Invading Africanized Swarm

A small swarm of Africanized bees tried to enter and invade one of our European honey bee hives.  This is the second time we have been able to witness this interesting and natural phenomenon. The first time we witnessed a swarm trying to enter a hive was a year ago.

When we arrived at our bee yard and got out of our truck, we were met by a few aggressive bees.  We thought this seemed odd since our gentle honey bees usually don’t chase us unless something is wrong, so we continued as usual to inspect our hives.

We opened up the first 2 hives and everything looked normal – the bees were calm and we saw eggs, a sign that the hives had a queen.  We closed up the hives and moved along to our next set of hives about 25 feet away from the first set.  Within about 10 mins I saw bees swarming – a cloud of bees flying around.

We rushed back over to see what was going on, and found that one hive was being attacked. There was a gathering of bees on the back of the hive and bees in the front of the hive were fighting.

Swarm on back of hive

Swarm gathered on back of the hive.

Bees fighting

Bees fighting

Bees fighting

Bees fighting

Bees fighting

Bees fighting

As my husband took a closer look at the bees gathered on the back of the hive, he saw a queen!  This was the queen from the small swarm.  What are the chances we would see that!

I caught the queen to make sure she would not enter our hive and try to kill our good queen.  In the meantime, the worker bees continued to fight.  I put the queen to the side and after about 15 minutes the swarm gathered around the trapped queen and things started to calm down at our hive.

Africanized queen

Queen from the swarm caught!

Swarm around queen

I put the queen aside and the swarm gathered around her.

As I walked around I found where the swarm originated from in a small tree close to our hives. Africanized bees usually have small swarm clusters that are capable of invading established hives and taking over.  This is part of their natural behavior.

AHB-Swarm-3

Tree where the small swarm was hanging out.

Since the swarm was close by they probably smelled our hives when we opened them up for inspection and were attracted to them.  Before we left, we had to take care of the swarm queen. In order to make sure she would not invade our hive we had to kill her.  Sad, but necessary to protect our hive.

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Fall Swarm

Prior to the Brazilian Pepper honey flow this fall we made a few splits to try and prevent our strong hives from swarming.  That did help us save our old queens, and they are doing just fine.  What we forgot to check on after a week was how many queen cells had been made in the hives we left queenless.  The strongest hive had several queen cells and after the first queen emerged they swarmed. Darn it!

Not to worry, we were prepared and we caught them.  We are not sure if we will leave them as a new hive yet.  We might combine them with another hive after the honey flow so they won’t be weak going into winter.

A Feral Swarm

We came across a small feral swarm this weekend.  At first we weren’t sure if maybe the bees came from one of our hives, so we did some checking.  All hives have a queen? Yes.  Any swarming queen cells? No.  Are we in swarming season? No.

After we determined that all of our hives looked okay, we noticed something else.  There was a battle going on with 2 of our hives.  Bees were fighting and dropping to the ground.  We could only theorize that a feral swarm decided to setup shop nearby, possibly attracted by the smell of our hives, and then they tried to invade our hives. They could have been looking for shelter or to steal honey.

We tried to catch the swarm, but they kept moving around.  They would gather on our fence and then move up into the tree, then back to the fence and back to the tree.

The swarm when we first saw them on our fence and tried to catch them.

This is when they decided to go up in the tree and we tried unsuccessfully to catch them again.

This video is when the bees left the fence and flew up into the tree.

Again? Really!? Yup, they swarmed again!

We almost can’t believe it, but yes, the same hive that just had two swarms had a third one!  So now we have 3 nucs sitting in our yard.

We actually saw when all the action was taking place.  All the bees came out of the existing hive and were flying around our yard, then we saw a large group moving away and towards a palm tree on the other end of the yard.  Sure enough that is where they made their cluster and we were able to easily catch them.