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Using swarms, particularly from your own hive


I thought I might pass on a tip about swarms that I found useful.
If you are sure you have a Prime (maybe from your own hive?) put them into a regular super with foundation. Add a QX under and one over then two supers of thin foundation on top. They have nowhere else to go so they will draw all that lovely wax and fill those two supers really quickly. You will have two supers of beautiful cut comb.
You can take the lower QX away after a few days. Keep an eye on them as they will need a proper brood box in no time.


A swarm from my own hive means I have 1 frame of brood to give the swarm pretty much guaranteeing they won’t leave. Now I don’t need the QX’s and the drones can come and go as they please right from the start instead of being trapped in the hive. Less work and disturbance to the swarm, yes?


It’s not about them not absconding… but of course they might well do so in such a small space. It’s about squashing them into a small space so they draw your cut comb quickly. It will be clean and look lovely.
As soon as there is brood you can take the bottom QX away so maybe just leave it there for a few days.
When you have your cut comb, which should be well before the nest is congested you take it away, put a brood box under and away you go.


I am trying to understand the cut comb concept as you are using it here. I understand the use of thin foundation, as the wax will be eaten, and thin foundation has a better “mouth-feel”. I also understand that a fresh swarm is a hugely enthusiastic wax-generating powerhouse, and you are taking advantage of this.

What I don’t understand is how exactly you use the comb they have drawn. Presumably most of it will be empty of honey, and not capped. So what do you do with it? Fill it yourself? Put it into another hive to fill and cap? Cut it up and submerge it in jars of honey (how do you get the bubbles out)? Very curious. Thanks!


No the point is that as long as you do this when there is a flow the bees will fill at least one of those supers above the QX with honey and cap it. The cappings will be white and clean as they are not travel stained. Some commercial beekeepers use this method though they don’t wait for a natural primary swarm. They do a shook swarm of the entire colony onto foundation, restrict the space and redistribute the brood to other hives.
It’s common in the U.K. to use thin unwired foundation for cut comb. The bees draw it more evenly.


Thank you for that. I have never used this method, so I needed to learn from you. :blush:


Well I am trying it for the first time next year :blush: . I have seen it done successfully. I have seen it fail. Trouble is I have only once ever caught a prime swarm it was hanging in the apiary and I had to go through 7 hives to see where it came from. After all that it was from somewhere else. I only ever seem to entice afterswarms to my bait hives. I’m not prepared to shake a happy colony out of their established home either