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Discussion Starter #1
I looked out the window this morning and saw an amazing sight. One of my long hives had a beard of bees covering the front of the hive and dripping down the legs. I knew there were a lot of bees in the hive, but this was my best ventilated hive, and had never bearded before.

So, falling into panic mode, I jumped into my beesuit and rushed out. I looked inside, and quickly found a few swarm cells. I took a few frames and put them in a nuc box, looking for the queen. I went back and forth through 25 frames and couldn't find her anywhere. My thought was if I could find her, I'd make a cut-down split and maybe save a few pounds of bees. But, I couldn't find her. I brushed some of the beard into the nuc and went back to looking. Couldn't find her-- this was a hive that had thick layers of bees on almost every frame.

There was still a pretty good-sized clump of bees hanging on the hive legs, so I got another empty nuc box, and brushed them into it. And there she was, a nice fat golden queen. I dumped her into the nuc that was full of frames and her bees, put a second nuc body with a mix of empty comb and undrawn frames above and departed, with a cloud of angry bees whooshing around my head. The new nuc is only a few feet from the old hive, unfortunately, and I have no way to move it further away, for now.

My question is, could this save the hive from swarming, or was I too late?

This was the second time this year I had to make a cut-down split to avoid swarming. The long hives make a LOT of bees, it seems. But since they're more accessible, it's a little easier to keep up with what they're up to. I just got back from a few days away, and I guess things got out of hand while I was gone.
 

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Sounds like they swarmed and you caught it. Any chance they were actually returning?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sounds like they swarmed and you caught it. Any chance they were actually returning?
I don't know. The hive was packed with bees and there was probably a couple pounds hanging off the front. Do you think they were already a swarm? This was an unmarked queen, a great local queen. It was my first hive last year, and I took a lot of resources from it, I removed many frames of brood to fix a laying worker hive and to make several nucs. By fall it was a little weak, and over the winter the queen shut down completely, but the colony came back this spring like gangbusters.

I've had one other hive swarm, and it was a different process entirely. I was sitting on the back porch putting frames together and they just came tornadoing out in a cloud, and gathered in the top of a nearby too-tall tree. BIG swarm, too. At least a bushel of bees. That was sad, because they were way out of reach.
 

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I have witnessed just four swarms. One only flew about 50 feet, stayed about half hour, flew back, clustered outside for 5- 10 minutes and marched back in in less than a minute. Why I wondered if it was a return trip.

I don't know if there is an official time cut off for the definition of a swarm but if the queen leaves the hive with a cluster of bees it is a swarm to me. You have them in a new hive, I think that would count as swarming to the bees as well.

Will they throw after swarms will be the real question I guess.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I got to thinking about this, and now I wonder if what happened might have been a usurpation attempt. I didn't see any fighting in the hive or on the outside, it was a very strong hive, and I did see capped queen cells, so it was most likely a swarm. Still, the bees are really irritated with me now. I went outside an hour after I closed up the hive, and they were waiting for me. I got a couple good stings on the head, and had to put on my bee suit to water the garden. That's never happened before.
 
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