Combining swarm into original hive?

Hi there,

I’m hoping for some advice, suggestions on the best method for combining a swarm into its original hive.

Background: I have 4 hives originally from 2 that I split last spring. Of the original 2 one was weaker/not as desirable genetics. The two hives that came from the weaker colony took awhile to fill their 8 frame brood box. I put a super on the one with the original queen earlier this year, and noticed maybe 2 1/2 weeks ago that I needed to put the super on the second one, for various reasons I didn’t get a chance, and then yesterday they swarmed. I managed this morning to catch the swarm and place into a nuc box. Because this colony is the weakest in comparison to my other hives i’m reluctant to start another hive, and I was hoping I could recombine with the original hive. I’m located on the Sunshine Coast, Aus, we are heading into Autumn but still lots of flowering bloodwood around, and mild winter.

My question i guess is will the original hive have a new scent already? the original hive doesn’t have any virgin queens. If i place them back tomorrow 2 days after they swarmed will they fight the original hive or will they swarm again thinking they did not succeed?

Or should I wait for the swarm to build up some stores and then combine the two using the newspaper method?


Hi Annika, I’m not far from you (globally speaking) in Buderim. One of the first things I learnt 35 years ago was that bloodwood brings colonies up to swarming strength. Hence your swarm.

I would not combine the swarm back into the parent hive. The parent hive should have virgin queens emerging. I would let them sort it out, while waiting to see if the victor gets successfully mated.

I would use the opportunity to let the swarm build up in strength, then use that hive as a resource hive. A hive that you can use to draw brood from, as needed.

A resource hive can be very handy during a time when we feel that a hive is a bit weak. Sometime the addition of a full frame of brood can make the world of difference to a weaker colony.

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Thank you so much for the reply Jeff. I will leave as is.

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You’re welcome Annika, Yes, leave as is for the time being. However you’ll need to check after about 3-4 weeks to make sure that you have a mated queen.

Yes I will definitely check to see whats going on. Great idea to have a resource hive. Interesting about the bloodwood, thanks for that information.

Out of curiosity do you know how long before the pheromones of the hive change? is it only when there is a new queen, would the queen cells give off the scent? if hypothetically I did put them back in the parent hive soon after they had swarmed would it already smell different?

Hi Annika, I don’t know how long before the hive scent changes. What you’re suggesting is just something that I wouldn’t do.

Whereabouts on the Coast are you? I know where I am the bees are rapidly building up their populations, as well as producing honey. Therefore under those circumstances, I wouldn’t be combining a swarm back to the parent hive shortly after that hive issued it.

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Hi Jeff,

I’m definitely not combining and I’m taking your suggestion of creating a resource hive. It was just pure curiosity of how long it would take to change.

I’m not too far from you, about 10mins inland from Coolum.

Thanks again for your advice :slight_smile:

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Hi Annika, you’re welcome.

I’ve actually wondered the same thing myself.

Hive scent when you think about it can be a bit of a mystery. Just say for argument that you made a colony by combining one frame of brood & bees from 10 different hives, then take it away to a new location. Within about 90 minutes bees will be bringing back pollen, and will be accepted by the guard bees. With that said, it doesn’t take long for the scent from 10 different colonies to amalgamate into a new scent which will be uniquely characteristic to that colony.