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SJH 

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Yesterday during a warm spell, I saw what I thought was swarming behavior, can someone advise? Approximately fifty bees collected on the porch, with a further fifty circling above, but also a number were doing the initial circling flight, increasing to a few hundred in 30 minutes. Rain stopped play and they went back in and were quiet for the remainder of the afternoon.

Were they trying to swarm (or just getting a bit over excited)? Below is my situation, any advice please on what I should do (be nice I have L-plates).

Summary
I haven’t found any queen cells (only empty cups), the queen is ’09 and I have had them for six weeks now. The frames are 75% drawn, with <50% brood in various stages in the centre of frames).

Long
The weather has been poor, very heavy rain and strong winds, mean they have not been out much over the past two weeks. The queen is A.m.mellifera, the workers are mongrels of mellifera, ligustica, etc. They are in a WBC hive with only the main brood body of ten frames. I check the hive weekly, from the beginning they made queen cups on two frames, which I remove, but each week they make them a new. I am yet to see any eggs or development to queen cells, (no extension, eggs or royal jelly). The nuc was packed full, considerably more than others I have seen, so I thought immediately there might be an overcrowding issue. When I transferred them I put one empty frame on the end, the five in the middle and the other four at the other end. From the nuc there were five frames with brood, the new five frames now have comb drawn out on most frames, the two ends are partially drawn, with little on the brood body wall sides. The Queen (marked) is laying, which are in various stages, eggs, young and pupa. Workers have been emerging from capped cells during inspections. There are a few drones (two weeks) and few drone cells away from the centre. Of the central frames; there is honey at the top, with brood in the centre of the frames, surrounded by pollen stores. Yesterday there were not many larvae, mostly capped worker brood. She is laying but there are not many eggs. Comb where workers have hatched is not being reused; she lays around the perimeter areas increasing the size. I am thinking she is not laying much because there isn't a great deal of food being collected. I haven’t seen any robbers / wasps.
 

jon 

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What you describe sounds like new bees orientating to the hive.
 

mark s 

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mine do that everyday bout the same time,but not in those numbers,i was worried bout swarming but the nuc has only been in my hive less than a week.
we did notice a supercedure cell on 1 of the frames when we transfered them.
should i be worried as well bout swarming??
 

Poly Hive 

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Playflights is my take.

Swarming (high risk statement here) is now rather unlikely.

Please do not confuse the presence of cups with swarming intent. It is only a full on intent when there is a larvae in the cup.

PH
 

admin 

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Mark,you will often find playcups on frames.

I dont bother removing them as the bee's will just make more.

Sometimes when you inspect the queen will of laid in one or two,its still nothing to worry about as the bees will remove the egg.

You only need to worry when you see the cups have food in the bottom of them,thats the time to act.

Regards THE sjh post I think they are play flights.
They will often get higher and then start to circle at speed.
I have noticed this most in bees that have Italian genes in them.

If you look very close you will notice that the bees form the shape of a wax cell as they dance ? anyone like to comment on my last statement.
 

SJH 

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Brilliant thanks everyone, it was quite unnerving the first time I had seen that behavoir on that scale.
 

Finno 

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An apparent frenzy like this often occurs around the hive - particularly if the bees have been confined and then a warm period occurs. It usually lasts for a short time and then the normal rhythm of activity resumes. I have always assumed it is a mixture of cleansing and orientation flights by new field workers and drones. Queen cups are found at all times and are of no significance unless larvae is present when they are then referred to as a queen cells.
 

oliver90owner 

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I haven’t found any queen cells

If that means 'there are no QCs, now' they will not swarm - well at least not for another week. Seriously I would go with orientating flights.

Your colony, headed by a young queen with plenty of space and not much stores is unlikely to be leaving. You might want to rearrange the frames next to the wall to encourage the bees to draw them both sides (but not into the brood nest) and be ready to drop on a super.... especially if you are intending to over-winter on a brood and a half? Better to have frames ready to be drawn (I presume you have only super foundation) than be too late and lose time.

Do you have a mentor? Some drawn frames make things so much easier for your first year.

I think I would be feeding them to encourage the queen to keep laying and the young bees to keep drawing comb. The more bees you have by the end of the year the better.

Hope this helps.

Regards, RAB
 

ribblesbees 

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Also thanks for a) the question (saves me asking it :))and b) your answers as I have noticed this happening and wondered. Due to time scales and that it tends to happen after a period of inclement weather, I thought maybe it was new foragers getting out for the first time. Its nice to get reassurance that this is normal and probably not the worst case scenario of a swarm preparation.

bee-smillie
 

SJH 

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Edits ... and be ready to drop on a super.... especially if you are intending to over-winter on a brood and a half? Better to have frames ready to be drawn (I presume you have only super foundation) than be too late and lose time.

Do you have a mentor? Some drawn frames make things so much easier for your first year.

I think I would be feeding them to encourage the queen to keep laying and the young bees to keep drawing comb. The more bees you have by the end of the year the better.
Thanks as well. I have now read up more on this and it describes it very well.

Understood on feeding, supers and drawing comb. I was trying to be patient and move at their pace. I am not implying you are saying to rush it, I would rather they foraged and grew rather than me pushing them to increase rapidly. But I do have super foundation ready to go.
 

oliver90owner 

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You only have one shot at getting them strong for the winter. Some of us simply unite, swap brood frames or stores, as necessary to achieve the required picture before winter. You do not have that cushion with only one colony. Too late is to late!

Regards, RAB
 

SJH 

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Thanks for the info.
 

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