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Swarmed and Returned to Hive

I am a second year beekeeper and I have one new hive that started this year. This morning I walked outside and my bees were swarming. There was a big cloud of them that travelled to my neighbors yard and clustered in a tree. It started to rain and then it looked like they were heading back to my yard. The next thing I know, the swarm in the tree is gone and there’s an abnormal amount of bees on the outside of my hive. If they returned to my hive how can I know for sure? What should be my next steps? I’m not really sure what to do at this point so any advice from fellow beekeepers would be greatly appreciated! And here’s a picture of what my hive looked like after I suspect the swarm returned.

  1. Wait for the rain to pass through
  2. Inspect the hive (don’t inspect it in the rain or cold weather). If it is bursting with bees, they probably returned.
  3. Check for queen cells, if you have lots, they will definitely swarm again. Consider splitting the hive ASAP.
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Sometimes bees do a practice swarm before the serious swarm. If you can take the split as @Dawn_SD suggests, with the original queen, then break down every queen cell, bar one, you’ll probably avoid a swarm. You’ll need to act quickly because the serious swarm may take place shortly after the practice swarm. If not the same day, possibly the following morning.

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Both @Dawn_SD and @JeffH have given you could advice. The possible reason the colony have swarmed is a result of over crowding and that the swarm returned to the hive means that the problem still exits so it is really important to do a split as both have advised,
Cheers, Peter

what everyone else said- and:

if you find that the hive is full of queen cells- then a swarm is imminent. One option at this late stage is a Taranov split. Whilst they sound scary- in reality they are not- and actually quite easy. You will end up with two hives though.

you can read about them here:

there are also many youtube videos. I have done this to prevent a hive from swarming and it worked perfect. I had a much larger gap between my ramp and the hive than Rusty used though- still worked fine. It actually doesn’t prevent a swarm so much as mimic one in a controlled fashion- when you want- and you get to catch the swarm instantly and effortlessly.

You original hive will soon have a brand new queen- and the new hive will have the old queen.

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Was your queen clipped? Probably not, but if she was it would explain this behaviour. In any event you need to inspect and most likely do a split or they will be off again within a week.