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Captured Swarms: Presence of Queen?


How prevalent is it to have a queen with a captured swarm?

If one is not with a swarm, is it conventional to then order a singleton queen from a supplier?

Thank you.


The colony swarms with a queen, the old queen or a virgin (when it is called an afterswarm)
If the queen is lost in swarming…this happens if she is clipped… the bees will go back home.
The only other way you won’t have a queen in the swarm is if you fail to catch her.
If you fail to catch her the bees are likely to abscond and fly back to where the swarm originally settled.
I’ve never known anybody to keep swarmed bees if they didn’t get the queen so I’d be interested in the replies re re-queening.
Anybody know any other way a queen is lost when swarming?


Very difficult to answer this in the way that you asked it. I would say that more often than not, a swarm has a queen. However, in my experience, perhaps 20% of the time she is lost somehow. It maybe that I am clumsy and killed her, or that she hid somewhere on the bush/tree and didn’t join the rest of the swarm. That is why I like to cut swarms off with the vegetation still attached, rather than shake them off.

What matters more is how you go about determining whether or not you have a queen, and whether you are willing to take on feral bees with an unknown type of queen (could be africanized in the US).

So here is my approach:

  1. Capture swarm and if possible install in a hive with drawn comb.
  2. Observe demeanor of the hive and examine for presence of eggs after one week. If bees are very defensive, order a new queen right away. If no eggs and behavior is OK, wait for one more week, because the swarm may have a virgin queen. http://honeybeesuite.com/when-will-newly-hatched-queen-begin-lay/#comment-115738
  3. If no eggs or aberrant eggs (two per cell or on the wall not the floor of the cell), order a new queen ASAP because you may have laying workers pretty soon, if don’t already.

Actually practically, my hives are urban, so I need to know that my bees will behave well. Therefore I would always requeen a swarm. You may not have to do that, but I choose to do it.


Hi, I usually use a frame of young brood when catching a swarm. Most times when you check in a couple of days, you’ll find the queen on or near the frame of brood. If the swarm has no queen, they’ll start building emergency queen cells. It’s as simple as that.


Thanks Jeff. That’ll be nice once I hav a first established hive.


If you don’t have a queen, they will return to the tree. There is a queen with the swarm. It’s just a question of whether or not you got her.


Your welcome. It’s always handy to have a singly box hive nearby, say from a recently caught swarm, so you can grab a frame of brood without lifting honey boxes. Yeah, like you say, you need to get your first one:)