Swarming or bearding

I am at work and my wife sent me this picture. Anyone want to guess if this is swarming or bearding?

I requeened this hive a week and a half ago. Prior queen was a strong layer but was switching to vsh strain of bee. Have not looked in bottom box for 2 weeks but top box had room last week.

I can’t look in until I get home from work.


What is the outside air temperature?

Close to 80 and I have the entranced reduced.

Could be bearding then. I would say that is more likely than swarm preparation, but you will only know when you inspect for queen cells. I wish you bearding and luck! :blush:

Me too. I am leaning bearding given the look at the top entrance and bottom.

Will open it up asap!

Thanks @Dawn_SD


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Good news is they are not swarming. Bad news is they are making queen cells. I killed the oldest one and left the rest. I did not see the queen but I saw fresh eggs and it was very crowded with bees so I could have missed her (brand new marked queen).

There are 4-5 frames that are hardly used but honey and brood is all mixed up. I unmixed a few. Not sure why they want to swarm other than too many bees. I put the flow hive on to give them space to spread out even though they have more frames to fill out.

If they wait for me, I may try to do a split this weekend.

The queen cells are culked and loaded. Not sure how close they are to being sealed.

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Do bees ever change their minds on swarming?

I am surprised they want ti swarm with a new queen just installed a week and a half ago.

Rarely, unless you intervene. If you split, I would suggest a modified Snelgrove as one of the more successful ways of helping them change their minds. See page 17 onwards of this leaflet, but I suggest you read the whole thing and print it out:

You might want to take a look at page 14 of this booklet too:

Even splits are not 100% at preventing swarming, but they do give you more of a chance.

They probably decided to swarm before that. I don’t think it is a snap decision by the hive. They build a consensus, and when enough bees agree, they do it. :wink:

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Time will tell but I am wondering if they went queenless and what I see are emergency queen cells. I could not find the queen (though there were piles of bees). I saw eggs and the queen cells I think were different ages which leans toward swarm cell.

We shall see…

Hi Joe, I have seen a lot of evidence that bees change their mind about swarming. However it sounds like your hive wants to swarm. You are probably in the swarm season. In that case, bees will decide to swarm, regardless of what we think. Remember swarming is how they reproduce. We all know how strong the urge to reproduce can be.

I never leave swarm queen cells on frames when I do splits to prevent swarming. I always allow the splits to make emergency queen cells, they rarely swarm when I do that.


Thanks Jeff.

If they wait for me, I will split them on Saturday.

Hi Joe - I’m in the same situation here, and as of yesterday I feel fairly certain I don’t have swarm preparations (or emergency queen makings) quite yet. I went back into my hive that I was concerned about and ended up seeing the queen cups either torn down or empty, plus I found brand new eggs in worker cells.

It’s been very hot here & I know you’re not super far away, have you also had 90 F days? My son also texted me a photo of some impressive bearding yesterday while I was at work, worrying they were about to swarm! I told him about bearding & he looked up more info and went outside and put a beach umbrella up to shade them :innocent:

Anyway, I was wondering - did you see any eggs, larvae etc in the queen cells you mentioned?

Yup, I saw some cups with fresh eggs in them and one or 2 with larva swimming in jelly. I tore the oldest one down to buy time. Would have torn them all down but I could not find the queen so I don’t want them to go queenless.

I am away and can’t do a split until Saturday so I am hoping they wait for me. Just bought and installed the queen 2 weeks ago and don’t want to lose her.