A small swarm has moved in to my spare hive. Is there anything I can do to help them establish? (From Smallholder)
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A small swarm has moved in to my spare hive. Is there anything I can do to help them establish?
11:18am Wednesday 18th April 2012 in Q&A
First you need to be sure that you want to keep the swarm. Remember you don't know the origin of the swarm, its genetics, behavior (in terms of aggression), and disease status, and thus allowing it in your apiary is a potential risk. On a flip note, catching swarms is a cost-effective, practical alternative to increasing your apiary and introducing new genetics.
If there are some frames with comb in the spare hive and that's the hive you had planned for them to stay in, then all that's needed is to keep a good eye on the colony, checking to see that sufficient feed stores are building up and that brood are developing. If you think they need feeding to get them through this initial period then sugar syrup would be beneficial.
On the other hand If the swarm has just recently arrived and you would prefer them in another hive then there are a couple of methods of getting them to change home, either by running them up a board to the new hive, or simply shaking them in.
This is best done in the evening, as the bees will be more likely to stay in the hive. Sometimes the swarm may decide it doesn't like its new home and leave. You can attempt to stop them leaving by placing a queen excluder between the floor and the brood box, this prevents the queen from being able to leave, and if the queen cannot leave neither will the bees, but remember to remove the excluder the next day.
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