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Did I leave the Queen behind?

I went out and caught my first swarm yesterday, a very exciting experience indeed! It was in a fairly tricky location above a first floor window (probably why no one else had collected them!) but where there’s a will, there’s a way! When I first approached the swarm I could clearly hear the Queen piping, but I never actually saw her. I was pleased with how things had gone but I couldn’t capture every single bee as I couldn’t coax them out from the nooks and crannies of the roof.
I brought them home and transferred the bulk into my brood box expecting the rest to follow.
This morning I find the entire swarm back in the box I transported them home in!!
What have I done wrong?!
Do you think it’s possible I’ve left the Queen behind??
What now?!

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Hi David, good job getting the main cluster out of that spot, it does look tricky! With what you described the problem doesn’t sound like the queen was left at the original site but that they prefer your capture box - is it a box previously used by bees? And is the brood box you put them in new equipment?

Ok, phew :sweat_smile: needed a little reassurance!!
Neither the capture box or brood box have had bees in before.

Tried again today to transfer the bees from the capture box into the brood box… I go and check again this evening and they’re back in the capture box!!! What is going on??!

Oh my goodness, what the what?? Hmm, if I had this problem I’d try:

a) getting some beeswax and rubbing it into the new brood box and frames, and adding a cotton ball with a drop of lemongrass oil if you have it, then try another install, or -

b) putting a few wax-rubbed frames into the capture box, assuming it’s a viable container for them to spend a week in and you can shield it from rain etc. After a week they should have started some comb on the frames, which you’d then transfer into the proper box. Or -

c) a combination of a and b: place the capture box over the open new box, rubbed with wax, shield from weather and give it a week. Hopefully they’d begin moving down into the new box and you can rubberband any built comb from the capture box into the frames.

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When you transfer from box to brood is it possible your leaving the Queen in the box?

If she doesn’t get transfered that might be the reason they keep going back to the box.

Find the Queen cage her into the brood leave for an hour then fully release her and see if the bees then stay put.


It would seem that the queen was left behind in the capture box.

Best solution would be to add a frame of brood into the brood box, that will usually make them want to stay.

If its not too hot or if you have a good ventilation, close them in the brood box for a day or so (not more as the queen might need to mate).
Does the brood box have an open mesh floor? Sometimes new swarms dont like this (but good as the ventilation will allow you to close them in for a while).
I would be wary of using lemongrass oil as too much actually is a repellant and also it might cause confusion with the queen phermone.

Hmm, interesting… How about removing the box from the reach of bees? :slightly_smiling_face:

I have considered moving the capture box, but I was worried that if they’re determined not to stay in the brood box, at least I can try again if they keep on going back to the capture box!

I’ve got a load of good ideas to get on with now… thanks guys. Will report back.

Anyone think there is any chance they are queenless and introducing a new queen might convince them to stay??

Hi, Just an idea, I use an essential oil called lemongrass oil, reason being it is very similar to the hormone the bees excrete when they find and like a new nesting site. I have tested it and it seemed to work very well, just make sure it is 100% pure with no additives and is no way harmful to any animals.
Yes I know this is not an instant fix but lemongrass is a a great swarm lure so hopefully it helps you out later on.