Clip queen's wing and Nuc under hive to catch swarms? [Archive] - Beesource Beekeeping Forums

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01-24-2012, 06:34 AM
Hello All,

My hive is in the back yard in a residential area. I will be doing swarm prevention methods as well, but to prevent swarms causing issues, what do you think about clipping one of the queen's wings and having the hive on a stand high enough to place a 5 frame Nuc underneath?

So since the queen can hardly fly, landing on the ground, the swarm would go into the Nuc instead. I would then be able to see when they have swarmed and deal with the queen cells in the original hive.

Does anyone have experience with this?

Matthew Davey

David LaFerney
01-24-2012, 06:44 AM
I have no idea if it would work like that, but if it does (even every once in a while) it's a danged fine idea. Even if the swarm didn't just march into the nuc if you found them (I've found swarms on the ground in my apiary that had queens that were not clipped - a big fat queen just doesn't fly that well) at least you would have it handy to use.

People are apt to give all kinds of reasons why that probably won't work, but until someone tries it...

01-24-2012, 07:36 AM
Id think it would work well. ONly thing that would bee a down side is could she climb out? But i like the idea !

Charlie B
01-24-2012, 10:19 AM
I had a similar idea when I first started and I was told that clipping queen wings would increase the potential for her to be superceded. Secondly, when a hive swarms, they almost always swarm away from the original hive any where from 50 to 100 ft. in a cluster then start looking for a new home.

The Professor
01-24-2012, 12:00 PM
She or the others might not go into the nuc. I had an attempted swarm with a clipped queen. The swarm was high up in a neighbor's tree. After 30 minutes or an hour, they realized the queen wasn't with them and all went back into the original hive. One of the coolest things I've seen in beekeeping was the whole face of the hive covered with bees and all of them dutifully marching into the hive. An hour or two later I saw a bundle of 8 or 10 bees about 4 feet from the hive. Right in the middle was my marked and clipped queen. I put her back in the hive, which was a mistake. She evidently was superceded shortly thereafter because I never saw her again. A couple of weeks or so later, the hive swarmed again, this time successfully. I had cut out queen cells (another mistake) and then went for a time being queenless.

My point is that if you clip the queen, the initial swarm might not follow the queen onto the ground or into the nuc. If they sense she's not with them, they may return to the hive and she may just end up on the ground. If I hadn't seen my queen on the ground, I doubt she would have made it into a nuc or much of anywhere. She probably would have just died out in the open. It may not be evident if your hive swarmed because the swarm may return once they realize the queen isn't with them. Thus, you'd just have to be lucky to happen to see them when they attempted to swarm and lucky to find your queen on the ground somewhere.

I think a better idea would be to split them prior to them thinking they needed to swarm, or to otherwise supress the swarm drive by giving them plenty of open cells in the brood nest.

Cleo C. Hogan Jr
01-24-2012, 02:54 PM
If you clip her wing, the bees will likely supercede her as a damaged queen, which is what also happens very often with marked queens. Better idea is to give them plenty of room before your major honey flow, and if they are building up too fast, or becomming honeybound, then split the hive so they have room.

My recommendation is to prevent swarming rather than clipping, marking queens and trying to catch swarms.


dirt road
01-25-2012, 10:17 AM
OP already mentioned that some swarm prevention methods would be in place. Clipping a queen does not automatically result in her being superceded. It is practiced often and with success by those who do it correctly. As long as one didn't need to purchase any kind of special equipment to try it, I think the worst that could happen would be nothing, which is exactly what would happen if you didn't try the idea. I suggest you give it a try, and post your results, whether good, or bad, and any thoughts on why it either failed or succeeded.

Michael Bush
01-25-2012, 06:38 PM
I've had plenty of clipped and not clipped queens. I see no difference in supersedure or swarming. I think it's a brilliant idea. Don't know if it will work, but it might. Typically a clipped queen tries to fly, ends up on the ground and crawls back into the hive. I don't know what she would do if the hive is inconvenient and the nuc is convenient, but it is reasonable to assume she may move in. A little lemongrass essential oil and some old comb might seal the deal. Let us know how it goes.

01-25-2012, 06:56 PM
my thoughts are you might better spend time for the 2-3 weeks during the swarming period to check for cells to prevent the swarm from happening. they are not going to swarm until they have cells started.

01-25-2012, 07:24 PM
You are concentrating on the old clipped queen. What about the 1, or 2... or 6.. or more virgins? The best practice is swarm prevention, not emergency swarm control. Especially in the city, the hive will need to be managed to prevent swarms.

Cleo C. Hogan Jr
01-26-2012, 05:33 AM
You are talking about damaging an established queen by marking or clipping her, versus, introducing a marked or clipped queen into a queenless hive. cchoganjr

01-26-2012, 06:24 AM
Thanks for all your comments.

Having the Nuc available also means if the swarm gets further away from the hive, you have a Nuc ready to go and catch it. Or any other local swarms for that matter.

I realise there would be virgin queens on the, way but this gives me notice that they are, by seeing the Nuc having bees flying in and out of it. Useful when you come home from work to indicate to you that they have swarmed! You can then deal with the remaining queen cells, leaving one or two of the best cells, or do a split.

The main thing is that it means you don't loose the first major swarm. So you can recombine later and hopefully get a honey harvest. Or make a new hive.

I have only just introduced the new queen to a queenless Nuc, so it's not likely to be this season they would be looking to swarm. (Summer here.)

Cleo C. Hogan Jr
01-27-2012, 05:46 PM
I hope everyone realizes the implications, and possible applications of MattDavey's question. I would love to see a controlled experiment on this subject. Perhaps a significant paper for Master Beekeeper Certification, or College Course.

lf his system, as he explains it, were to work, it would revolutionize swarm control, because the accepted method to insure that you catch any swarms would become, l. Clip all your queens, 2. Place a nuc underneath. Obviously, practice good swarm control to prevent swarming, but, if they swarm anyway, you would catch any swarms because the queen could not fly, and she goes in the Nuc, and the bees follow her into the nuc.. 3. Move nuc after swarm goes in.

I will say right up front, I don't have any data to support my belief, but, I don't believe it will work. (But also let me say, it isn't going to hurt anything, (except I just don't like to clip queens.) So, if it works only occassionally, all you lose is some idle equipment ( the nucs you would have under your hives).

I have always believed that clipped and marked queens are more likely to be superceded naturally by the bees, than those not clipped or marked. However, in private conversation with Michael Bush, whom I highly respect, he says his experience does not validate my belief, and that he sees no difference in marked/unmarked, clipped/not clipped queens. So, maybe, clipping a queen in an active hive will not make any difference. So maybe I am wrong, I don't know.

This is pure speculation on my part, but I believe what is more likely to happen in this situation is, the bees, being in Swarm Mode, will exit the hive, circling, waiting, for the queen to exit, and when she falls to the ground or on top of the nuc, unable to fly away from the parent hive, the swarm will ball up a few feet or a few hundred feet from the parent hive, and when the queen cannot be found, the bees will return to the hive, abandon that queen that cannot fly, and wait for one or more of the virgin queens in the parent hive to emerge and then swarm later, (the next time Swarm Mode occurs) with one of those queens. Since there are normally several queens made, one would stay with the parent hive, and one or more would emerge with swarms, which by now might be totally, differently, configured since at least a few days will have passed.

This could be a very, very, interesting experiment, if the results from this experiment, can be duplicated in subsequent experiments, which is necessary to validate any conclusions. MattDavey... I would love to know the results and conclusions of your experiment. Just because it has never been done before, does not mean, it will not happen. Just because I don't think it will work, certainly doesn't mean it won't. cchoganjr

03-12-2012, 06:54 PM
thanks for the idea!! I have a few 2011 Glenn Apiaries Inseminated clipped and marked queens I have overwintered and that trick will be a little insurance if the hives should swarm, I might not lose her.

I paid more than a few dollars for them..would be nice to keep them around as long as possible.

Charlie B
03-12-2012, 08:32 PM
I paid more than a few dollars for them..would be nice to keep them around as long as possible.

Put her in a Starbucks hive and screen in the drive through, she won't leave!