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Artificial Swarming of Honey Bees

We are steadily heading towards spring in the south of the planet and I have been collecting information about splitting hives and dealing with swarms, or at least imminent swarms.

@Dee and @Dawn_SD have kindly directed me to some excellent articles to work through. Certainly, the WBKA, most especially Wally Shaw, has a cool library of resources. However, I am looking at this article: http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/artswarm.html and really liking it’s simplicity and clear details. However, regarding the weekly shifting of the ‘small’ colony/hive from side to side to get bees drifting back to the limited swarm/parent hive… the article doesn’t mention the new virgin queen getting lost on the way back to the hive after mating and my concern is that she might drift back to the parent colony.

My guess is that she should go out and pretty much straight back to the correct hive. But what if she goes for multiple mating flights over a few days, and in the mean time I shift the hive to the other side of the parent colony?..

Thanks for your thoughts, Paul

I haven’t ever done this, but my guess would be that she wouldn’t be allowed back into the parent hive. Virgin queens have very different pheromones from mated queens. While a hive may tolerate several virgins running around inside the hive, once she is well-mated, they don’t want her back if they like their current queen, and they will attack/ball her if she tries to come back in.

I would be interested to hear what more experienced queen-rearing beekeepers have to say. :blush:

Yes, agreed. My main concern is losing her.

I make sure there are lots of house bees in the “new” hive and leave them to it. I only put the odd frame of brood in till the new queen starts laying.


You won’t lose her. Any moves are made before she has done any orientation flights
The hive is moved one week after you have done the AS. She won’t have emerged. That’s the whole point. To weaken the colony to such an extent that if more than one queen emerges( you’ve missed a queen cell?) the bees will themselves reduce them to one and not cast

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Thanks Dee. I read it that you move it more than once, but once sounds enough.

Can’t wait till spring!!