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SWARMING NOW! Guide Me THrough THis Please!

1596 Views 11 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  WWW
My new hive (from over wintered nuc) swarmed 3 weeks after taking it home and putting the nuc frames into a hive with drawn comb this spring. So, I added a 2nd floor with all fresh wax foundation. Now, 10 days later, THE SAME HIVE is Swarming again as I type! This time, I have a extra hive with all new wax foundation right next to the swarming hive. Just put it there this morning and the bees started swarming a few minutes later.

Luckly for me, they are gathering in a small sapling 10 feet in front of the hive and at about my neck height from the ground.


1) How long do I wait before grabbing the swarm? I want to make sure I have the queen and everything.

2) I'll be putting them in a 10 frame box with all new comb. This hive is located right next to the one swarming. Is it OK to put the swarm in that hive next door?

3) Is there anything else I should do to make this swarm catch successful this time?


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From my experience catching swarms:

1) If they are clustered, you can go ahead and get your sugar water spray bottle ready and put the box near the tree
2) Spray them and knock them into the hive. Then sit back and wait as the rest work their way in, then close it up and move it to where you want it.
3) Keep it sealed over night and feed. Once they fill out the comb you've given them add another super and feed until its drawn.

That's what I would do
Grab the swarm now before they decide to skeedattle and setting them beside the other hive is not a problem. To help anchor the swarm in the new hive it is always a good idea to pull a brood frame from the other hive and place it in with the new swarm hive.

The probable reason your hive is swarming so much is what is called after swarms, when a hive is getting ready to swarm they will make a number of queen cells and each of these new queens can trigger after swarms to the point where a hive can literally swarm itself to death. In the future when you have a hive issue a swarm you need to get into that hive and destroy all the extra queen cell except for one or two of the best looking ones, this way the hive will requeen itself instead of issuing multiple after swarms. :)
Bob here how I do it,

1. I watch them land and cluster, cuss a little during this time mainly at myself.

2. Then I rush to get a hive set up, cuss myself a little more for not having extra parts made up. Or pat myself on the back for having everything ready.

3. I grab a brood frame from another hive and put in the hive.

4. Shake off the swarm, leaving off the lid for a few minutes, then replacing when the bulk of them settle down.

5. After most are in I take it to a buddies house, a few miles away for a week. This is optional but makes me feel better. Leave them alone for a week.
There is a fair chance that your swarm has a virgin queen so if possible you might want to give them a frame of brood to hold them in the new hive, and another one in a week or so to check for queenlessness.
OK, I caught them! They are in the new hive, drinking syrup and fanning!

I don't want to take a frame of brood from the hive that swarmed to put in, so I have no brood.

On the other hand, when that same hive swarmed a week or so ago, I tried to catch that swarm in a Nuc Box. Unsuccessful, but I did put a frame of brood in that one and a bunch of bees stuck around. They have no queen and it appears they are trying to make one (last weeks swarm in the nuc box). Should I take the 5 frames of drawn comb, bees and all, and put THAT into the new hive box (with the swarm I just caught?). Or is that a bad thing?

It wouldn't hurt anything combine them, they would probably build up into a strong hive faster. The swarm probably has a virgin queen which would be a plus for both of them.
Only bad thing is nuc+queen cell +swarm with queen= 2 queens. Remove the queen cell(s) if you combine.
I don't want to take a frame of brood from the hive that swarmed to put in, so I have no brood.
I get that, but I think it's misguided. If I think there might be any chance whatsoever that a hive doesn't have a mated laying queen I give it a frame of brood. If my only source of brood was a hive that only had two frames of brood I would still do it.

As a matter of fact the fewer hives you have the more important it is to keep/get the ones you have queenright. Moving around frames of brood is one of the primary ways that you do that.
The brood helps settle the hive, making them less likely to abscond based on the scouts report of a better location. Sometimes feeding encourages them to fly again (the bees fill back up on syrup and are ready to continue their trip). Swarms are loaded with nectar in the bees own abdomens, and you want to skinny them down and encourage them to forage to settle. In a day or two, feeding to stimulate comb comes into play. Moving the hive quickly helps, as you lose the scouts that are out on exploration trips, leaving only the bivouac bees.

The behavior you report makes it likely they have settled.

Virgin queens are common in my area in late swarms. I attribute this to cool foggy weather I get in high summer, but LaFerney indicates this is characteristic of late swarms everywhere.

A virgin swarm could be requeened with a purchased queen, or the mother hive could be inspected for surplus swarm cells. You do not have to add brood today (settling seems to be taken care of). In three-four days brood should be visible, if it is not, the virgin issue is forefront (but not yet certain, as sometimes a great lag to first brood occurs). Then you can cope with that wrinkle.

A emergency queen will not be hatching new brood for 7 weeks. That takes you into mid-August. You will need to supplement capped brood for the emergency period. That is going to be a drag on the other hive.

A purchased queen will be hatching new brood in 4 weeks (or less). The dollars spent on a purchased queen are economical for late swarms in my area. For Maine, I haven't a clue, but I would guess both emergency and purchased options are poor choices for July Swarms, and if the swarm doesn't immediately lay, then killing the defective queen and recombining is the prudent approach.
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Thanks so much everyone. I think they are settling in! They are orientating themselves to the hive and fanning. Looks good so far!

Good for you, I am happy to hear the good news.
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