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Hiving up a swarm


I use swarm trap boxes I made myself. Each box contains old frames with drawn comb and empty frames to allow the caught bees to draw their own comb. I would like to hear from experienced swarm catchers when they feel is the best time to hive up a swarm catch and if the queen should be replaced.


Hi Bob, depends on the size of the swarm for me… if I old brood frames I will use them, as it helps to settle the swarm. Sometimes I will take a brood frame with capped brood and a honey frame from an established hive to also settle the swarm (especially if they are without a queen) in a 5 frame Nuc leave them for a few days and then introduce eggs to entice a queen cell. I’ll leave them until all 5 frames are full then move to a 10 frame box. After a month or two you should be able to guage the temperament and productivity of the queen. I like to leave an established queen alone unless she is not right (not a good layer or temperament) this needs time to assess. I figure she has 4-5 years of life so no need to replace her unless something is wrong.


My swarms get moved the first night and hived the following day. They get a frame of open brood which prevents them absconding and which saves weeks if they are queen less. I like to see what I’ve got and find it quite exciting to get new bees. A big colony can behave quite differently to a calm pleasant nuc. If I don’t like them I’ll replace the queen but I give them a chance to grow.


Thanks Rod, I usually do the 5 frame nuc transfer as you suggest. My dilema is that a July swarm is fairly late for our zone 3b and there is not much time to build the colony to make it winter worthy. Most often I try to get as many brood frames as possible and introduce them to other colonies in need. We are just starting the golden rod/aster flow so once I hive up I’m not keen on disturbing their production. Once the flow is over (first week of September, I treat with maqs for 7 days. Then combine the frames euthanizing the queen. I’m always caught between hiving up immediately after catching the swarm or allowing them to settle in, build comb and brood. I was interested in what others do and find more successful. Thanks again for your reply

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Thanks Dee, I’ve never added a frame of open brood. I’ve always assumed if I left the swarm in the trap box long enough for the queen to lay brood and then transfer to a 5 frame nuc they won’t abscond and so far it has worked out that way. Adding another frame of brood is definitely a plus but a minus for the donor. I’m a hobby beekeeper with 4 to 5 colonies and struggle each year trying to minimize my losses from a very long winter ( 6 months zone 3b). Your comments are very appreciated and will definitely occupy my thoughts. Thanks again. Bee safe!

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