Last Sunday, 5/1/2016 was the first hiving of trapped swarms for the season. I hadn’t planned on doing it, but the weather conditions turned out perfect and I had opportunity. The transfers went as follows Trap02 to 1602, Trap30 to 1603, and Trap10 to 1604. Keep track of where you catch swarms and what happens to the resulting colonies. Over time patterns will emerge. It seems like the same locations produce overwintering bees consistently for me. Focus on catching bees that are productive. Don’t waste time catching and hiving bees that consistently fail to overwinter. All three of these were caught in proven trapping grounds with high(er) likelihood of overwintering.
Trap02 was about 1.5 miles from the house, Trap30 picked up a swarm one day in the parking lot while I was at work, and Trap10 got HIT while setting beside the shed awaiting deployment. Pollen was observed entering all 3 Traps prior to relocation. They were all moved before daylight on Saturday 4/30 to the Hive Site. The site was chosen for 2 reasons: First it’s about the best habitat I have access to as far as honeybees are concerned. They have access to 100’s of acres of pasture as well as many of the important flowering trees that occur here. Secondly it is fairly close, easy to get to, and I have good relationship with the Hive Host. There are some other “good” yards, but they are farther away. I want to keep a good eye on these bees. They are primary swarms and I will want to watch them come July. Later colonies will be placed in yards farther away once this site is filled up. I prefer to hive multiple traps at one time in one location to minimize driving around.
The contents of each trap were put in the TOP BOX of each 2 box stack. The bottom box has only 10 foundationless frames in it. I make the transfers as quickly as possible. Though I make an effort to glance at the combs to see if I can observe developing larvae in the cells I DO NOT waste time looking for queens. I know she’s there if there is a good pattern of brood developing in regularly-shaped WORKER COMB. They have much work to do, and I want them focusing on foraging as soon as possible.
Provided these bees are alive and kicking next Spring they will get another deep nadired under them and some honey supers. It is oftentimes hard to pick a horse when hiving a trapped swarms. Even after doing this for 5 years hives continue to surprise me. It’s not always the biggest, or most active, or colony with the most stores that overwinters the best. It’s why I don’t like taking chances with poor selections. I hive every swarm I catch and do not combine them.
Back in 2012 I caught a swarm in my BEST LOCATION that had few bees. It had been in the trap for several days and was NOT bringing in pollen. I saw no larvae while hiving them. I WAS STANDING THERE THINKING ABOUT SHAKING THE FRAMES OUT ON THE GROUND! But went ahead and hived them. They became 1210 a colony that has never been fed or treated and has been a good producer for me. I believe I had caught a virgin queen and it took her a little time to get going. I prefer to allow the site to make my primary selections and then to work from there.
It is important to evaluate locations you plan to move bees. If the floral numbers and diversity ARE NOT adequate, find a better location. The better your plan the greater chance you have of success.
Good luck and get going.
Questions / Comments
P.S. – When you have a CATCH and take the trap down, take an empty trap to replace it. Hang that thing as soon as you get the other one down. There could be others.