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Multiple swarms


Hi. We were lucky enough to have an enormous swarm settle just outside the garage. We housed it in the Flow hive, a bit hastily. A week later, and another swarm arrived under a pallet in the garage, which we housed in an emergency in a Langstroth hive and relocated to be neighbours with the Flow. Now there’s a third swarm under another pallet in the garage!! Are there 3 separate queens? We’re new to this and aren’t sure we understand what’s going on! The 2 newly housed swarms have settled and are enthusiastically making comb, filling with honey, investing in the flow roof (they seem to like attic life)… we relocated the pallet with the third swarm out of the garage but aren’t sure what to do next, bees are still clustering around the site. Any suggestions from you experienced bee keepers?


You simply have three swarms.
As the second came a week after the first, it and the third may be casts from the same hive. The first will have a mated queen and the subsequent ones will have a virgin queen. Sometimes a strong colony may afterswarm itself to death but more commonly settles down. You either have a very successful wild nest nearby or a very lax beekeeper.
You have bees clustering around as you didn’t get all the bees or you may not have got the queen.


What you could do is put the third hive in the spot where the bees are clustering. They will move in. Then you can slowly move the hive in stages to where you want it to eventually sit.


JeffH has given you sound advise. Let them settle in for a week and check for queens and if they are laying then you will have a better idea of what you have to work with.
It sounds like you have a lazy bee keeper in your area not doing himself any favors to himself or the bees. The 2nd and 3rd swarms may or may not have mated queens as they may or may not have come from the same hive as the original swarm. Give them time to settle in and then check for Queens.
It is not uncommon the find swarms at the same locations for some reason.
If you find queenless swarms you could do the newspaper trick to add them to a hive with a queen. Keep an eye on your own hive as it sounds like it is swarming season in your area.


To stop them building in the “attic” you should place a “ceiling” in the hive resting on the top of the super frames. It can be a piece of lino (linoleum), thin plywood, a piece of old carpet, got the idea. Cut it about 5 Cm’s short in length and width so that there is still good ventilation. The bees will regard that as the top of the hive and they will begin working on comb on the frames as they should. A bees natural instinct is to build comb from the top down.
Hope that is of help


there must be a large hive very near to your house somewhere- and it’s likely all three swarms came from it. Was the first swarm the largest by far? If so that’s probably the ‘primary swarm’ and contains an old queen. The next are likely ‘secondary swarms’ and contain unmated virgin queens. The first one will probably grow the fastest as the queen is already mated.

If that’s what’s happened expect to see eggs and larvae in the first one very quickly- and no eggs in the other two for a few weeks.

Last swarm season I caught three swarms from one yard- they had all come from the one hive that was there and were staggered a week apart.


Ah, I see, thank you for your response. I just wasn’t sure what exactly I was seeing. We live in a rural location, so could be either case - lazy local or wild nest. They seem very calm and easy to handle so far.


That’s what we did, successfully, with the first hive. The second one we moved a bit faster with, but the stragglers weren’t so numerous. We can get in the garage again now! Thanks, Jeff.


Thanks, Peter. We put the crown board on (having left it off, in our hastiness when we set the hive up). Would you leave them, though, to just do their own thing, as they seem to like high rise living under the rafters? I don’t so much like the idea of disturbing them and destroying their work by removing the comb from the roof.


Thanks, Jack. Yes, the first was very large, noisy and a bit scary for a novice, but we suited up, and placed the hive under them. They’d very conveniently settled under the edge of a table, so we could simply thwack the table top and they all fell into the hive. Both hives are thriving, so it seems and we’ve yet to see eggs in the secondary one, as you say. Thanks for your advice. We’re novices and in an area where it’s difficult to find good contacts.


I would remove any comb above the top box of frames and fit the crown board. You would be doing the right thing to remove the comb from the roof, letting the bees do what is natural for them in the wild is to build from the top down. But in a hive if they do that they will build comb from the roof down to the frames first, believe me you don’t want that. Time for you put the crown board in place, it was supplied for a reason. If the crown board has a hole in the middle you might need to cover the hole till they get the idea of using the comb.
A welcome to the forum, there is people here that are happy to give advice and remember no question is a silly one if you don’t know the answer to it.
Regards Cerita


Thanks for your advice, Peter, much appreciated. We’ll deal with it at the weekend.