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What to do following Swarm


This is my first year bee keeping

I saw some swarm cells Monday when I was doing my inspection and adding my 2nd brood box…today while at work my neighbor said she saw the swarm

What should I do next? When should I do my inspection? What should I look for and do? Will it be an issue now that If I have lost half my colony to a swarm having the 2nd box?

Post swarm. Still queen cells

You should have already done an inspection and destroyed any further queen cells or they will swarm again. Add the second brood box and do at least weekly inspections of the hive over Spring and Summer.


Leave them alone for 10 days. Upon inspection, there should be a new mated queen and eggs/larva.
From my old old beekeeping mentor, “Never, ever, destroy queen cells unless you are trying to make the hive queenless on purpose.”


Disagree with Chili
I would look in tomorrow (six days) and reduce the queen cells to one open one with a fat larva swimming in royal jelly.
If they are all sealed then choose one on its own in a secure position, being attended by the bees.
If you leave all of them then your bees will swarm again and maybe again


The hive has the greatest chance of getting a stellar queen by leaving them alone. I’d end up killing all the good cells and leaving the weakest.


I do agree with you, leave the queen cells alone and let the colony decide which will be the best for them, it is called natural selection. The selected queen will kill of the wanna bees regardless of the numbers. I see no valid reason to having a bee keeper interfere to that extent. Selecting one queen cell to remain to maturity may mean you end up with no queen.


But what if the colony is a strong one. What happens then?


The question asked is “What do you do following a swarm?” Dee.
The hive would therefore logically be depleted and not as strong as it had been prior to the swarming. So to keep the question on the subject I have already answered it.


You sound a little cheesed off with me. I am curious that’s all. It wasn’t a trick question. I keep bees in the UK and because bees are not lucky enough to have near constant access to nectar any loss of a swarm means loss of our crop. Maybe that’s why we pay more attention to swarm control.
If I left a swarmed colony alone, two weeks later it would issue another swarm and then maybe another leaving me a colony so weak it might struggle to provision itself for winter let alone give me honey. You are obviously much more relaxed about swarms which just illustrates how beekeeping differs all over the world.
Now that I understand that losing afterswarms is if no consequence to you I will leave the subject alone.


I went into 10 or so hives today: All hives had capped brood only and honey like I’d never seen. I could have harvested today, the earliest ever. The hives had great populations even though they all most likely swarmed recently.

I mention this because like me, the OP is in the mid-Atlantic USA, and it sounds like his hive is at the same place in the cycle of things that mine are. Chances are, these hives are “between queens” as I like to call it and need to be closed up and left alone so they can complete their cycle of re-queening; undisturbed.

Virgin queens could be arriving to a hive that is no longer familiar because it is all taken apart while the beekeeper makes unnecessary manipulations.


I’m not cheesed of with you at all, but I do find people wander off the subject of the thread and I find that a bit annoying when opening a new subject is so easy on the forum.
As for swarm control some people are pro-active to prevent or at least minimize it happening but unfortunately there are some that regard it as a part of life in bee keeping and those beginners who have not bothered to do research on bee keeping in general.
I have been proactive in swarm control and never to date lost a swarm, I don’t know where you claim such false non-information when on the forum I am constantly advising prevention of swarm control. The loss of bees is a concern regardless of the access of nectar, there is nothing to gain from a nectar flow if you hive has been weakened.!!!
I did not regard your question as a trick question but I did think it was not at all thought out as you implied that as the hive had swarmed that somehow the hive was stronger which simply is not based on any facts. And your question was not related to the thread subject.


I consider thread divergence healthy. One subject brings up another which maybe might not have been considered in the first place. It’s called discussion and how a lot of us learn. I never understood this forum was a simple Q/A. Horses for courses. Now hijacking a thread is a different matter eh? :scream:


Yes it is most certainly. Surely you concede a discussion should follow a subject and said discussion should remain on that subject, otherwise it is just babblings. It is easy on this forum to begin a new subject if you so desire.


Who’s going off the subject now?
Just saying.

I wanted to read on what to do after a swarm.
I like a bit of divergence too, and we all went well with it since the forum started.
There is absolutely no need to make anybody uncomfortable at all or to get personal in a passive aggressive way.
There’s been a tad lately.

Beekeepers obviously deal with swarms according to their location, situation and inclination.
It’s wonderful to share it here.


Hopefully we newbies will continue to at least be sensible enough to adapt all this wonderful, global knowledge to our own local conditions and desired outcomes. Hold the cheese and keep the wisdom coming, all! :rainbow::sweat_smile::+1:

About what to do following a swarm - I’ve had three from my two colonies started in April as nucs now, and managed to capture the first two primes. I lost a pretty good sized secondary yesterday, from the hive that swarmed second. I was all set to go in and release queens from the cells I’d seen, depending on how they appeared, as Wally Shaw advises, but I must have been too late. I could only find one queen cell, and I got too worried about doing the wrong thing, so I left it. They clustered up in an evergreen tree behind the hives, all along the trunk. Impossible to shake or cut off :open_mouth: So I had my hubby strap a nuc box to the branch just next to them with a frame of capped and open brood from their original hive inside. I saw bees investigating & going in & out of the nuc, so when I came home later and saw no cluster I thought maybe they’d all gone in the nuc! Nope. So I put the brood frame into the box containing the primary from the same hive. Good move I hope?

The first first hive that swarmed is now making signs of swarming again - a large beard is forming on the front even though it’s overcast and cool today. I really don’t want to lose them…this stack is topped with my Flow super and was being filled & capped for the first time ever :heart_eyes::grimacing:


Hi Eva, if I encounter an unshakable swarm, I put a frame of all open brood (no need for any sealed brood in this case) right up against the swarm. It doesn’t matter which way the frame orientates. The bees will almost instantly gather onto the frame & start looking after & feeding the brood. After 20-30 minutes or so, the queen will most likely be on that frame. I just gently place that frame, covered in bees into the brood box. Then place that brood box as close as possible to the swarm location. Then stand back to observe what happens. If the queen is on the frame, the rest of the bees will march into the entrance. If not, the bees will come out of the brood box. If that happens, you just need to repeat that process & leave the frame there a bit longer. This video of mine shows this process.

In this case the brood frame maintained it’s original orientation, however recently I placed a frame face down over a swarm. cheers

PS, you’ll notice a foundationless brood frame, that came out of my observation hive.


Thanks for those forgotten details @JeffH! I did recall about the open brood, but I was hard-pressed to find any in that hive. There were only a handful of open cells with larvae and mostly sealed brood on the frame I used, the rest looking pretty well capped or recently vacated. Perhaps having it inside the box and so few open to waft pheromones made it unsuccessful. Or, they’d already decided on a new home & thought a coreflute nuc box was a joke :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


@Dee I have already answered Dee’s question on the forum so I didn’t think I needed to explain it again. Horses for courses, I prefer a question to be followed by answers, where someone wishes to ask about something different then they can open a new thread. It was certainly not intended by be to be aggressive in any way if you thought I was, it is just my own personal opinion.


Now I’ve looked at the video & see I made another mistake - didn’t shake the bees off of that brood frame first. Was that part of the problem or no big deal?


Hi Eva, just use a frame after you shake the bees off. It’s best to virtually put the frame right up to the bees like I showed. Then after 30 minutes or so, gently move that frame into the brood box with whatever bees are attached to it. Because the queens normally gravitate to the brood, it’s most likely the queen will also be on there. When that happens, the rest of the bees will follow.

It’s unfortunate we didn’t get to video the bees leaving the top of the clothesline, it happened while we were talking to the home owners.

Just a side note, I don’t really shake shakable swarms. If I can sit a brood box (with the lid off) directly under the swarm, just touching it, as long as I have a frame containing open brood in the box, the bees will move down into it. After most of the bees are in, I’ll put the lid on, then put the box on the ground on top of another box. Then sit back & watch the bees at the entrance fanning their scent out.

PS, a couple of drops of lemongrass oil also helps.