Honeyflow.com | FAQ's |

First swarm catch gone wrong

Thanks for the update John, I’m thinking you have nailed the issue and a lesson learnt the hard way, now it is time to regroup and at it again.

1 Like

That’s a tough realization John, one of those simple things we wish we’d been aware of but can only learn from after the fact. Happens to everyone somehow. Thanks for the update and a helpful caution to all regarding hot smokers in general.

@Peter48 hi Peter, today I was looking into the forum a few discussions for the first time in quite some time… I saw a documentary on Tv last week showing a person catching a swarm out in the field … Now… sorry I surely ask you a stupid question but I was thinking…
1-That guy put the bees inside his brood box and put the frames back in … OK
2- He left it on the floor as quite some bees where still flying around till next day that he went to check thing out … OK…
3- question… If you use a brood box to put the swarm inside and you are far away from the house how do you take the brood box home if it does not have a bottom ? All the bees will come out in the car…Or you use a special closed box to do that ?

1 Like

Hello Helene, no question is a stupid question in trying to expand your knowledge.
My answer might sound a bit long but I’m just wanting to give you a complete and clear answer.
Catching a swarm in a brood box, the brood box can be any size from a nuc 4 frame box up to a 10 frame box, depending in what you have available but it will always have a base board and a roof and either frames fitted or ready to be added depending on how you are transferring the swarm into the hive.
So the term of ‘catching a swarm into a brood box’ is often used but it is misleading as it is actually a hive when the bees are in it. It is a brood hive as it is a single depth hive even though there is no brood in it at that time.
I don’t do a lot of swarm catches which I pass on to others who have the time to do them, JeffH is an expert at it. I’m very busy so to increase my hive numbers I do a split and there is no risk of bringing a disease into my apiary.
Moving a hive in a car the bees have to be locked into the hive as the bees will be very confused, stressed and defensive, they will be in a stinging mode.
Hope that explains it to you.
Keep safe and cheers

1 Like

Hi Helene, nice to see your post & hope you’re keeping your chin up in this strange time. Last year I devised swarm bait boxes out of two styro brood boxes that had been in use the previous season. I cut green foam board insulation to fit the tops and bottoms and duct-taped them on, then carved a small opening in the bottom boards. They were very light and easy to rig up into the trees!

…unfortunately no bees moved in. I’m going to try this again tho & will let you know what happens :+1:

1 Like

@Eva – Ciao Eva, don’t never give up… let me know how your next experience will go… we need to make many things wrong to learn, so… I am waiting for new photos !
Hope you are ok and safe ! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: :honeybee: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: :honeybee:

1 Like

Well turns out i had the chance to redeem myself.

Neighbour called me saying the was a bee swarm in the tree about 10m from my house.

So out i went and gave her a beesuit to give me a helping hand. A quick shake of the branch while i held the box nice and close and a heap of bees fell in.

I then put it on the ground and in they all walked. later that night i took it out to my 2nd apiary about 30km away.

I did however start to think… was that some of my bees from 10m away? i didnt notice anything different and last inspection about 4 weeks ago i didnt see anything to be concerned about.

I did an inspection today checking for my queen and numbers.

2 of the hives i found my queen. 1 actually somehow made it into the super through the metal qx. i couldnt find any bends or anything. so i grabbed her out and moved her back into the brood box. numbers looked really good too.

my 3rd hive i didnt find the queen. but i did find capped brood. larvae at all ages and eggs. so to me she is in there somewhere? none of the hives had swarms cells or anything like that. so maybe i was just really lucky have a swarm land so close.

Anyways they look very happy. going to give them a week and have a little check of them and see if i can move them into a full size brood box.


Well i had a quick peak inside the nuc to see how they were going and to see if i could find the queen. ( i will add a frame of honey and fully drawn frame) i only had frames left over from when i cycled them out to cut the drone brood off them. anyways i found the queen.

She is pretty small. im hoping thats how they look when swarming and not because she is a ?virgin? queen?. pretty interesting and you dont really hear a whole lot after swarm catching of how long until you should see eggs and what not.

1 Like

You should see eggs from a mated queen after about 3 or 4 days. A virgin queen could take 10 or 12 days. I always give a swarm a frame with open brood. That will help to hold the swarm in the box, plus it’s insurance in case the swarm is queenless.


Thanks Jeff,

Good to know as you dont hear much post swarm catch what to expect. i will transfer some open brood into it and a frame of honey to help them along. it was a last minute scramble which is why i only had the half frames.


1 Like

The frame of open brood will tell you what’s going on after about 4 days. After 4 days, just inspect that frame of brood. If the swarm has a mated queen, you’ll start seeing new eggs on that frame. If the swarm is queenless, you’ll see emergency queen cells. If the queen is a virgin, you’ll see no eggs or emergency queen cells.


I think she is a very nice looking queen. Not that small at all! :blush:

I agree with @JeffH, it usually takes at least a few days, assuming she is a mated queen. There are other factors to think about too though.

  1. If you are using foundationless frames, they will have to draw out enough comb for her to lay in.
  2. They may not let her lay for a while if they have nothing to feed the larvae. Larvae need bee bread, which means they need to have some pollen and honey stored.

Giving them a frame of brood is a brilliant idea, if you have a hive that can spare one. I would also give them a frame of honey and pollen if you have it, then they will let her lay sooner. Personally I used to house swarms on drawn comb, if I had it. Less work for the bees to get going then. I don’t catch swarms any more though, as most around here are africanized. :hushed:


So i took Jeff’s advice and swapped out a couple of frames to help them along.

I gave them a full frame of honey half capped and half almost ready to be capped so they have plenty of food. i also swapped out a frame and gave them a full frame of eggs and young larvae with pollen in the frame for them to use.

So the frames i pulled out one was empty half frame of drawn comb nothing in the cells. the other half frame of drawn comb actually had eggs and small larvae so i clearly didnt look that hard. although i thought this was very interesting! (see photos below) as soon as i saw this i decided to pull this frame. now is there a chance the queen did this or a worker did it? i thought maybe she misfired a couple a times? i would love to know your opinions on this.

Hard to see is some photos. 1 egg laid ontop of a capped honey cell and some cells had 2 or 3 eggs in it. the rest look pretty good and dead centre so I’m hoping it was a couple of misfires.

o well if the workers arent happy im sure they will replace her. time will tell. we will give them a month before the next inspection now.


A cell with more than one egg in it is a good indicator of a laying worker in the hive John. An egg laid on the top of a capped cells, I haven’t seen that happen before. :thinking: It is common for a queen not to lay in every cell of a frame and miss a few cells in an arch.

Thats what i thought but then i also remember hearing that they lay on the wall and not down the bottom if its a worker? all the duplicates are on the bottom of the cell so thats why I’m thinking maybe she is a fresh queen from a secondary swarm which needs practice? :joy: the one on the capped but of honey was a surprise. i guess it was half empty and capped so she though it was a normal cell maybe?

anyways i will reassess in a month. that way i can really see what’s going on.

Actually looks more like pollen stores and was on the side but i may have dislodged it. from memory it was closer to the middle.


Lovely queen and photos. I reckon misfires. It’s her first gig as the queen, give her a chance :joy:

1 Like

I think you and @fffffred are right. Most queens are a bit “clumsy” when they start out. Multiple eggs slightly misplaced are common for a week or so, then they get it right. Professional queen breeders will tell you this, and it is why many of them keep the queens they have mated for a week or two before before selling them. That way customers don’t complain about dud queens! :rofl:

I think a laying worker is unlikely in a “small” hive. I have seen them occasionally with a queen when the hive has multiple supers. However, you have a nice queen there, and laying workers would have likely “balled” her by now, as they think that they are the ruling queen! With a little patience, I think you will find that those eggs turn into workers. If not, then perhaps @Peter48 was right after all. I would be surprised though, as some of the eggs are quite nicely placed.

1 Like

I was thinking a laying worker going on the fact of two or three eggs in some of the cells, but as you and @fffffred say she could be learning her job and having a drop of wine on the side… :wine_glass:
I definately saw the queen on the top bar of the frame in one of the pics and she looks right.

Hi John, I wouldn’t wait a month. I would look in about 9 days time to see how the cappings turns out. You’ll know then whether you have a good or bad queen or a laying worker. That takes all the guesswork & speculation out of it.

If it is a laying worker (which I doubt), the quicker you act, the better.

1 Like

Thankyou all for the comments. So amazing to keep learning in every turn of beekeeping.

@Dawn_SD i actually remember looking at queens to buy in the future and the breeder says they make sure she lays a whole frame before shipping so you can see her pattern etc so that makes sense.

I might try and get to them within a few weeks then to see how they are going but with a bub due in 6 days i might be a bit pressed to go and inspect to see how she is going any sooner than a few weeks.

1 Like