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Do swarm attractants work?

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freckledbeck 

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Hi, We are new to beekeeping, my partner and I did a 12 week course last year and I have also done 2 practical sessions but not got any bees yet.....(we are members of the local beekeepers association tho)
We have 4 empty hives through our allotment association, and we have 2 nucs on order, but I was wondering if we could use the hormone that attracts bees into our empty hives? Would this work? Is this stealing?
The view of our local beekeepers seem to be buying 'pure' nucs and 'pure' queens is the way to go, not stocking with swarms or 'local' strains of bees, but my instinct is that local bees could well be better adapted to local conditions, more disease resistant, and better at living in our area than the foriegn queens and nucs. (the nucs we have on order are developed from italian bees, I think?) In fact during our last practical session, the beekeeper examining the (very healthy and quiet) hive said he was going to kill the queen as she was producing 'too many queen cups' -isnt that her job?
But I have no real experience, so my theories could be a load of rubbish!
Any advice would be gratefully received, and listened to. Thanks
 

wbchive 

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Luring a swarm is very hit and miss - usually miss. If you're new to beekeeping 2 nucs will be enough to keep you busy, any more colonies might become a chore rather than a pleasure.
 

oliver90owner 

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Welcome to the forum.

I started with 4 full colonies. It may be better to start with a small colonies and grow in confidence as they each grow into a full colony. Ymmv, and if you have had sufficient practical handling experience you will know your level of confidence etc, and know what back-up help is available if, or rather when, you get into trouble.

You would only attract swarms already lost by another beek (unless you are naughty, and set up bait hives next to an apiary) or from other sources (ferals).

You may not know the provenance, health or docility of any swarm captured, so yes 'pure' might be a better option for starters but you may be right about local strains (or they might be crosses with those 'pure' ones)

The pheromone lures must work or they are being sold fraudulently!

Some say lemon grass oil is a good substitute for the swarm lures.

You should have said 'Please don't kill her. please may I have her (along with a few bees) please, please, please.'

Just be aware, as new beeks, that some colonies can behave anti-socially toward other allotment holders at times. Have a alternative home ready for them, away from the public, if there is any risk of by-standers getting stung or harassed.

Regards, RAB
 

Cazza 

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Hi Freckledbeck and welcome to the forum.

Swarm lures have worked well for me. I'm trying lemongrass this year and there certainly are more bees inspecting the bait hive since I added the lemongrass. Time will tell.

Cazza
 

Rosti 

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Freckledbeck welcome.
RAB has already given you a concise summary but recognising I am only a 2nd year beek I would still like to touch on one advantage of swarms - they are free!
Consideration of your neighbours and their safety on the allotment is a priority but whilst the purchase of a nuc / box of bees does not necessarily gaurantee a colony of good disposition, it will always guarantee you have paid a premium. Purchase of replacement queens from recommended sources on the otherhand probably gives greater confidence since the likely character of the prodginy are better known from sister queens (recommended to you by other beeks).
For some situations having brood / eggs available from another hive may be essential for your chosen course of action. Housing a swarm (perhaps as a second colony next to 'pedigree' purchase) - or even hiving now in anticipation of a prime colony purchase and building your experience as the colonies do the same as part of your start-up strategy doesn't feel that bad to me, but a 'plan B' location as RAB has said feels sensible. Having got your 'bait hive' colony you can always re-queen it before winter for £20 rather than £120! Don't do what I did and go into winter with one colony, you are too restricted come the next spring.
Bait hives have worked well for me (3/3) but I suspect that a lure can only enhance the chances of a well sited and set-up bait hive, not compensate for a poor one. There are a couple of other threads on here about bait hive set-up.
 

freckledbeck 

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Thanks for the warm welcome and all of the above advice!
Yes, we thought 2 nucs would probably be enough to start with, but I am worried about losing them. (have read/heard of horror stories re ccd!) Thats why I thought a more local strain may be more hardy and disease resistant. I also like the idea of 'native' bees even tho I suppose the honeybees in this country arent really native any more?
The allotments are round the corner from our house, so are very close, and we will be keeping chickens there soon, so I will be up there at least twice a day to keep a close eye on things.
We have a very active and supportive local beekeepers group, who give me the impression we can call on them if/when we get into a pickle.
Also it does seem a shame to have 2 hives empty (we as an allotment group bought 4 hives for allotment holders to use, but no one other than us has shown any serious interest) and with the price of bees being so high a free swarm is very attractive!
Our plot is on the end, facing into a field which is where the hives will be facing, which will (hopefully) keep the bees away from other plotholders as much as possible. I will try and handle the hive/bees when the site is empty so as to minimise potential agression towards other plotholders. We were also given money to buy suits for other plotholders (adults and children) who may be interested in learning about bees, and everyone we have spoken to about the project is very happy for the bees to be there. (at the moment anyway! :eek:) )
 

freckledbeck 

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Thanks, I think we are progressive!! :eek:D
I just hope the bees settle in and behave themselves...........
 

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