Midday last Friday my wife called reporting a swarm in process. The entire event from departure to cluster is really amazing to watch. This time I was 90 miles away. I arrived around 5 PM to find them clustered less than two feet off the ground in our Japanese Snow Bell. Talk about an effortless catch right into a empty hive from a winter loss.
Timing was perfect since I needed to shift the host hive. This created the opportunity for that, an inspection and creating a home for the swarm.
In the host colony I found a single frame with four capped queen cells. Then I found another with a couple occupied but uncapped queen cells. Dumbfounded that I never thought of this before, I put the first frame into another winter loss with a few frames from a strong hive for an instant split. Since success with a single queen cell is high, I can't imagine failure with three queen cells or the need for six. I also suspect the swarming process always leaves plenty of queen cells behind. Why I never before took advantage of this is beyond me.
A couple years ago I had a hive that repeatedly threw ever smaller swarms over several days until all were gone. Thinking about the capped and uncapped queen cells above, I wonder if they plan multiple swarms by timing emergence of queens. One thing I know. We know much less about bees than there is to learn.