New to beekeeping, worried about swarming

Tom here. I’m new to beekeeping. Just today I recived my package from Flow, which came with a Flow Hive, Smoker, Beesuit and tools. I’m going to build the Hive tomorrow. Like most people I’ve been spending the past month learning what I can on the internet about beekeeping. There is just one thing that I can’t seem to get my head around how I will solve.

And that is swarming. So I know that the bees can swarm off out of the Hive, and I’ve heard once they have you cannot return them to said Hive. So in the event I see my bees about to swarm/ showing signs of swarming what do I do? So I just have a few questions below:

People suggest splitting the hive to give more room and create a second hive. I’m new to beekeeping with only one hive, so how would I go about doing that?

Another way I’ve seen is to replace the panels of brood with new empty panels, if so what would I do with the panels that have the brood comb in them? Take the broodcomb out and use them again?

And finally I’ve seen that requeening could do the trick, would that be viable for a new beekeeper though?

I am interested to see how people go about this since most of the time I’ve seen around the web to split, but like I stated I only have a single hive so I couldn’t split them anywhere.

I’ve seen that they can swarm out quickly, so I just don’t want to ruin my new hive in the future and I’m happy with everything about keeping the bees just this one thing has been on my mind!


Starting with two hives instead of one really gives you more options…but if that’s not practical, just give it your best shot. It took me two years to just over come the instinct of tensing up when I heard the buzz of bees.


There are other methods than splitting to help control swarming proactively. These include rotating frames between a brood box and super to ensure the queen has space to lay, having queens that have been selected to be low swarmers and to requeen every couple of years so that you have young queens.

Enjoy learning to care for your bees.

1 Like

also you can sell a split that you don’t need.

1 Like

Hi Bonun

You also have the option to add a second brood box (or super) to give your colony extra space and prolong their disinterest in swarming.

Also keep in mind that staying on top of harvesting i.e. avoiding the colony reaching capacity in the super, can also avoid the need to swarm.

Its good that you are reading up efore getting your bees. Try to join a local association or club if there is one and do make contact with local beekeepers. Ask one of them to show you how to actually manipulate the frames and the bees. Good manipulation makes a huge difference to how the bees behave when you inspect them. You cant beat hands on experience.

There is no fool proof way to prevent swarming.
Some ways do reduce the risk of swarming - adding more brood space, splitting etc
Some ways trick the bees into thinking that have already swarmed - doing an artificial swarm (pagden method)
What does not work is breaking down queen cells; once bees have decided to swarm they will most likely do it, hence the use of the artificial swarm method.

These booklets are good, but you might need to read them several times as they are full of practical information.

These are wrritten for Northern Hemispehere so you will have to adjust the seasons.

1 Like

Thank you all for responses! I’ll first off say I decided to get a flow Hive due to how it is easier to harvest without having to use a spinner and the such. It seems getting two beehives is the more favourable option for new beeks, but getting two Flows seems very $$$.

THank you for the info I shall be reading over these! My workfriend is a Beek himself, I think he is commercial beek too, so when he delivers the bees he will be giving me a crash course.

I’m just worried I might lose my hive!

I started my Flow hive this time last year. Total novice. My understanding was that it takes quite a while for bee numbers to grow before they will swarm so was not even on my mind. I thought all those bees hanging around outside were just taking in the scenery. Well I had my first swarm after just 8 weeks of having my bees. Saw them go to… quite impressive. But not great for honey production, that was it for that season. At that point I was not able to recognise a queen cell if I fell over one…I had 7 queen cells when my hive was inspected soon afterwards by my local apiarist

Fast forward to this September, me being really careful now , looking for queen cells carefully… and …another swarm. Must have missed a QC. This time hardly any bees outside before the swarm.

One thing I observed both times was … the sudden and rapid removal of honey from the Super in the 48 hours before the swarm. One minute it’s full, then 3/4 of the honey is gone…In their tummies I am guessing to take it with them . I will certainly be watching for that next time…

The WBKA pdfs mentioned above are a great resource. Especially in helping you to identify a QC and what to do at that point. Good luck … a swarm is not the end of the hive, just a pain


In reply to your closing sentence “a swarm is not the end of a hive, just a pain”. A swarm can be the end of a colony in a hive. There is a one chance in about seven that the new queen will fail. Once that happens, laying workers start, which is the colony’s last ditch effort to pass on it’s genes while dying out. Without intervention, with this scenario, the colony will die out.

1 Like

And you can also have a succession of secondary swarms and cast swarms until the colony is a shadow of its original self. At that point all you need is some poor weather or wasp attack or bee robbing to finish it off.

You are right about honey being consumed before swarming, but when you see that you are probably too late. I dont believe bees hanging out outside is a reliable sign. The most reliable way to catch swarm preparations in time to do anything about it is to do regular inspections.


Yes to both replies. Agree entirely. After my first swarm at the beginning of this year (and I made the mistake of not inspecting my hive for 3+ weeks - but even then probably would not have recognised a QC) I noticed over the next few days/week there appeared to be less and less bees and was puzzled about that until I read about cast swarming. And I had to re-Queen the hive twice to get it going again
With my second swarm in early September, armed with the information from the WBKA about swarming - and now regularly inspecting my hive - I virtually took my hive apart and found a couple of sneakily hidden queen cells - I removed all but one (new ones kept appearing) hoping the hive would re-Queen but trying to avoid a cast swarm, but after 2-3 weeks it was apparent that there was no queen so mail ordered a new Queen but she disappeared - and in the end to save the hive I bought a nuc. On reflection I was so keen to avoid a cast swarm I might have prevented the hive from re-Queening
When I wrote " just a pain" I should have said a swarm can be managed. Rather poorly by me I will be the first to admit but learning. And the hive is now thriving and my wallet is a lot lighter - that’s the real pain. Cheers


Question from a newbe, I have a queenless brood box. I want to add a 4 frame new nuc, with a new queen, to the queenless brood box.
I thought of 2 options:

1/ Remove 4 frames from the queenless brood box, shake the bees back in the brood box, then add the 4 new frames from the new nuc to the brood box.

2/ place a Super on the brood box, place the 4 frames from the nuc in the Super plus another 4 frames with wax foundation.

Will either one of my suggestions work ?
Should I do it differently ?

I don’t think mixing the colonies would be a good idea. Maybe combining them with the nuc colony on top with newspaper in between.

1 Like

Hi @chau06, you mean as per my suggestion No 2 but with newspaper in between ?

1 Like

Yes - my understanding is that if you combine workers from two colonies too quickly then all hell will break loose but if you allow it to happen slowly or combine multiple colonies it will work better.

1 Like

That would be my preference too. I usually use 2 sheets of newspaper, by the way. They can go through just one sheet too fast and that would risk a fight. :wink:

I did this just a couple of weeks ago after my hive swarmed.
Bought a 5 frame nuc with a queen and dropped it into the brood box. I took the outside frames, shook all then bees off (no brood) and put these frames into a new hive. The bees that come with the nuc will protect their queen.
I am presuming all went well because the hive never looked back, it’s thriving.