Just curious, could you just put a queen excluder on the bottom of the first box with no top entrance to keep them from swarming? Ive always been good at preventing swarms but had this random thought and didnt see any old posts when I searched.
Yup, some people do this on new package installs to keep them from absconding. A laying queen will not fit through a queen excluder...
HOWEVER, in preparation for swarming your queen will stop laying eggs, consume less food, and shrink in size in preparation for flying with the swarm. As such, it's very likely she'll slip right through a queen excluder. For that reason alone it's not a very commonly practiced tactic as it's not guaranteed to work.
Best bet is more commonly practiced, traditional methods.
For an established hive, virgin queens can escape. Say your hive lost the queen and the virgins go off mating. Do you want to risk that she can't get back in? It can work great the first few days you install a new package or new queen. I forgot to put one under the bottom box when I added a purchased queen last year. As soon as she got out, they absconded. The is good money flying away.
From my extensive reading and limited experience, it seems that attempting to physically restrain a queen (clipping wings, excluders, etc.) is not a viable method to preventing swarms. You either need to (1) manipulate the hive to make them not have the urge to swarm (splits, checkerboarding, opening brood nest, pyramiding, etc.); or (2) make them think that they have swarmed after the urge has developed (Snelgrove method 2, fly back split, Taranov manuever, Demaree, artifical swarm, etc.).
I saw a little box you can put on the entrance that has a QE, and if you are able, you check it every few days to see if the bees are bunched up in the box, which means they are swarming or the drones are building up. Can't remember where i saw that. Didn't try it myself, but it was interesting.
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