Honeyflow.com | FAQ's |

Has my hive swarmed

Hi beekeepers

I was a bit late doing my first spring inspection (did it today) as the weather has been either too cold or too windy. Perhaps I was a bit too conservative about judging these factors.

Anyway the hive is packed with bees and they have built comb in every available space including the roof (which I had the inner cover hole blocked but has some how come open )

I found 6 queen cells which where open and have what looks like snot inside. In the worker cells I found eggs in some of the cells, some small and large larvae and a lot of capped brood and drone cells.

My question is has my queen already swarmed, died or gone walkabout or is she about to swarm? I couldn’t find her but I’ve only found her once as I’m still a newbie at spotting her.

I put the super on top and closed up the hive. I was thinking of moving the frames with queen cells into a nuc box to start a 2nd hive. But thought it was probably safer if I left them in the main hive incase the original queen had already gone.

Did I do the right thing. Please comment with your thoughts they will be very much appreciated.

I would think that they have not swarmed yet, but that they are about to.

You have eggs and small larvae so that confirms that the queen was there at least three days ago. The queen cells are not closed and they don’t have the appearance of a cell from which a virgin queen has emerged (a very neat circular cut at the end).
The snot that you describe is probably royal jelly.
You don’t have much time to act. The colony typically swarms with the old queen when the first new queen cell gets sealed, assuming weather conditions are good.

Read this. its the best guide for your situation.

1 Like

Hi Jason, if your hive swarmed you should be the first to know because you’ll see a huge reduction in bee numbers.

When I find that I remove every brood frame, with bees, minus the queen into another brood box, while breaking every queen cell down, bar the one with the least amount of sealed brood (minus queen cells), placed in the middle, flanked by frames containing fresh foundation.

Others would suggest to leave just one queen cell in the split, which I tend to agree with. Take the split to another location so that no bees return.

That strategy usually does the trick at preventing a colony from swarming. As Jim suggests, you’ll need to act quickly.

You need to make sure that there are eggs or very young larvae in that frame you leave behind, just in case you took the queen with the split, or you inadvertently killed her.

1 Like

Thanks for your help.

Looks like the sun is out today so I’ll do the split.

I’m a bit nervous about being able to find the Queen as the hive is very full.

Hi Jason, good luck with that. I don’t think you had much choice on the weather. It had to be done sooner, rather than later.

Your lack of confidence in spotting the queen is a good reason for leaving that single brood frames with eggs & young larvae. That’s assuming you are going with my method.

Queens can be hard to spot in a populous hive. Sometimes you just get lucky. Other times you look over every frame twice & still not find her.

When doing a split, I just carefully look over every frame I’m taking several times before placing it into the new brood box. If there is way too many bees, I’ll gently shake some back to make it easier for queen spotting.

Sometimes I’ll get lucky & spot a queen on a frame as I’m lifting it out. Then you wonder how they can be so hard to spot on other occasions…

1 Like

I thoroughly checked every frame that I removed and didn’t see the queen. So now all the queen cells are in the nuc and hopefully the queen is still in the main hive.

I’ll open the main hive in a week or 2 to check for eggs.

How long before the new queen hatches, mates and lays. Is there any point checking the nuc before then.

1 Like

Hi Jason, I might sound like a nagger now. Did you take the nuc far enough away so that no bees return to the main hive? Also are you going to remove all the queen cells bar one? Otherwise the nuc will most likely swarm with the first virgin queen to emerge, seeing as the bees are in swarm mode. You could probably split the nuc 3 ways, like I do. If you break it down into smaller colonies, with queen cells in each one, they are not likely to swarm.

You probably should check on the main hive in about 5 days. Then you’ll see if the colony still wants to swarm or not. Also to see if the queen is in there. You’ll know if the queen is present by inspecting that frame of brood. If you see no emergency queen cells, you’ll know the queen is there. Emergency queen cells are different to swarm cells, in that they are created within the brood, not separate to the brood.

Definitely not a nag. I became a beekeeper at a bad time when covid restrictions meant I couldn’t go to any beekeeping clubs to learn. You can only learn so much from books and videos. So I am very appreciative of any advice.

I couldn’t move the nuc very far as my main hive, and now the nuc, are on the roof of my carport. This is really the only spot that where I can keep it away from my curious 18-month-old.

I didn’t remove the other queen cells just in case I had damaged some moving them in and out. I didn’t realize that a new queen could still swarm. I should be able to remove an empty frame and make enough room to reach in with my hive tool and squash the extra ones.

I didn’t realize you could make a whole new colony from just one frame. Next time I’ll make sure I have more boxes.

Thanks again for all the help.

Hi & you’re welcome Jason. Beekeeping is one long, I think never ending learning curve. Stick with this forum, you’ll get good advice here, even with covid.

Because you didn’t move the split away, you’ll need to monitor the population just to make sure that enough bees stay behind to keep the brood warm. I think it was @fffffred that recently had trouble with chilled brood because too many bees went back to the parent hive. When I say that it needs to be taken away, I’m talking quite a few k’s away, or double the distance of what you think the bees foraging range would be & way too far for a curious18-month-old. That way the foraging bees wont come across any familiar terrain which will entice them back to the old hive.


I see. Thanks for the explanation

I’ll keep an eye on the numbers

1 Like