Trying to prevent swarm

Hi, I have wanted bees for years and have loved the thought of a flow hive. Well, my husband decided we were up to it and ordered me a flow hive 2, which is supposed to arrive tomorrow! In the meantime, I was looking for bees to order and found a company that was getting some nuc colonies from an apiary up in Maine with some northern hybrids they said. I’m assuming they are part Russian. So I bought a deep brood box and accoutrements to keep them going till the flow hive is ready and I will need the extra brood box anyway, being into the north. I installed my nuc colony into the brood box this afternoon. My smoker hadn’t arrived yet, so was a bit nervous, but no stings/problems. The nuc colony was extremely full/overcrowded and the combs were almost full. I couldn’t find the queen, but I’m hoping she was on one of the frames. My main question is. They were building swarm cells on the bottom of one of the combs. I was too nervous to try to dig them off with the hive tool this time, but I don’t want them to swarm. They went from a 5 frame nuc to an 8frame brood box and by next Saturday we should have the flow hive together and be able to add the second brood box to the hive. I was going to scrape off the swarm cells then. Does that sound like an okay plan? I’m a little nervous I’ll do something wrong. I really want to take good care of them!


Are you sure what you saw are swarm cells? Was there larvae in them? Where were they on the frame (photos are always helpful in the forum). It isn’t normal that someone sells you a nuc with swarm cells, and you definitely don’t want them to swarm so if they are swarm cells and you can locate the queen to be sure its not an emergency cell for a new queen, then I would remove the swarm cells completely. Your bees need to have filled out most all the frames before you add another box-- if you add too soon they will have to work extra hard to warm the amount of space you would be adding and they may not yet have enough stores built up. You should find a local NH beekeeper in your area to learn from and get local tips as you will find people on this forum are from wide geographic locations and so advice can vary. I’m in Ontario Canada and have similar weather as you in NH. I winter in single deeps just fine.

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My concern is about you haven’t got the Flow Hive yet and I am worried you haven’t brought how you are going to preserve the hive and allowed a drying time into your plans. If you are going to use tung oil for example then you might need 3 coats 24 hours apart and another week for it to fume off before putting it to use.
It is strange that you have been sold a nuc with queen cells in it. Makes me wonder if the queen was killed in transit. Or maybe they are just ‘play cells’ 1/2 made and nothing in them, in which case that is a common thing and nothing to worry about.
Welcome to the forum, heaps of nice folks here happy to pass on good sound advice.

Hi, I looked up more about swarms cells, I have been reading books like crazy and took the Penn State online Beekeeping course and I thought whenever you have bumps of honeycomb coming off the bottom of the frame, it was a swarm cell. Now, I’m thinking it should have a queen cup or the peanut looking one if it’s a swarm cell, is that correct? Maybe it was just burr comb? I didn’t see any queen looking cells on it, so I’m probably just a bit anxious about them swarming even tho it’s uncommon the first year. My Dad had to get his bees out of a neighbor’s chimney once and I really don’t want to have to do that so I want to do everything I can to avoid swarming and keep the girls happy. I was planning to put it together early in the week and polyurethane it twice at least 12 hours apart, then let it sit for a few days to air out. I’m planning to put the flow hive boxes on top of the brood box I have going. Do I add the 2nd brood box when 7/8 of the frames are mostly filled? Also, I’m planning to get involved locally eventually, but with Covid and social distancing, it’s on hold for now. Thanks!

It could be bur comb your seeing and thinking it is a queen cell, but when you see a queen cell it does look like a peanut shell, when you see one it is very obvious what it is, but then look to see if there is a larvae in it or if it is completely closed up in which case assume there is a new queen forming in it. Most hives will make a ‘play queen cell’ which looks like a partially made queen cell and is also obvious. Often a ‘play queen cell’ won’t be used to produce a new queen when the colony wants a new queen, they seem to prefer to make a new cell.
Cheers Stephanie

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Why don’t you want them to swarm?

Happy cake day Ed.

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I don’t want them to swarm because I’m afraid they’ll go somewhere where I can’t catch them. We are have woods by us and there is a neighbor’s chimney not too far away from them. I’m sure I’ll get more chill about it all the longer I work with them. Thx!


Not a bad answer, I have seen neighbors get nasty over having bees swarming even when they don’t go in their yard, just the sight of a swarm is enough for some people. Why let a hive swarm and loose half your bees unless you can chase them down, then it is just about wasted time, swarming is preventable with good hive management.
Come on @Anon Ed, my question is do you want your hives to swarm?? Why???
I had one hive swarm last Summer, it was my fault, pure and simple, bad hive management thru lack of attention and not seeing the signs.

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I cannot understand. Why are you questioning someone that wants to prevent her hive from swarming?

I see you have 50 hives, do you let them all swarm? I’m a beginner and just confused.

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@BooBees so your confused how do you think I feel. I had commercial bee keeper as my mentor 47 years ago who lectured me relentlessly about swarm prevention and I have used that advice for nearly half a century to prevent a loss of my assets and in keeping a balance in nature as best we can.
Already uncontrolled swarm are a major issue in some areas to the detriment of a lack of suitable nesting logs for the native wildlife. Who inspects the wild feral bees for diseases that can spread to our hives?
I can well understand that that you are confused @BooBees

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My quirky way of keeping bees is not suited for everyone. As beekeepers, do what you think is right:

Please keep in mind I have no close neighbors, my property is over 27 acres, and in my country, I’m protected by the “right to farm” laws.

Swarming is the number one goal for the honey bee. It is how they reproduce: In nature, without swarming, they would go extinct. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that reproduction is the number one goal for every living creature, including us.

Swarming promotes health: Any swarm I catch and any hive that swarms does not get treated for varroa mites that year. Swarming is a natural mite control in that it breaks the brood cycle; brood being the key to varroa mite reproduction. Varroa mites spread diseases, disease kills the colony.
I am not anti-mite treatment, I am anti-extra work that I hate doing anyway :slight_smile:

Do I let my bees swarm?

Yes I do: If they swarm, that tells me they’ve been successful at raising a healthy hive and have achieved their goal: Healthy hives swarm. I also try to catch most of my swarms. Each day during the swarm season, (2-3 weeks here) I walk through my apiaries ready to collect swarms. I’ve caught 7 to date and several swarms have moved in to old equipment.

I love swarms because they are wax drawing maniacs! lol

Does it hurt my honey harvest? I don’t know: I have a set goal of honey production each year and have been able to meet it.: Last year was 1000 lbs.

“The average lifespan of a honey bee colony is 3-5 years, regardless of our interventions.” Dr Keith Delaplane, therefore I let them reproduce.

Splitting hives is just artificial swarming: However, splitting doesn’t always solve swarming.

I wish you great success in your beekeeping endeavor Sasinnh!


Hey Stephanie! Welcome to the forum. As you can already read, there are different ways of keeping bees to suit different environments and lifestyles - and still care passionately for bee health, as I believe forum members all do.

I live in a suburb with neighbors everywhere, and I try hard to prevent swarming. Sometimes I’m successful! But sometimes the bees are. If you keep bees, you might lose a swarm or two. It’s a serious matter in areas where there are Africanized bees, or city ordinances against it.

This has been a funny spring season in my area, and both I and other beeks nearby had swarms on March 29th! Super early, and no days warm or dry enough preceding it to open up hives for inspection. The swarm did scare my neighbors a bit as it whirled around and settled in a cedar tree between their yards, but luckily we have a good rapport already and they calmed down after I explained what was happening. Pretty soon they were taking videos of me collecting the swarm and FaceTiming with grandkids, etc. So it worked out okay - but I still don’t want to intrude on people’s property or stretch their patience.

Anyway, please try to post some pics when you have a chance - you’ll get lots of support and advice here!

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Thanks everyone, I’m learning a lot from your different methods and I appreciate the welcome! I actually live on 6 acres and my nearest neighbor and a few others down the road have had bees in recent years, although
they both seem to have lost their colonies in the last year or two. Here in NH , they are saying about 55% of the colonies were lost over winter. We have really tall trees here, and like I said, chimneys, and I really don’t want to be chasing them down somewhere really high, especially right after I just got them. I didn’t get any pics this time, I’ll try to do it next time I go out to inspect them. I am really excited though. My flow hive just arrived as I was writing this!

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I love New Hampshire! Spent many summer and winter weeks there as a kid. Winter losses can be that bad here too, and worse. Of my four colonies last season only one survived - but as I mentioned, there was increase! And now I have four colonies again.

If you’re certain your frames had swarm cells on the bottoms, you might not prevent a swarm from issuing by putting on a second brood box. It might be more effective to split your nuc, if you can believe it. Best to do some reading and figure out what matches up with your situation. I’m going to look for the Wally Shaw info & will post ASAP.

Here you go:

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You guys have more winter weather coming this weekend: Hopefully Spring decides to stay after that.

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Eva, thanks for the PDF! Yes! Snow on Saturday, but it will hopefully melt the same day. Mornings are still a bit cold yet. Hoping it will warm up soon, although when it starts getting into the 60’s, my kids start complaining it’s too hot to play outside😂

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