Honeyflow.com | FAQ's |

I think my hive is about to swarm or did already. NEED HELP! (QUEEN BEE PIPING w/ VIDEO)

Hello everyone!

This is our first time writing on the forums and we’re here in need of some help!

So we did a bee inspection today, It was actually our first one of 2021! We live in Ontario Canada and this will be our second year of beekeeping. So my girlfriend and I opened up our hive to find a couple of interesting things. Firstly we find varroa mites! We found a red dot on the back of one of our drones and also some deformed wings in a young bee (see photo (drone right above my finger)), We’ve already picked up some treatment which we will start tomorrow. Other than that we found a lot of queen cells, Some of these queen cells were in the middle of the frame but others were near the end. Our first reaction was to start breaking the cells open and taking the larva out, as we got more towards the center of the hive we started to hear what we believe is queen bee piping (see video linked below) from one of the previous frames that we didn’t break the queen’s cells on (the reason we didn’t break these ones yet was that we thought if we can’t find the queen, which we didn’t, we’d leave them). After inspecting the frame we think we heard the piping coming from still no sign of a queen so we wrapped it up. I’m worried we either had a swarm or we have signs of one coming or maybe the previous week is being super siege. We’re also afraid that the cells we already destroyed could affect the super siege if that is what was happening. Any advice or things we should be looking for / doing?

VIDEO OF PIPING: Queen bee piping! - YouTube


Queen cells

Queen cells broken:

I wasn’t able to hear the piping, however that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

I can see a cell that a queen emerged from also I think I can see a cell where the queen got killed from the side of a cell. The fact that queens are emerging would indicate to me that the colony has already swarmed.

I would just close it up & keep an eye out for any caste swarms that may issue, if any. They don’t always issue caste swarms.

I would also be looking to cycle some of the old combs out. The ones with a lot of drone comb, like in your photos.


Hey! Thanks for the reply, I just want to make sure that in those photos of the queen cells that is the process of us cracking it open. the first link is what it looked like before the other two links where we cut it open. Could you point out the areas where you saw the queen got killed?

What are signs of a caste swarm? This is my first time hearing about it!

To cycle these out should we just scrape it clean and put it back in the hive? or do we need to take the frame and replace it completely?

if you skip to 25 seconds in the video you can just barely hear it under the wind, sounds like a croaking sound!

Hello and welcome to the Flow forum! :blush:

That is VERY bad news. If you can actually see them on the bees, you already have a very heavy infestation. If you have bees with deformed wings (DWV), you need to act fast, as most of those hive will demise within 6 months. Do you have a varroa treatment and monitoring plan? What are you going to use for the treatment? How will you know whether it worked (sugar roll or alcohol wash counts are best)? Just trying to help.

There are a couple of excellent articles which tell you what to do about queen cells. Destroying them is no longer the accepted wisdom for swarm prevention, as it often does not prevent swarming, and may leave you with a queenless hive. Here are the links, one article is quite large and may take a while to download:

Like @JeffH, I couldn’t hear the piping either. However, here is an article which tells you a bit about piping and quacking, and what they sound like and what they mean:

I highly recommend the modified Snelgrove split (I think it is on page 24 of the swarm article) for swarm prevention. It sounds complicated, but that is only because they wrote detailed instructions on how to do it. It really isn’t. If you don’t want two hives, you can sell one, or recombine them later. :wink:

Please ask if you have more questions. We all try to be friendly here! :blush:

One more thought. From the number of bees in your video, I don’t think that the hive has swarmed, yet…


Hello and thank you so much for the reply!

Okay so here is our plan of action, We are going to open the hive tomorrow with my good friend who has been beekeeping for 10+ years. We’re going to attempt to find the queen and make a split if possible. I also will start our treatment which is Apivar strips, our local bee shop said this is the best thing we can start with as the temperature isn’t stable enough to start anything else. If we do open the hive and find the queen would it be okay to do the split? (as long as we have cells still). Also, opening the hive to start treating with Apivar stips, will this affect the hive if it is in fact a virgin queen? We never thought our hive could have a big mite problem without seeing them so I guess it’s best we start ASAP especially if they did swarm there should be a brood pause during the queen’s matting trip… correct?

Thanks for all the resources, I’m going to take a look at them tonight with my girlfriend!

we were also thinking about setting up some swarm traps we made last year in our backyard incase they’re about to swarm.

If you split, I would wait before treating. Maybe 2 or 3 weeks. If you don’t split I would treat right away. Apivar is a good choice if you haven’t used it before, and you are not going to super the hive for 6 weeks.

Yes, per the articles I posted earlier.

It might, I would not treat a split until 3 weeks after the split. You don’t want them to abscond etc.

Common perception, but completely wrong. By the time you see them, they are running riot. I really like using something that isn’t approved yet, but works very well and is “organic” in concept:

Hope that helps! You are asking great questions, so keep it up if you need more info! :blush:

Thanks again for the reply, we’re going to check the hive out tomorrow and record it all (as we normally do) I’ll let you know how it goes once we do!

1 Like

Okay so here’s what happened,

We opened up the hive! Found some capped queen cells and also found the queen thankfully. We split the hive in a 5 frame nuke box with the queen and left the queen cells in the original hive. We also set up a swam trap to catch any swarms that may occur. We also started treatment on BOTH hives. After some research, it seems you can treat with the strips with queen cells and virgin queens. Both hives are starting treatment for 42 days!

1 Like

Does anyone know how long it takes for bees to start flying outside of the hive after a split? We haven’t bothered the bees but we see one pop its head out the front entrance a couple of times but no action going in and out. Are they just getting used to the place?

If you took the split far enough away so that no bees can return to the parent hive, the bees will start working the entrance straight away. If you left the split near the parent hive, the bees that have done orientation flights will return to the parent hive. You will have to wait for new bees to do orientation flights before you see any bees working the entrance. Added to that, it depends on how much the brood needs attention as to how many bees are able to go outside the hive.

Hey Jeff, the hive is about 12ft away from the hive and we put about 2 frames of brood inside. Do you think this is far enough?

Hi Ian, no, 12 feet in not far enough to prevent bees from going back to the original hive. It needs to be the foraging range times two. For example: If you think your bees are foraging 1.5ks to get their honey, it needs to be 3ks away to make absolutely certain that no bees fly into familiar terrain. If they do, even though they have re-orientated to the new location, they’ll fly back to the old hive.

You might only have enough bees left to look after those two frames of brood, so therefore you wont see much action until the population has swelled.

What those two frames of brood possess will determine how quickly the population builds. Ideally they need to be full of worker brood, especially sealed & emerging bees.

Awesome, Thanks for the confirmation. I appreciate it a lot! I so I should see bees within 4-5 days roughly?

Yes, that would be correct Ian. How much activity you see will depend on how many nurse bees you included when you did the split, as well as how many bees will emerge out of those 2 frames going forward.

Literally the next day after you responded we saw action at the front door! Lots of it too!