Early this spring my best hive issued a HUGE swarm. Luckily I was able to capture it and give it to a friend- the swarm built up very fast in his hive and filled the super with honey in just a few months. It absolutely boomed.
meanwhile the mother hive- struggled all season. I had to give it frames of brood every month or so for all of spring, summer and autumn. I must have donated 8 frames in total to keep the hive limping along. Over that period the hive went queenless several times. I don’t know why but it would make a queen and then that queen would just disappear and the bees hadn’t made queen cells to replace her. Now at the very end of Autumn it finally seems to have a good laying queen which they made from the last frame of brood I gave them.
But the hive is still weak- and the last time I inspected it I noticed that the outermost frame were completely ignored with the bees and brood clustered in the center. I finally realised that I should transfer the whole colony into a smaller 5 frame nuc box- and lose the empty frames- which I did.
I now realise that that is what I should have done way back in spring when the hive swarmed. I think that it would have built up much faster if it was in a smaller box with less space to heat and defend.
I think this all depends on how big the swarm is and what is left after the swarm- but in this case it was clear that the swarm took most of the bees and most of the stores with them. The bees that remained had no way make use of a full 8 brood frames anymore. In fact I think this would apply for any hive that is weak and cannot fill up a brood box- letting them build up first in a smaller Nuc box gives them a much better chance to thrive.