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Combine a swarm with a weak possibly queenless hive?


I just caught a lovely fat swarm this afternoon- off a rosebush (swarms LOVE rose bushes- it’s the 5th I’ve caught this year off one). I have a single brood hive that seems to be queenless- though there is a chance it has a freshly mated and/or virgin queen. As it has had no brood for quite a while it’s packed with honey, nectar and bee bread. Still has quite a few bees in it- but I can’t see a single egg. I was expecting to see eggs maybe a week ago.

How can I combine the two? Newspaper method? The problem is I want to keep the existing hive as a single brood hive. I also want to take advantage of the swarms comb building abilities.

Edit: thinking about how swarms love rosebushes- I wonder if you could use leaves off one as a swarm lure if you were short of lemongrass. Over 30% of swarms I caught this year were on a rose bush - there must be something there that attracts the queen. I wonder if bees like rose water?


Newspaper is good.
What I would do is hive your swarm and let them establish themselves. Test frame into the possibly queen less colony. Then when you are certain there is no queen or you have removed one you can unite and a few days later consolidate the frames.


Thanks dee, as I drove over to collect my new swarm I decided to do pretty much that. I’m fairly sure the other hive is queenless- but it shouldn’t be. I’ve given it a frame of eggs- and it already had a queen cell or two at that time. I expected to see eggs by now- but no. Maybe they’ll appear in the coming days. I hope so as it used to be my best hive.

The swarm was made up of pale yellow bees which is odd as here most bees are darker. It’s nice to get a different :honeybee:


Hi Jack, that hive can quickly return to be your best hive. Sometimes one frame with eggs just isn’t enough. I sometimes have to followup with more frames with eggs, say every 7-10 days.

If the extra frames are not needed, no harm is done. The emerging bees will boost the colonies population.


Yep- I would have already added more frames of brood- but I don’t have any easy to get at. The other hives at this site are now supered up several levels high - and I don’t want to disturb them. This swarm I caught is a real good one- and I gave it one frame full of honey and bee bread from the poor hive- so hopefully it builds up some frames very which which I can donate. Or better still it turns out there is a queen in the dodgy one.


Jack, this is why I like single brood with single honey. I like my brood to always be easy to access. If the honey super is too heavy to lift, I’ll take the 3 or 4 of the heaviest frames out first. Once I’ve gone to that trouble, I then think I might as well remove 3 or 4 brood frames while I’m at it. Then I know I don’t have to worry about that hive swarming for a while.

I like your idea of using the swarm as a donor hive. That’s what I would do.


that’s interesting Jeff, I was under the impression that in some cases you would need more than one super- if the colony is big and the flow is strong. Do you manage that by simply removing and replacing honey frames regularly?

The other issue I have with stealing brood frames- is that each time you disturb a brood nest there is a small chance you might snuff the queen- which would be very counterproductive?

that swarm has onyl been in my yard since yesterday evening and the bees are already bringing in pollen. I love catching swarms- it’s so much fun and rewarding. I feel good about this swarm as initially the home owner called a pest controller who quoted $130 to kill the bees. A co-worker suggested to that person that they should ring a beekeeper instead- and got me. So I saved them $10 but better still all the bees were saved- and I got a new queen! This was one of those super easy ones where the bees virtually walked right into the hive. The c;uster was 2 feet off the ground- the nuc went right under them- one shake and I had them caught. I love how the bees all start fanning and then the stragglers march right in.

It was also funny as this guy set up a remote cam so he could watch the bee cluster when he was at work- he was actually watching me as I caught them from his work. He also said when he rang me ‘The bees are sleeping in a big ball’ :rofl: Sleeping!


That was good that you got paid some $s as well as getting an easy swarm.

Yes that’s correct, I harvest the honey once the frames are full.

There is always that chance that we snuff the queen with every brood inspection. I think I’m miles in front by doing those brood inspections & preventing colonies from swarming. If we do accidentally kill the queen, they’ll immediately start making emergency queens. Much quicker than they do if they don’t find the dead queen.


oh- oops- I meant I saved them $130. I didn’t charge. I was happy with the freebees.

I find with catching swarms the good people that offer to pay- I don’t want to charge- and the people who refuse to pay: they are the ones I’d like to charge. It’s a Catch 22. Lately in Adelaide most of the swarm catchers contacted each other and agreed to charge $50 for basic swarm catching- a swarm catching cartel! I’d join them but I worry about cheapskates who’d rather kill 20,000 bees than pay $50 to have them ethically removed.

I get these rude calls where people ring and ask about removal and then say ‘I’m not paying!’ when I havn’t even mentioned any charge…


I find that the only people that are prepared to pay for swarm removals is a business that want the bees removed so that customers don’t get stung. I only agree to pick up a swarm if it’s close & sounds easy to get.

I charge a fee to remove bees from house walls etc.

It’s amazing how many people want you to come & have a look. I DON’T do that. I can work out what I need over the phone. Some people are surprised to hear that it happens quite frequently. Bees in walls, that is.
I used to tell people to bee proof their houses. The only people who half take notice are the ones that have had a bee infestation.

I don’t get the calls like I used to. Lots of blokes are advertising free bee removals on Gumtree.


Hi all, I have a weak hive (has a queen and plenty of bees but they don’t produce much surplus honey), I can’t buy a new queen but I often see swarms which I can catch.
Could I catch a swarm into brood box, remove weak hive about 5 metres away, shake all the bees off frames onto ground. Place swarm in hive where the weak hive used to be and hope they will unite and gain the vigour of the swarm. This way I can get rid of the old queen and her daughters and clean out all the old cross comb in the weak hive.
Do you think this could work?


Lot of work. Put the old queen under your boot and unite the swarm through newspaper to the colony


Thanks Dee, the old weak hive was from a cutout and now has a lot of cross comb that I can’t get into and I suspect the weakness may be due to wax moth in the cross comb. Wax moth is our only pest. I am keen to clean it all out but don’t like killing willing workers!