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Is this my hive swarming?


Hi all,
I’ve only been bee keeping for 6 weeks and I opened my flow hive today to check on it and I noticed I have 2 queen cells so they are going to swarm.

Since closing the hive a heap of my bees have stayed outside. I wasn’t sure if it is because it’s a hot day and they are cooling the hive or if this is swarming.

Any help would be appreciated.

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Roughly where on the frames were the queen cells you saw?

On the bottom of the frame(s), or more on the face of the comb?

Also did you notice if these queen cells had been capped (closed up by the bees), or where they still open at the ends? If open did you see any egg/larve in there?

The bees at front could just be hot, but that’s a pretty big beard of them.

What location in the world are you?

Hi Geoff I’m in Newcastle NSW Australia.

The queen cells were on the bottom of the 2 frames and they were still closed. It’s been pouring rain overnight here and they are still there.

Ok sounds highly likely they are preparing to swarm. The best solution is to split your hive before this happens, you can’t really prevent it - at this stage they are committed.

As they are capped time is of the essence.

Zip over to a bee supply shop and buy an empty Nuc box (base/lid/box, or the plastic ones). When it stops raining move 3 frames into the nuc: 1 capped honey, 2 brood which must include the swarm cells, and add 1 empty wired wax foundation frame (also from bee shop).

You must be careful to leave the queen in the box without the swarm cells.

In a few weeks you will have the flow hive plus a nuc with laying queen. If you don’t want a 2nd hive you can easily sell it on Facebook or probably here for $200 - $250. There’s a few beekeeping groups like Backyard Beekeeping Australia that are quite active for this, or FB marketplace, gumtree, etc.

Here’s a description of the process in more detail How to make a swarm-control split - Honey Bee Suite

Most important thing is to act asap because you’ll loose half your bees and a bunch of your honey if they swarm.

Hi Tania, I notice that you spotted 2 queen cells. Generally a colony will build more than 2 queen cells when preparing to swarm.

My thoughts on the beard would be that it happened directly after you closed the hive up, which indicates to me that the bees are outside while other bees are inside tidying things up again. There has been lots of reports of bearding directly after a honey spill onto the brood & bees.

Getting back to the queen cells: when doing the split, check every frame carefully, even if you have to gently shake half of the bees off each frame, so you can get a closer look, because it’s easy to miss the odd queen cell.

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Is this a queen cel?

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no, that doesn’t look like a queen cell. Looks to be disfigured bur comb. Queen cells look like peanuts:

They are ‘loaded’ if capped. Once a queen has emerged or chewed out, it will look like this:

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Hi Fred, there’s an egg in that disfigured bur comb.

I had 2 like this on different frames

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That is also stray comb…

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queen cells look very much like unshelled peanuts. Once you know them you can’t mistake them.

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At least 10 queen cells on one frame- quite the crop of queens there Fred.

Thanks everyone for sharing your knowledge with me. I have split the hive and pray that that will go ok. Fingers crossed xxx

Hi Tania, crossed fingers coupled with prayer only works if you carried out the split in the correct manner. Did you do it with a mentor? When doing a split, you need to make sure that the portion without the queen has worker eggs & or very young worker larvae in which to make a new queen from. Then you need to think about the returning bees from the split going back to the original hive, which can leave the split down on numbers, making it (the brood) vulnerable to hive beetle strike.