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Hive swarmed and caught, what now?


Hi, got a call at 10:00 am today from wife saying yard abuzz (pun intended) with bees what’s happening?
I was at son’s house, told wife they are swarming and to watch them and I immediately headed home, about ten minutes drive. Swarm had settled in tree about 5 metres directly above hive.

After some climbing and rope work managed to box the swarm (video to follow) but what do I do now? I have left the entrance open and the hive next to parent hive.

Do I seal it up now or tonight after dark and move hive to son’s house approx 6 km away?

Will the returning foragers go to into the new hive or will queen and swarm bees return to old hive.

This is my first swarm experience so unsure of next steps.


There are no guarantees. I always place a frame with lots of open brood with the swarm. Most times they stay with the brood & not go elsewhere. The bees wont go back to the original hive once they have swarmed. They may go back if they did a practice swarm, however from my recent experience, that happens fairly quickly. So I’d say your colony did a fair dinkum swarm.

The safest bet would be to take it right away, your son’s place for example. The reason being that the scouts may have already found a spot they prefer. Moving it away will eliminate that risk.

Then the next thing is to try to prevent a caste swarm, if possible.


Jeff has covered with the same advice I would have given you.
After a few weeks you could return the hive back to your place if that was more convenient.
Beware of after swarms, at this time of year the reason your hive swarmed is likely to be that you bees became over crowded for space.
So think forward and give the colony something to do to keep busy. Is there full frames of honey, or are they all full, above the queen excluder. Is the brood box full of brood and consider a split when the colony builds its numbers again.
@Semaphore is in your area and may have the time available to give you an assessment.
Get into a routine of inspecting your bees and being capable of knowing what is likely to happen in the near future, like swarming, that is preventable with good hive management. It is so much better to preempt a likely event than to be on the ‘catch-up plan’.
It might sound like I am being a bit harsh but it is not meant to be, you asked for advice and that is good,


Thanks @JeffH and @Peter48 have moved hive to sons place tonight.

This is the same hive as discussed in Walk away worries

As per that thread I have been performing preemptive swarm prevention on hive but the split was attacked by robbers on 26th Sept. and I placed a robber screen and closed screen entrance, left split closed up for 3 days, opened entrance on 29th some activity at entrance during the week. Checked split yesterday, no queen - dead pupae in capped queen cell torn open, no stores or larvae, 2 frames of bees so decided to recombine with parent hive using newspaper method. As it was 3:00pm I decided not to inspect brood on parent hive and it swarmed this morning.

So in summary
26/7/18 1 frame replaced with foundationless frame
22/8/18 1 frame replaced with foundationless frame
10/9/18 2 frame replaced with foundationless frame / made split
24/9/18 1 frame replaced with foundationless frame / added to split

The flow super was on and just started to see nectar in observation window, so I did try but the hive still swarmed.

As I have observed the main swarm how long before a caste swarm?

Edit: date change


Nobody can tell you when a cast storm can happen without a trained eye and a good understanding of bee habits — then bees being bees can always do something different.
I do weekly inspections and try to pre-empt by the changes since my last inspection, the time of year and recent and present forecasts for the next week to figure out my next move. I also look at the strength of the colony and if the hive is over crowded. I guess I read things pretty well as I so far haven’t had a swarm YET, not to say I haven’t had a close shave more than once.
Using foundationless frames is something I will never use, Some will have a different opinion and they are entitled to it, but for me it is too much unnecessary work and time lost in repairing wonky comb which the bees have spent time and energy making.
Waiting more than a month between inspections is just not good hive management, you will be always playing catch up and you won’t win.
About screening boards, I regard them as a toy once robbing has started. I suggest you move the hive away till it builds up strength. Reduce the hive entrance to about 2 cms and place some leafed foliage further restricting direct access to the hive entrance.


I see you followed the method outlined by that commercial beekeeper at the bee society of rotating out frames prior to spring? I can’t remember his name- the bloke with all the tattoos… I like the idea of his frame rotation methods.

I don’t know a lot about cast swarms but from what I have seen they tend to come not long after the initial swarm-3 to 7 days. When the bees prepare to swarm they start making queen cells- and when the first of these is capped the hive swarms. So over the next 8 days or so those cells that are left will start to emerge. Sometimes the queens just fight it out- but sometimes some of these extra queens leave as secondary after swarm swarms.

I think if I was Dee I would probably tell you to look int he hive and destroy all but one of the queen cells you find (keeping the biggest fattest best looking one). The idea being that cell will become the new queen and no after swarming.

As for myself: I am not sure I know enough to recommend that or not. I’d be worried that lone cell might fail.

lastly: Mum’s hive at Semaphore is booming- and there is a strong flow on- her flow frames are filling up very fast. The bee numbers and activity are very high. I added an extra ideal to give them more room… So I’m not surprised yours boomed too.


Sorry @Peter48 date wrong in post, I did a inspection on the 24th and removed a frame previously added on the 10th which was drawn out and had capped brood about 7 queen cups which I destroyed and added it to the split.

It’s my first spring and I thought I had it under control but goes to show, a steep learning curve. As @Semaphore has stated the flow at the present is full on and my hive seems extra strong, I was trying to leave inspections to two or three weekly but I will take your advise and do weekly until the swarming season settles down.

I like the idea of letting the bees decide what to build cell wise with foundationless and have no big issues as yet, fingers crossed.

Yes, that is what I was attempting to do, maybe I just have excellent wax producing bees. I was going to try an Taranov split this week, but bees had other ideas.

Monday and Tuesday are out for hive inspection for state of queen cells, so maybe this afternoon, just concerned about the split recombination super added Friday, as the split had been robbed would it be possible the odour encouraged the swarming?

I love this as a hobby, keeps you on your toes, expect the unexpected.


I have copies of Wally Shaw swarming pdf so I will look to follow that, which @Dawn_SD suggests.


Sorry I haven’t been around for the last 24 hours, but I was flying halfway around the world for the most of that time. I totally agree with following Wally’s advice. I certainly can’t offer anything better.



If I think a swarm is imminent or even probable I split the hive heavy, leaving the queen with the least bees. Maybe a weakish nuc of bees. If she leaves she leaves. They will probably stay. If flow is strong a queen less strong hive will make more honey…9 days or less after queenless all brood is capped leaving weeks of nothing to do but make honey until new queen starts laying Otherwise I make several splits and each get a queen cell or two and most of the bees. Some people like to make honey, I like to make bees. I still get plenty of honey in the process.


I too did a preemptive split in early Sept but I did not ignore the split for 4 weeks as the text book said. Starting with 3 frames: 1 egg/larvae, 1 capped brood and 1 honey/pollen into 8 frames box plus shake 1-2 frames of nurse bees.

I would open on the day 4th to knock out any capped Queen cells and leave all opened Q-cells there… On day 12-14, make sure I add 1 capped brood frame plus 1 capped/food frame from my 2 hives … On day 18th add another capped brood frame, then another capped brood frame on 24th. Come back on 28th to check for eggs… Or add another capped brood frame… Try to mark the young Queen, may be un-sucess as so many bees cramping into 6-7 frames there. I may come back a few days until all spread out 8 frames evenly to search for the young Queen to look for her…

The whole process removed 6-7 frames out within 4 weeks period and it made the mother hives steadily expand. Last season I did the split from 1 hive and my mother hive gone bonker with nectars storing in the flow frames in the same time. I ended up splitted it 2 more times (4 hives in the end) and still produced 43kgs of honey. This year I came out of winter with 2 strong hives and did same thing but I delay the 2nd split hive for 2 weeks after the 1st split done… This year I am planning to split once on each hive only, as soon as my split hive built up, I will merge back to run a double brood boxes hive to boost the hive population and filling up the flow super quickly I hope! So far they are pumping in nectars into the flow frames daily with a single brood box below, the Flow super gets heavier and heavier each time I lifted and I will soon unable to lift it off as a whole.

I do use foundationless frames regardless of any dis-encourgement as I believe the natural balance do bring positive effects, you can slow them down a little as @JeffH said with foundationless but I think the bees will draw out natural combs as quick as anything else if they need to get it done asap, I let the bees make drones as they need to, as long as I maintain a strong hive most times with frames rotation, pest should be under control…

I did inspect mostly every 7 days, sometime 10 days, one time up to 12 days and always be carefully search for Q-cells… My hives also build up heaps of Q-cups and I usually knocked them out with my J tool to ensure I can see everything inside, all are emptied so far and I understand it’s part of being Spring activities.

It’s very common for a 2nd year hive to get swarm so don’t feel bad if that happened. We all live and learn. The key is to understand what inside the hive after each inspection, observing the changes weekly by recording the statistic of individual frame, think about it when you analyse later on, take notes then take appropriate action at the next or on the spot during inspection.

You can always rotate the frames forth and back between 2 hives of new and old ones to maintain a balance on population and strength. I always alternate the brand new foundationless frames between 2 drawn out frames and never had to do any alignment once I added it. The bees just drawn out straight down perfectly to my surprise given a plain basic frame, without any assistance like wax, starter wood strip nor wax foundation, etc… They would do whatever required for the Queen to lay as soon as you give them an empty frame and they will work out the gaps without any wonkiness.


@Bubba, you haven’t taken into account the 2nd, 3rd or 4th swarm may happen if it is a strong hive, it can continuously swarm until it dies out . I don’t think letting your hive swarm without concerns is an assurance… Yesterday I picked up a 2nd and 3rd swarm in 2 hours apart which came from the lady’s next door neglecting their hive, it landed on the same spot as soon as I left. We are expecting more swarms there soon.


Sometimes the text books are correct. I have found after doing many splits that I get a better success rate of mated queens by leaving them alone for 4 weeks. That’s just my experience & I’m not surprised that the text books say to leave them alone.


Hi Dani @Chislen and @Bubba in hindsight I should have split the hive more heavily, but as I only had the one hive and being my first spring I was hesitant, 5 frames changed out over a period of 2 months didn’t do the trick, I will take it as lesson learnt and tackle the cast swarms prevention.

I do keep notes on each inspection and slowly getting to understanding whats happening with the help of all the great assistance from this forum.


If the strong hive is queen less it is not getting stronger it is getting weaker. A queen less hive will not swarm. I do not scrape off large surplus capped queen cells. I harvest and put in small nuc as a queen bank. When swarming season is strong I put out 10 or 15 swarm boxes around town and catch as many as I want. Usually around 20 then I run out of boxes and energy. I realise some only want a few hives but it is possible to build a 40 or 50 hive apiary from scratch in one season catching swarms and making splits if you live in right area. You just need the boxes and somewhere to put them. If I loose a hive now and then I do not care. I just catch or make another


I agree @Bubba, you can build a 40-50 hive apiary from scratch in a season, if you live in the right area of course.


This is proven the text book is wrong when this lady opens up her split 30 days later to find out the population dwindle down and no egg. It could be a lemon Queen if she got the Queen which made from an old larvae!


Remember what I said: “I get a better success rate by leaving them alone for 4 weeks”. You get failures with both methods. The thing is: I get less failures by leaving them alone for 4 weeks. There will always be failures. It’s what happens in the natural world also.

Four weeks is an ideal time to check. If we get a failure, we still have time to intervene before a worker starts laying. A failure is not the end of the world. It just means we have to wait another 4 weeks before we get a mated queen.

This is why we suggest having multiple hives. Even a couple of single super donor hives are ideal. It’s easy to grab a frame of brood or two without lifting honey supers. A donor hive could be a recently caught swarm, for example. Or it could be an observation hive (like mine) that needs weakening out from time to time.


Talking about failures, I had done many including killing the Queen during extraction because I was stupidly listened to someone whom is not so much a fan of a Queen Excluder. Lucky I was successfully raising a brand new Queen in my split at the time to quickly introduce her to the queenless flow hive and swapped out the emergency queen cells frame back to the split again.


Well done, you’re learning from experience. Beekeeping is a loooooong learn curve…

Yeah well, if you’re going to not use a QX, as you found out, you need to be on the lookout for her from the very time you take the lid off. Then, if you consider that roughly 50% of a hive is normally above a QX, by not having one, that doubles our chances of accidentally killing her.

Anyway, cheers

PS, don’t be too hard on text books. I’m sure they are written after lots of experience with trial & error.