I walked outside towards my hive and heard a mighty roar, looked up about 30 feet from my hive to see a huge circular swarm of bees. The sky was actually black with bees. I watched them land about 25 feet up in a tree right in front of me. I thought oh no, my bees have just swarmed. I then went over to my hive and there were several bees on the landing board. My wife and I then took the hive apart and did a hive inspection. There were still a ton of bees in the hive just like before. I did notice that there were about 9 queen cells throughout the hive. All of the queen cells were at the bottom of the frames. There were a lot of bee larvae, brood, some pollen and tons of honey. I made some bad rookie mistakes. I cut out all of those queen cells. I should have left a couple in there. We looked for our queen and did not see her, so maybe that was my bees that swarmed. I called a couple of swarm chasers over to capture the swarm and the first one thinks it was from my hive but was surprised at how many bees were up in that tree. He estimated probably 4 to 5 pounds of bees. He could not get up so high so he left. Another guy came over and as we were looking up at them they took flight. We followed them through the woods but could not keep up with them. I guess now I will inspect once a week to see if a new queen cell emerges. I have learned from other bee keepers that with all the rain that we’ve had this spring that there has been a monster nectar flow and that a lot of hives have either had to be split do to the hives becoming honey bound or there bees have swarmed. What should I be doing at this point. I do realize that that swarm could just be a wild swarm and not my bees. What should I be doing now. I’m not giving up.
Others will reply soon, but you will need to watch for further swarms issuing from the hive and probably do something now to mitigate your potential loss from further swarms.
It is possible too perhaps that you missed the prime swarm (you might not have been home etc) and what you saw was an afterswarm. The first beehive in Tasmania in the early 1800’s is said to have issued 18 swarms. I guess there was not much competition for the nectar.
As long as you left at least one of the queen cells you should be ok.
Nope, I got rid of all of the queen cells I saw.
Hi Chris, it’s ok if you broke all of the queen cells down as long as the colony still has the ability to produce emergency queen cells. It depends on how long before the swarm issued that the queen stopped laying. Look in about 4 days for emergency queen cells. If you don’t find any & you’re positive that you broke every swarm queen cell down, you’ll need to give them a frame of brood so they can make a new queen.
With emergency queen cells, I don’t break any down. I let the strongest one survive through natural selection. They are very unlikely to swarm with emergency queen cells. Anyway that’s my experience.
Hi Jeff, there are frames of brood in there. I can see larvae, the little dudes that look like the letter c. So I guess just take a look in another 4 days or so. To see if any emergency queen cells are being developed, as you say. The really weird thing is that I can’t be possitive that the swarm I saw is my bees because of the number of bees in that swarm and the number of bees still in my boxes. The numbers just don’t seem to add up.
Hi Chris, did you see any eggs in the cells at all?
I had a hive swarm twice and there were still so many bees left in the hive, I was worried about a third swarm. The prime swarm was huge too - basketball and a half. The prime swarm was so big it could barely get itself a few metres from the hive and barely above waist height. The afterswarm looked more like the one in your photo.
All is not lost
Look in three days. Remove ALL capped queen cells which would have been made on older larvae so not as well fed. Choose one good looking open cell. Mark it. Remove all the others. Go back in another three days and take away any more they might make. This will ensure you do not have an afterswarm leave, further weakening the colony. Leave alone for three weeks. Good luck.
pS do not shake bees off frame with your marked cell. Brush them off or you will dislodge the larva from its food.
Then have a read here
Make sure the “little dudes” are no larger than the one circled in my picture and preferably smaller. If I were grafting, I would skip that one.
Thanks folks. Nice article Dee.
Ok- so can we now agree that bee larvae can officially be called ‘little dudes’?
… apiary report: eggs, little dudes, capped dudes, queen, honey, pollen…
Dee- why kill more queens? Why not let the bees decide? If some queens are inferior- in general -won’t the bees be better placed to decide who gets the chop?
I can understand some swarm prevention measures that involve regicide- but in this case isn’t it too late for that?
Lol, I like the term little dudes.
Because some colonies will afterswarm themselves to non existence and even a couple of swarms will seriously weaken the colony. The bees let one virgin emerge but corral the others. They swarm when she is ready to fly then they let one more go.
Jeff, that is what size some of the little dudes are.
I think worker brood should be called “dudettes”
If you see eggs you are good and there must be a queen in the hive somewhere.
Hi Chris, sorry for not replying earlier, nothing showed up in my inbox. What size “little dudes”?, I think you’re asking for making emergency queens. The bees can make emergency queen cells from anything from newly laid eggs (fertile) to grubs that have only been fed on royal jelly, up to 3 days after hatching.
Whether you break every cell down except for one or let the bees sort it out will be your call.
The only time I have had bees swarm with emergency queen cells, is if the colony is bursting at the seams with bees. It is amazing how quickly a colony can grow if there are a few frames of brood ready to break out.
If I see any colony that looks like it’s getting ready to swarm but hasn’t got any eggs laid in queen cells, the first thing I do is remove fully capped brood frames, then replace them with fresh foundation in a checkerboard fashion.
It’s all of the hatching bees from those brood frames, in the coming days that makes all the difference as to whether a hive swarms now, or postpones it for a little while.
Hi folks, well, I did an inspection yesterday pops big swarm. I did not see a queen, does not mean one is not there but I don’t think so. There are a ton of bees in the hive and they are really fat, looks like twice their normal size which means they are full of honey or nectar. I also noticed that they made only 4 new queen swarm cells. I got rid of the two smallest ones leaving two there. I also noticed that nearly every frame has honey on it. It did not look like there is any room for a new emerging queen to lay any new eggs. So, should I do a hive split now and put in some new blank frames for the queen so that she does not swarm do to lack of blank comb to lay new little dudes in? My next question is why don’t they store all this honey up in th honey super??? Will they not use the honey super this year? Note, I watched the bees landing on the landing board and they were fat with nectar so I think the reason that I saw all the fat bees were that they were bringing it in and not robbing, preparing for another swarm?
A little more info is needed
Are there eggs present?
Were the queen cells open or capped?
When did you last look in?
Fat bees are probably drones. Workers do not appear bigger even carrying a whole stomach of nectar