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This afternoon one of the hives in my backyard swarmed, luckily while I was out there. Amazing event. This hive swarmed or tried to swarm two weeks ago. Most of the bees were on the hive and eventually went back inside. I don't know if part of the hive left or not. Anyway, I made a split (putting queen cells in a nuc) and then I inspected around 5-6 days ago (about 9-10 days after swarm) and there was no sign of the queen--no eggs and no larvae except a few older one that would be capped soon. There were some queen cells, which I left in place to have a new queen.

Today, the swarm--probably not huge. I'm guessing swarming with a virgin queen. Anyway, the bees collected on a fruit tree nearby and I was able to catch them in a cardboard box and then quickly transferred them into a standard deep with frames of drawn comb and old brood frames. Bees flying into the box, and the bees remaining on the tree seemed excited to be marching into the new hive box. I figure I have the queen. They've been in there now for the last 6-7 hours.

Then later I notice another cluster of bees, about the size of a pineapple, on a neighbor's pine tree about 20-25 feet up.

Is it normal for a swarm to split into two groups? Could there be two queens (I wouldn't think so)? I have not checked for the queen in the box I have.

And what is a good course of action? I was going to take the new hive to the bee yard tonight, but I decided to leave it where it is overnight, hoping the other half of the swarm will come tomorrow. I also set up a nuc with frames and lemongrass oil lure nearby. Is possible they will join their sister bees? Or should I try to catch them?

The other odd thing is that a clump of 100-200 bees are insisting on being on the front landing of the new hive, despite darkness and falling temps. They don't seem to ne fanning, just hangin' out.
 

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cconnell:

Good questions. While some of our more experienced contributors might want to chime in, my limited experience has taught me that swarms (particularly secondary swarms) can have multiple queens in them and will often split and combine as their whim of fancy? dictates.

A humorous anecdote from my yard the past two days might help illustrate what I am trying to convey.

I had a colony issue a secondary swarm yesterday that promptly settled into two clusters approximately three feet apart on the same branch.

I cut the first cluster loose and hived it. While working on the second cluster another colony in my yard issued a swarm (I assume primary) which settled in another tree.

After hiving the second cluster of the first swarm, I noticed that the first swarm cluster had left the box I hived them in and clustered approximately 6 feet away from the second swarm cluster which happened to be set up in fairly close proximity to where the second swarm happened to bivouac (confusing yet?).

So, I set about re-hiving the first swarm and about an hour after this was completed the second swarm alighted from their clustered location and moved to the location where the first swarm had settled after leaving the hive I put them in, and re-clustered in the same location where a small knot of bees from the first swarm remained. In other words, they moved 6 feet over. to the location previously occupied by Swarm #1..

Today, when I gathered up the second swarm cluster I observed three queens in the bunch as I dumped them in the box.

Following this, it appears that one (or more) of these queens mustered up enough interest to coax maybe a pound-and-a-half of bees to leave this box and cluster way above the box where they had been hived.

All the while, the two hive bodies I have dumped bees into still seem to be queen-right and are settling in to their new respective abodes.

All this said, I would recommend gathering up the stray bees and then decide what to do next. If your hive count is where you want it, you can simply dump these bees in with your hived bees and let them work it out.

If you are looking to add more colonies you could attempt to hive the pineapple-sized swarm and see what happens, looking for the queen(s) when you dump the bees into your hive.

There might be a stray queen in among the 100-200 stray bees so you might dig through them carefully and see what you come up with. If nothing else you can scoop them up with a gloved hand and dump them into the hive.

Good luck with all this- do let us know how it turns out.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That sounds like quite a game of musical swarms you were playing!

Both swarms have been captured and hived. Though I haven't disturbed them, both are exhibiting behavior which indicates a queen. Especially the pineapple sized on high in the tree. That was my first high capture. But all the stragglers were in the box so fast that they obviously have a queen. So, good, two for two.

I was going to move them both to one of my bee yards this morning,but for some reason myself, my wife, the dog, and the cats overslept for the first time in years and I missed my opportunity--the bees were already coming out. So, this evening or tomorrow morning they get moved.

I will need to check the original issuing hive and see what state they are in now.
 

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I'm so glad I saw this post. My long hive swarmed and I caught it on a low pine. Put this swarm in a hive with a frame of brood with a queen cell and another frame of nectar. They settled in and seem happy.

The long hive is angry but has several queen cells so I'm just waiting for them to settle. The next day there was a huge swarm in a the same pine. I captured the swarm ( more than a basketball) and put it in a make shift hive of two shallow boxes. The spent the night and the next day there were two swarms in the pine and zip in the hive. I tried again, coating the frames in the hive with sugar syrup. I hadn't seen the queen but never the less left them alone. Next day, the basketball sized swarm was now in a different pine within my reach. I vacuumed them up this time and put them in the hive, again. Within a few hours they were out in another bush. I decided not to try again. That lasted until the next day. I put together another hive out of an old deep. Put a bucket under the swarm and clipped of the limb the shrub. 3/4's of the swarm hit the bucket so I put them in the hive. I took the stick, put it on a sheet in front of the hive, sat down and watched. I spotted the queen and put her on the entrance, 3 times. She kept turning tail and ducking under a frame the other bees were walking up into the hive. Long story a little shorter, the swarm was back in the bush and 24 hours later made the hive higher with an empty deep box. I cut the new branch off and stuck it with the swarm in the box put a lid on and walked away. I haven't checked to see if they will stay I hope if they don't the just take off.

I had no idea a hive would swarm twice. What would cause it? Over crowding could have been the problem from the size of the swarms. The bees over wintered and as soon as it was warm enough I added empty frames, pulled a couple of honey frames, returned them empty. They had space. Any ideas why her royal highness is snubbing my other hives?
 

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I had no idea a hive would swarm twice.
Oberlinmom:

Good post. While I will not pretend to be an expert on this subject, my own personal experience and what I have read would suggest that secondary swarms are relatively common from strong, well-provisioned hives once they go down the reproductive swarm path.

Specifically, the Primary swarm will leave first, containing the mated queen. Then, a few days or a week or more later a Secondary swarm or two will leave, each containing one or more virgin queens which were raised in the process of making a replacement queen for the mother colony.

While my first-hand experience at this is limited, I have noted that a Secondary swarm with more than one queen in it will issue a follow-up 'swarm' from the box they were housed in, which contains one of the queens and a cadre of bees while leaving the main swarm intact and in your hive.
 

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Everyone here seems to be enamored with catching swarms, mostly from their own hives. Doesn't anybody take pride in preventing swarms?
Her in So. Carolina, our flow is so short, that a hive that swarms will not make a honey crop.
We have had 4 of 14 hives TRY to swarm so far thus year. Those queens that would have swarmed are sitting in nucs now, to iver winter and sell.
 

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Well, the first word in the Title of the thread is, "Swarms", not "Prevention" :).

Alex
 

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Everyone here seems to be enamored with catching swarms, mostly from their own hives. Doesn't anybody take pride in preventing swarms?
Her in So. Carolina, our flow is so short, that a hive that swarms will not make a honey crop.
We have had 4 of 14 hives TRY to swarm so far thus year. Those queens that would have swarmed are sitting in nucs now, to iver winter and sell.
I'd love to prevent them and I'd hoped by adding frames and opening space she wouldn't feel the need. I could put the swarms into nucs and just say I gave her some workers. It's not really all that different.

Now tell me why they swarmed twice and as of today a third time?
 
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