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What the heck is going on? Swarm and crosscomb?


Here are some pictures of my hive today. It is 89 degrees here in Kansas City, Missouri. Unseasonably warm, but not that bad. It will reach into the high 90s later in the summer. The hive is shaded too.

Although looking through the windows there appear to be a lot of bees inside, there are masses of bees all over the front of the hive. Are they getting ready to swarm? I have never seen this before.


Your bees could be getting ready to swarm. It IS spring where you are. Swarming is quite on the cards. You might need to take some immediate action.


I agree with Jeff, have you been managing the space in the brood box? moving out honey frames and cycling brood to give the queen space to lay?


“Take immediate action “. What does that mean? What should I do? No I have not removed honey frames.


It is getting worse.


Hi Brick,
I see that Flow box is on the bottom, do you have Flow frames in this box? Regardless, I think you need to go into your brood box or boxes and see whats going on, it is normal for bees to rapidly build in number in spring. But they will most likely swarm if limited for space. The easiest and most effective method is to artificially split your hives however there will need to be a valid queen cell. Take the frame with a queen cell and move this to a new hive or Nuc box along with a 2 or 3 brood frames with the bees. Replace the empty spaces with new frames (preferrably with foundation)
If there are no queen cells then the could be just bearding due to heat or a general lack of space inside the hive. A this time of the year, I move any honey frames up into a super and replace with empty foundation frames to give the queen room to lay.


I currently have 2 brood boxes. 8 frames each. My plan was to put the flow frames that will be in a 3rd box on top of these 2 brood boxes. I have not done that yet. I will do a full inspection tomorrow. I do not have a second hive or nuc box.


It looks like the entrance reducer is on the smallest setting: Take it out.

I would consider 3 brood boxes in Kansas: Works well here in New Jersey and I think your winters are much more harsh.


I took out the entrance reducer. Actually did it before the recommendation. 3 brood boxes? And then the Flow super on top of them?


Hi @Brick, two brood boxes max. Only put the Flow super on if the brood is full. You will need to check all the frames in the brood for queen cells and look to replace the honey frames to give the queen room to lay as this can trigger a swarm.


@Rodderick @JeffH
As you only have one hive so am guessing you only have the 2 brood boxes that are in use and the Flow Hive that you are going to fit on the week-end after you do an inspection. No spare boxes and frames? I feel by the week-end the horse will have bolted, or frankly, the bees will have already swarmed.
The reason being that there is just too many bees in the colony for a double brood box. But to maybe stop after swarms you should beg, borrow or whatever another box with foundation-ed frames to increase the space in the hive and give the bees something to do. Then even add the Flow Hive on the top. Put a QX on top of the 2nd brood box.
When was your last inspection? I feel seeing the photos that it might already be too late to do a split, and you have nothing to do a split with so in your circumstances I would straight away contact your local bee group and explain the predicament you have. If you are not a member I would advise you to join so that you can get help ASAP.
Let us know the outcome.


Ok. I inspected today. I have 2 brood boxes. I fully inspected every frame in the bottom box and there was a lot of brood as well as nectar and pollen filled cells. These first 2 pictures were on the bottom of a frame. Are they queen cells?

The second brood box had all the frames cross combed together. In my opinion it would be impossible to inspect these frames without ripping apart comb and having honey drip/ flow into the bottom box. These next pictures are looking into that second brood box. Should I have inspected this box even if I destroyed comb and spilled honey?


Take a look inside those 2 queen cups for eggs. The bees are extending them, which in my mind, even without eggs in them, the bees are preparing to swarm.

I would pull that super apart & get the brood in order so as to be able to readily inspect the frames.

Looking at those queen cups, with or without eggs, there is sure to be more in that second brood box.


So those are definitely queen cups? Inpect them for eggs? Does that mean cutting off the tops of the cells?

Regarding the second (top) box. You say to pull that super apart. It is a brood box. Again if I pull it apart honey will spill into the bottom box. Is that ok? After I do pull it apart, when I put it back together and push the frames together won’t the bees just repair the broken comb and fuse the frames again?

If they do swarm is that a major problem? I know I will lose half my bees, but the hive will recover. Correct?


Yes queen cups that are being extended. Look from the bottom up for eggs or young grubs.

I’m assuming that the second box is also a brood box & that you have a queen excluder above it. I would place it over a tray or something to catch the honey spills. Start on one side & work your way across. You need to straighten up the combs so that they fit snugly within each frame. It’s no good having cross combs & not being able to properly inspect each frame.

Where are you located? it isn’t in your profile. Anyway pushing the frames together can result in dead bees which can result in SHB infestation, if that applies to your location.

Swarming or not can be your call. Not recommended in a residential area. Plus it will severely reduce your honey production in the upcoming honey flow.

Your quote: "but the hive will recover. Correct? Not necessarily. There is a myriad of reasons why it possibly wont recover. One being that your colony could issue several swarms, leaving a mini colony that is unable to resist SHBs infesting your hive & causing a “slyme-out”, depending on where you live.

Sorry, Kansas City, Missouri, as you stated earlier. Are SHBs in your area? If so, something you have to be mindful of with every strategy you/we adopt.


I live in Kansas City, Missouri.

Yes, the second box is a brood box. There was no box above it and therefore no queen excluder. Today I put the queen excluder on and added a 3rd box that contains the flow frames. I figured the third box would give the bees more room. Correct assumption?

Yes, I have SHB. Not too many, but I have seen them. I have SHB traps in the hive filled with mineral oil and they do seem to work fairly well. Clearly there is no infestation of SHB.

You say to put a tray under the 2nd box to catch the honey as I pull the frames apart. I suspect that honey will continue to spill out of the broken cells for at least 24 hours, maybe longer. Do I keep the hive disassembled and the 2nd box on a tray that whole time?



I do 3 deep brood boxes and then honey supers but only because I like lots of honey, and huge colonies put out lots of honey. It’s not uncommon for me to have 3-7 supers on top at this time of year.
I’m also a lazy beekeeper in that I don’t like to have to feed my bees sugar syrup going into winter: I’ve never had to feed the big colonies, only the nucs and 1 & 2 deep configs. Winter survival is much better and I haven’t seen any of my smaller hives come close to the late winter buildup of the 3 deep brood box configuration:

I was skeptical and still am at times but the results keep repeating themselves year after year after year.


Yes, they are queen cells in the photos. You need to get the hive back into order so that you can manage it properly, from what I see your regular hive inspections have not been regular enough. Whether the hive swarms or not now is too far advanced to be stopped, I suspect as I have said, that the hive will swarm and that could have been prevented to some extent but that time has passed. What you can do is to reduce the risk of after swarms.
If it were my hive I would get another box with foundation frames and start cleaning up the present frames that has been extended too far out and is covered with bridging comb. It is a harsh treatment but the hive has gone too long to be all nice and gentle about the problem. You need to get into the hive and tackle the problem or it will only get worse. If you are not up to doing it ask for help from a local bee group. Adding the flow super will give the bees more space but my primary concern would be to get the two brood boxes sorted out.


You can recover what honey is spilled by working over a tray, pan or a bucket, drain what honey you can assuming you don’t have access to an extractor then trim the comb back level with the top and bottom timbers of the frames then put the frame back into the hive. The bees will clean up the wet frames and store the honey. Remove all the bur comb and bridging comb as you go. Assemble the frames in the hive so that the timber of the verticals of the frames are touching each other and then there will be the right spacing for the bees to do their thing.


Hi Brick, I wouldn’t put the 3rd box on until I sorted out the first 2. It’s easy to assume that a third box will give them more room & therefore avoid swarming. That is not necessarily the case.

Ok, you have SHBs. Traps are fine while a colony is strong with workers that are able to chase the beetles into the traps. Beetle traps are a false sense of security. You don’t have a beetle larvae infestation now & you don’t want one in the future.

Only put the super over the tray while you are working on it, no longer. Now when you fix the frames up, do it in such a way that when you put them back into the super, there is bee space all around each frame. Don’t have any combs touching each other. If you do that & don’t squash any bees between the frames, the bees will quickly take care of any dripping honey.

Good luck with that, cheers

PS, it recently occurred to me that folks see beetles in their hives & think that they have an infestation. They may have a beetle infestation. A strong colony can control them. It’s the beetle larvae infestation we have to be really concerned about & try to avoid.