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Small swarm caught and they needed a little help

My wife and I caught this small swarm and transferred them to a Nuc box. We put some frames in and kept looking in on them like crazy bee moms and dads and thought they were at least doing something. Fast forward two weeks and yesterday we removed the top and the frames… They had not done a thing. We could not find the Queen but saw two Drones. I would have thought they would have left altogether if no queen but regardless panic set in and with a lot of reading we decided to open our existing hive that has only been operational since May 5th to see if we could remove a frame of brood and found we absolutely could. we had two full frames of, hard to resist, comb and a frame of new and capped larvae and maybe a queen cell. All of our frames were packed…(we have second box coming this week) We brushed the bees off and placed this frame in the Nuc box with several other frames. Hopefully this will get them started. See pics… and we have decided this since day one. We won’t destroy queen cells. If nature decides to take our bees and they want to swarm and leave so be it. We will do our best to provide them with the space they need to give us their sweet honey and protect them from pests. We will let nature take it’s course in all other regards. Some may disagree but we can disagree. Any comments are welcome

If your swarm was small, and had quite a few drones, I would not have brushed off the bees from the frame of brood. The reason is that most of the bees on a brood frame are nurse bees and they are needed to care for the additional larvae and keep the brood warm. Nurse bees generally don’t fight, and if you smoked your swarm box well, the other bees probably won’t fight with them either.

Now that you have done it, what could you do? Well, you could shake all of the bees off of a frame of brood onto a partly folded sheet of flashing (I use a strip cut from a roll of 20 inch wide flashing from Ace Hardware, with a fold down the middle to make a shallow V shape). Those bees which are foragers will take to the air. Nurse bees will sit on the flashing for a while. If you smoke your swarm hive well, you can then “pour” the nurse bees onto the donated frame of brood, and let them do their thing. The other thing I have done is lightly dust the nurse bees with a little powdered sugar from a shaker before pouring them into the receiving hive. The swarm bees will then be so busy licking off the sugar, that they won’t attack. You may well need the young nurse bees from the donation to help build comb too. If your swarm has older bees, they are not very good at wax production.

Just a few thoughts. :wink:


Thank You for the wealth of information Dawn. I am hoping there are enough bees in the Nuc to care for the brood. With the capped cells on the frame I am hoping for new bees soon. How long should we wait to check on their progress?

I would give them nurse bees today. If they chill, the pupae will never emerge. Believe me, I have done it. :cry:

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Thank You. :tired_face:

My comment is about allowing the bees to swarm. That is fine if there are no neighbors close by.

I’m going by a recent phone call from an irate neighbor of a flow hiver.

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Wrong thread, @JeffH? Your post doesn’t make any sense here. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Hi Dawn, I’m on the right thread. Rye said he was going to let nature take it’s course, while not breaking any queen cells down. That is fine in a rural area, but not recommended, in my view in a residential area.


OK, thanks. I am very jet-lagged at the moment. Perhaps not rereading stuff efficiently. Sorry. Normally I would have posted the wbka files, again… Only about the 90th time, but then nobody uses the search tool, do they? :smile:



@JeffH Jeff’s comment makes sense if you read the opening post Dawn

In anything other than rural areas this attitude can lead to unhappy neighbors that can quickly learn to hate bees instead of accepting them as a part of nature.

See above. I beat you to it :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: Jet lag sucks when you can’t drink coffee.

You beat me by a few seconds mate. :grinning: Seems some people are all for self instead of considering all…

4 minutes by my timer. But who knows what Aussie timers do to the message board! :smile:

I was typing with one finger, not a speed demon any longer. But you got the tiki doll, I concede. LMAO… When I say type with one finger my right hand index finger has gone. I tend to check that an A key has an A on the screen, hard to trust these new fangled machines. :grin:

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Hi Dawn, I fully understand where Peter is coming from. I was never a speed demon. I also type with one finger (while watching the keyboard). A lot can happen on the screen (and does) while I’m typing a simple message.

Sometimes I’ll spend 20 or more minutes on just one message. Then it gets frustrating when someone tells you they carefully read something twice, and still interpret it the wrong way. Then I think to myself “I couldn’t have said it any clearer”.


Sorry if I disappointed you

You guys should try using a second finger, you’d double your productivity!!


My central processor might need an upgrade to cope with the extra speed.

Dawn… we did it… fingers crossed


I caught several very small swarms this season and they did not fare very well. I am 100% with dawn on this one- if you can- you really want to add some extra bees to ensure they can look after that frame of brood you gave them. If you were lucky- or planned it that way- the brood on the frame you donated was just about to hatch. If not many of them may not make it- and the bees won’t have the energy and resources to clear out the dead. Also they are going to need energy/labour/resources to make a new queen.

On that frame you gave I can’t see any of the capped cells in a state of an emerging bee yet. Also there is quite a bit of larvae to care for. I can only imagine that after two weeks the tiny swarm is weaker than ever-I worry they won’t be able to care fro all that brood. Hopefully the nights are not too cold where you are at the moment…

Looking at how tiny the swarm was- I wouldn’t be surprised if there was no queen in it when you got it. Perhaps it was a remnant of a larger swarm that somehow got left behind?

EDIT: I just notice you say you did it. Good! That will give them a fighting chance.