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Swarm prevention: removing ALL the frames?


Hi folks!

We purchased a thriving established colony, the owner said they had swarmed once before already. The hive was clearly jam-packed, traffic jam at entrance, boiling over with bees. Two deep boxes, upper deep was nearly all honey (possibly honey-bound hive?).

We brought the hive home and then, as per our agreement with previous owner, gave him back ALL the frames. In two stages:

  • The day after the hive was installed, we shook the bees off upper deep frames, replaced them with foundationless frames. (Because I’ve just finished Michael Bush’s book and am now thoroughly convinced.)

  • One week later, we did the same with the lower deep.

We figured this would end up like an installed package, and since the colony was so very numerous, they wouldn’t have any trouble building back up. Here’s the thing: when we removed the frames, we saw about 6-10 capped queen cells at the bottom, so presumably swarm cells. We didn’t see a queen, but then we’ve never been able to spot the queen on any inspection of our other hive. We did see eggs.

  1. From what I understand, this means that the swarm has already departed? Yet the colony seems so very numerous!

  2. The colony is now in two boxes, one deep, one medium, full of empty foundationless frames. There’s nothing but one full frame of honey. Will this be enough to keep them from swarming again?

  3. I’ve been observing odd clustering around the entrance, and around the hive cover. This has been consistent day after day. I understand that some ‘bearding’ is natural, but the weather is actually cool, and this seems like odd clustering, they’re kinda forming bee bridges over the entrance. Traffic jam? Swarm preparations? Bees reducing the entrance because their previous hive had a very small entrance, or because they’re building a whole new hive?

Would love to hear your opinions!!


Have you seen eggs since you did this…ie have you looked in again? Are you sure you have a queen if you gave the chap back his frames?

Size of colony is no indication of previous swarming. Remember after the swarm has gone brood continues to emerge which soon makes numbers up.
If your bees are on empty frames you should not have your Flow super on


Oh that’s good to know—is there an easy way to get the bees out of the flow super without hurting any of them?

And I’m not sure about the eggs, but what we did do (as Michael Bush recommends) was add a frame full of uncapped brood so that in the event we were indeed queenless, the bees could rear a new one.


One thing I am concerned about is bees absconding, since we’ve been opening the hive so often. We’d decided not to open the hive again for several weeks. Is there a risk of absconding if we openup the flow hive and smoke/brush/shake them out?


I am not sure why you do not want bees in the flow frames?


deleted double post (20 characters)


The flow super is up there way too early. They
have to fill up two brood boxes with whole new comb. They can’t defend
that much space and they won’t bring honey in there anyway before feeling established in their new home.


Sorry, I got confused with my answers and stuff… Can anyone clear that up for me? :flushed:


You’re the only one who can delete your answers! You should be able to click on the little pencil in the bottom right corner of your published post.


Well, it’s done! I took the flow super off, shook all the bees down into the medium super, and closed the hive. Fingers closed they won’t abscond!