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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My strong hive (of 2 hives) seemed to swarm a couple of days ago; I saw a swarm-mass in a hedge ~ 20' away. Odd, though: the ball of bees shrank away to nothing, and at the hive entrance, lots more bees were going in than out. A "prep swarm", maybe? Anyhow ... today the front of the hive has zillions of bees all over it (no swarming going on), and when I opened the lid -- the top of the inner cover was covered in bees.

Does all this mean anything?

I mean to do an extensive inspection Friday (s/b in the 80's and sunny then), and will look for swarm cells. I feel pretty certain they'll be around.

FWIW: I had 3 nice bait boxes in my yards when the "swarm" appeared. At the time, there was hardly any notice paid by The Girls of the boxes. Little since then, too.
 

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I wouldn't be so certain they'll still be around. I thought I had time on a hive and it swarmed out yesterday. Having that many bees on the inner cover may just tell us the hive is completely and utterly packed! Unless you don't mind the swarm I'd get in there asap and see if you can't catch the queen and do an artificial swarm, before they do it for you.
 

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They will probably try again soon.

It's something to see when you are in the middle of it when it starts, I took some video of a swarm starting off last year, from the middle of the cloud.
 

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Mitch, you need to check that hive for queen cells. It's 80 degrees in Pitt County today and probably the same tomorrow. With the rainy weather we have had lately there will be bees in the trees. I have 6 traps out and scouts looking so swarming season is here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Mitch, you need to check that hive for queen cells. It's 80 degrees in Pitt County today and probably the same tomorrow. With the rainy weather we have had lately there will be bees in the trees. I have 6 traps out and scouts looking so swarming season is here.
Howdy, Tommy; I'm a little foggy on this -- if I find queen cells, should I destroy them (all)? Swarm cells, too (all)? Seems I've heard that if I killed all swarm cell larvae, I could end up having a swarm take off with no eligible larvae left for the workers to raise as a new queen. Right?
Would creating a split make any sense now? Or .. would it be too late to prevent a swarm (if The Girls have already decided to hit the road)?
Maybe just as well let the bees do their swarm thing, hope to catch the swarm in 1 of the boxes, and go from there?

Mitch
 

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I would certainly not just let them do their thing and hope you catch them. That's lost bees for you and bees that could end up somewhere not nearly as bee friendly as your yard. Most swarms, sadly, likely get sprayed from uneducated people - either as a swarm or wherever they end up.

If they are to the point where they are "test" swarming I would get on them asap. You are correct in that you want to leave the colony with the ingredients to keep thriving. As such, I would find your current queen and place her into a nuc, or another hive, with frames of brood (make sure you shake off all the bees to check for swarm cells), and shake in a few frames of just bees. You'll want to leave some swarm cells in the original colony but again, make sure there are none in your split with the queen.

Your current queen should establish the new colony and the old colony will feel like they have swarmed, let their new queen emerge, mate, and you should be back on track.

As I said above I pushed off a hive that I knew was swarmy and when I opened it up I found 3 virgins coming out of their cells ready to fight. The mated queen was heading out the entrance. I caged her just in time and had I been 10 seconds later, would have been dealing with a swarm.
 

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Look for a second queen while you are in the hive. Have a couple of clips ready just in case. Do not destroy any cells until you know exactly what the bees are planning, and even then I wouldn't.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thx much for the info, guys. Re: finding/sequestering a queen ... out of all the times I've tried (over 5 years) to find a queen, I've hardly ever done it. I'm told the workers mob the queen to make her impossible to see (I'm pretty sure that's been the case a # of times). A few times, I've seen queens -- but wasn't actually looking for them. Making splits is kinda risky, since I usually have no idea which frame a queen's on, and (worse) can't see fresh eggs (as a rule, even with lights attached to magnifying glasses, for God's sakes). My "sharp-focus" vision is really, really crappy. Makes beekeeping pretty tough, and I face some challenges most keepers I know of don't seem to have to worry about .... Maybe you could say, I keep bees in spite of, not because of.

Mitch
 

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That's a tough one. Once you learn to spot queens it becomes rather obvious as to where she is. However, if your vision isn't sharp enough that would certainly be inconvenient? Do you have a local club that has someone who can help you? I'd sure hate you to lose a swarm, with a large number of your bees, for such a reason. Maybe this same person can help mark your queen with a color you can spot easily for future reference?
 

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Use the cells to make small splits into nucs. Finding the queen and moving her would be a big help. Shake all the bees off frames to make sure queen cell can bee seen. If you can move the queen, move cells to nucs, add space... you can eliminate the swarm....unless you have a virgin queen hatched out in there, then it may be a toss up.
 
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