Honeyflow.com | FAQ's | Community |

Swarming and Splitting


Need some advice please. A week ago one of my hives swarmed and having landed in my neighbors yard it create an uncomfortable situation. Rescued it and relocated the swarm. Then a week later (yesterday) this same hive started to swarm again. It landed only 10 feet away in one of my trees, and before I could do anything about it, they all went back to the hive. However, it was apparent I still had a problem.

Went into the brood boxes this am and although not entirely full, the top brood box did have about 10 swarm cells and one or two supercedure cells. I removed most of the swarm cells, caught the queen (assumed to be virgin) and put here into a nuc box with five frames of brood, honey, nectar and open drawn out foundation. I have located the nuc in the shade with the top of the box cracked (but not wide enough for bees to enter/exit) and with a 2.5" screened ventilation hole.

My question is how long I need to keep these bees sequestered…or do I? Of course I am concerned that they have enough ventilation; but I’m confident they have enough to eat. If I open the lid enough for all but the queen to exit, will they just fly back to the mother hive located about 50’ distance?

Is this just an unusual year this year (in Central coast of California?). I have never had such an issue with swarming. On the “up” side, I have not seen any evidence of varroa this year!

Thanks for your thoughts.



My advice:

Don’t remove swarm cells, ever: You may have culled the best queen mankind has ever witnessed. Just let the bees work it out.
Don’t remove the virgin queen; she may have oriented to the original location and was prepared to go out and mate tomorrow.

That’s all water under the bridge at this point so make sure both hives have queen cells or eggs to make a queen at some point.


Yep, I screwed up on this one! Of the 6 swarm cells I removed, there was absolutely NOTHING in 5 of them. However, there was a little queen (not alive by the time I looked at her later this afternoon) but fully formed in the other one. It is questionable whether the cells I left will have anything in them. And, I could have robbed this hive of the potential to grow a new queen if the remaining cells are not viable.

I was sort of wondering when I saw this hive swarm, only a week after it’s first swarm, if the virgin queen could have left the hive yesterday and I observed it as another swarm trying to leave. But within a few minutes (maybe 30 at tops) the swarm, that had landed about 10 feet from the mother hive, dissipated and they all stormed back INTO the hive. So, you may be right in that the virgin queen came out to get oriented and I messed up her mating flight.

Tomorrow morning I will open up my nuc box and see what happens. I may lose some foragers back to the mother hive; but the nurse bees should stay and hopefully the virgin queen. All I can do now is keep checking on whether I need to put this queen back into the mother hive or put her in another hive I have that MAY also be queenless.

This has been a good learning experience! Thanks for your advice, which I will definitely remember for the future. I just freaked out with the thought of another swarm possibly visiting my neighbor again…he was NOT happy!


Don’t forget, this is all supposed to be good fun!


I’m trying hard on that one!! It doesn’t take much when you have someone swearing at you to take the “fun” out of things. That on top of trying to move a cranky hive AND discovering a hive in the new location is also queenless and vicious!! Hopefully, those two will calm down in another week. I’m not keen on bees chasing me for 100’!! And, this from a hive that has been totally docile for a year!

But, as I said the good news…the varroa cycle seems to have been broken this year!


It’s a shame Louise but as you say, a good learning experience …and a warning for others!

What do people think of splitting a hive by shaking off and removing a few brood frames and putting them in a box above the hive with a queen excluder between? My understanding is that the nurse bees etc. will move up and attend to the brood, but the queen can’t come up because of the excluder. Next day you take that top box off (bees all over the frames of brood) and start another hive. The theory being that the bees will make a new queen in that top box that you have now removed. Recombine the two hives after the solstice, with the bees to decide on which queen they want.
Swarming urge hopefully gone after you take the brood and bees away originally, and a good strong hive for the remainder of the season?