I have a strong hive single brood that came through winter well. So well I opened it up in winter and removed some honey frames to give them more space. Then I inspected early to ensure no swarm signs- and saw none. 10 days later it swarmed- a big primary swarm that I caught and took away. The same day I looked in the hive and found many queen cells. So I immediately made a split and removed 4 of the 8 brood frames, leaving only one cell in the mother hive. I gave them 4 new combs to work. about 14 days later- it swarmed again- this time the swarm only formed loosely in my neighbors yard and then flew straight back into the hive. I looked in again: I saw one young queen- and one capped queen cell. I destroyed the queen cell. There were no other queen cells and no young larvae or eggs to make any more with only some mature capped brood about to emerge.
Now today- about 6 days later it has swarmed again. I have caught them- only a mid-size swarm this time.
all the while the main population seems strong and still bringing in pollen as half the bees swarmed.
This hive has me stumped as I have done just about every swarm prevention method I can think of.
I assume there must have been more than one virgin queen last time I looked - that’s the only explanation I can think of for todays swarm.
Oh- and I have question that may actually have an answer: is there any place in a swarm cluster where the queen is most likely to be? I have always assumed it is probably somewhere near the top of the cluster but I have never been able to spot a queen within the cluster. It would be so handy to be able to catch the queen, I have looked but never see them. Do any of you fellow swarm catchers routinely hunt down and find the queen? Do you have any methods you could share?