Missing Bees! First year swarm?

Purchased a nuc of bees on April 21st. Added super a week later. As of this past weekend (May 28) the super was completely full, but not capped. When looking in the side windows you couldn’t hardly see the flow frame because of how many bees were on it. When I looked in the window yesterday the super was still full of uncapped honey but there were very few bees (maybe 30 on the outside frame). Still a lot of activity flying in and out of the hive but very few bees visible through the windows. Is it possible that they swarmed?

They might’ve swarmed, but if you’ve been checking in on your hive frequently then you probably would’ve noticed swarming behavior, such as the whole entrance being used by forager bees or a really high population in the hive. If you never noticed this, you might need to check if the bees have a queen or not. I’m also a relatively new beekeeper, but these are my guesses as to what’s happening.

Your colony may have swarmed. You need to do a brood check to see if there are any swarm cells. Do you have a local mentor? If not, we can help if you tell us what you find, coupled with some photos. Also welcome to the forum.

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Thanks Jeff. I do have someone locally to help me. I opened it up yesterday and did find swarm cells. I made a rookie mistake in thinking that I didn’t have to worry about them swarming in the first 6 weeks of having a hive.

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Hi Rumrunner, I don’t see that as a rookie mistake, on account that I’ve seen experienced beekeepers suggest that colonies are not likely to swarm with a first year queen. It’s worth bearing in mind that swarming is how bees reproduce. Therefore when the conditions are right for bees to reproduce, they’ll go ahead & do it.

During swarm season, I don’t let my honey supers get much more than 2/3rds full of bees. That’s when I’ll do preemptive swarm control splits, while removing most of the sealed brood, which puts a temporary pause to the population growth, & buys me a few good weeks before I need to inspect again.

That’s a great idea. I will definitely do that next year. Fortunately I’m only doing this as a hobby so this is just a minor set back and a major learning experience.

hi runner honestly bees will swarm regardless you need to keep reguler checks dureing spring and summer for swaqming tendancys if you see more than 2 swarmcells thay may be makeing tham selfs ready to swarm so i would say a week befor spring check for swarm cells if you see any id recomend you do a split this will reduce the chance of swarming