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Swarm...this early in Summer? Singapore


Today I went down to my two hives to do a recon. I had planned to only open the side panel to view the activity. As I was not wearing a suit I decided to sit for a while, allowing the bees to get used to me. I saw a little bit of activity and took a picture. Within a few minutes bees for pouring out of one of the hives, so I backed away. Within 20 mins the bees had settled on a 2 year old fruit tree and totally smothered it. I ventured a look into the hive via the panel and it appears normal…normal is relative as this is my first hive.

The two hives are within 2 meters of each other. Both are flow hives. One is a cedar model, the other a painted pine version. The Hive is question is a home made hybrid, means it has three normal frames in it with the remainder being flow types.

We are at the start of summer and are based in Jindabyne at 1150mtrs. Temp today was nice 25’c and slightly over cast. The activity occured around 3pm.

So my question…are they swarming and about to leave me? Or did I annoy them?


Hi Olivier, it looks to me like they have left the hive having swarmed, and settled on the tree in your photo. Can you recover them and put them in another box?

Also, that frame looks at first blush, like it is ready to be tapped.

edit …I keep looking at that capping…fantastic on an outer Flow frame, and mostly dry capping too. I’d be pretty proud of that if it were my hive :smiley:

They could send out more swarms soon too.


Proud and sad!

Should I set up another brood box?

The other hive is not so complete…


Are they still on the tree? I’d get onto them quickly and pop them in a brood box with a set of frames and foundation (lid and floor etc of course too). Read up quickly on capturing swarms. There are tricks like putting a frame of brood (without bees on it) in the new box to entice them in and keep them there. There might be something you can do as well to try and stop any cast swarms from issuing. It looks like the one on the tree is probably the prime swarm.


My community is fanstatic! I have a hive for tomorrow…just hope they are still there in the morning…would My QUEEN have also absconded?


The old (or original queen) should be in the swarm on the tree. They might still be there tomorrow. There are probably multiple other queens in the hive the swarm came from.
Edit…I’ve realised of course Olivier, that the photo of the capped frame is off course not a Flow frame, but a regular one because of your bespoke hybrid set up on that hive- good all the same :smiley:


Once you have hived your swarm get into the hive they swarmed from and have a good search for all the queen cells left behind. If that were my hive what I would do would be to reduce them to one good looking open one, otherwise they will throw afterswarms. If you don’t want to do that then once your new swarm is in it’s new box move the original hive away and put the swarm in its place.


Hi Dee - I hoped you would reply to help Olivier :smiley:

Did you mean to say leave an open cell or am I really confused?


It looks like the bees are attracted to Roundup.

You will be able to catch that swarm by placing two brood frames, one each side of the post. After an hour, place those frames into your capture box, then place it next to the post. If the queen is on either frame, the bees will all go into the box.


I think it might be straw?

Olivier, @Olivier…why does the title of the post now say Singapore? Aren’t your photos in Jindabyne?


Yes it is straw on the fruit trees.

Singapore? i joined the flow chat forum…will need to change the settings…


UPDATE: I arrived at the farm and the swarm was still there. I found a donor hive which I cleaned and used some new frames I had in the shed. I could not collect the whole swarm, but at least 70% went into the new Hive, which i positioned under the shade of a tree about 200m away. They seem happy enough as I put a small amount of sugar solution to keep interested.

Internestly enough, the other 30% went back to the old hive!!! This seems to have occured at the same time we had a leak from the hive?..anybody else have a leak when havrvesting?


So it was an absconding then, not a swarm. :blush:

I haven’t, but lots of people have.

Your photo shows you harvesting from the front of the hive. Unless you re-tilted the hive, that means that your hive was tilted backwards, which is the wrong way round and can cause leaks. Your tube is also very full of honey. That can cause airlocks and force honey back into the hive. To avoid this, open the frame in 25% sections, waiting 10 to 20 mins before advancing the key to the next section. If you always make sure that there is air in the top of the Flow tube, you can minimize leaks. Here is a video of what I mean:


It looks like the Super is on back to front.
The flow tubes should be on the opposite side of the hive entrance.

That looks like a lot of activity to be dealing with


Hi Olivier, please let us know in due course how this new “70 per cent” hive goes - or stays :smiley:

Did you get a chance to look inside at the brood area at all?


Sorry, been busy and lost track of this thread.
If the hive has swarmed the bees leave behind lots of queen cells of various ages to continue the colony. If the colony is strong 2 weeks after swarming it will issue an afterswarm, taking more bees with it, and maybe more before it settles down with their chosen queen. If you want to make sure you don’t lose more bees you have to prevent this so…
You go into the hive and look through the queen cells choosing one healthy OPEN cell that you can see a larva swimming in a good pool of royal jelly. Mark this frame and, brushing the bees off this frame, destroy any others. Shake the bees off all the other frames in turn, destroy all the queen cells. You have to shake all the bees off in order to spot all the queen cells the bees have hidden. If there are eggs and young larvae the bees WILL make more queen cells so you should go back and destroy them in six days when they can make no more. Job done. The bees have only the one new queen and you won’t get an afterswarm


I’m with you now Dee, sorry. I was confused with my recent case of the queenless split that swarmed with a virgin queen. Of course in my case, all 14 queen cells had been long closed when the hive swarmed, and there were only “opened” cells from emerged queens and closed cells with queens just about to emerge.


In which case Dan you spring the lot. If ALL the queen are out the bees are forced to choose one and settle down. If you leave any and the hive is still strong in number they may well keep those queens imprisoned and swarm again. You have to understand what happens after swarming. The queen cells are different ages for a purpose. It enables the bees to swarm and still have more queens in reserve. Any that are on the point of emerging will be kept and fed in their cells till one virgin is ready to fly then they will let another out. This can happen repeatedly in some colonies till they swarm themselves out of existence. Sometimes lots of virgins go with the one swarm. Have a read here http://www.wbka.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/There-Are-Queen-Cells-In-My-Hive-WBKA-WAG.pdf


Thanks Dee. Yes I got rid of them all at the time. It was quite a shock to have a queenless split, swarm with a virgin queen. After all, I did the pre-emptive split to prevent the swarm! I split it again at the time, and that worked to prevent further swarms. Most of the queens had already emerged, and due to my opening up the hive, the bees keeping the virgins in their cells were distracted from their duties, and some more emerged as I looked at them before I had a chance to cut them out. There were virgin queens everywhere.

My big mistake back then, was placing the queenless split in the site of the original hive, so I had all the field bees returning to it, keeping numbers very high.

edit - that Welsh article is great, and I keep reading it (parts of it) from time to time. I would just pick up one point. Where emergency cells are discussed at the beginning, he says, talking of the colony making emergency queen cells… “-it does NOT want to swarm” - the emphasis being his. I found that not to be true in my case as my colony did swarm, and perhaps my shock was partially due to having read this in the article a few times.


It means that if you split a hive and seriously weaken it and let it make emergency queen cells it won’t swarm. He’s right it won’t. Split a hive and move it only a few feet away from where it was, all the flyers will go back to where they came from. You are left with a colony with no foragers. The bees will thin the emergency cells down themselves.