one was. And they slowly send in bees to infiltrate the colony until they can replace the guard bees with guard bees from the swarm. Then all bets are off. They will take over slowly. And this is happening. I am fortunate that I'm at home this week and can literally watch the swarm take over and carry out dead bees from the original colony. Dr. Mangum describes the phenomenon in his book. Well, guess what. This is also a trait of Africanized bees. I have a call into my State Apiary Inspector to see if she wants to get a sample. Do I think these bees are Africanized? NO. Just going to make sure. Very amazing thing to watch.

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Michael Bush
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Re: Can a swarm move in and take over a healthy full size colony?

Postby Michael Bush » Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:04 pm

C.C. Miller was describing usurpations in 1917 and there were certainly no AHB here then...
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

Mark Smith
Freshman Beekeeper
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2017 1:25 pm
Location: Locust, North Carolina

Re: Can a swarm move in and take over a healthy full size colony?

Postby Mark Smith » Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:19 am

Michael Bush wrote:C.C. Miller was describing usurpations in 1917 and there were certainly no AHB here then...

I talked to my State Inspector today and she is coming to take a sample next week just to make sure. I really don't think the are AHB but I want to do the right thing and make sure. Plus our State Inspector is awesome and a lot of fun to work colonies with. I have some videos and photos of the swarm that she wants to see.


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