Collecting a Swarm – The Easy Way

Parent (Medium)
Parent Hive

Well actually this was an attempted swarm that I was able to make use of.  Returning home shortly after 12:15 pm on July 8th I saw the unmistakable sign of a swarm, a cloud of bees above one of my hives.  I was relaxed about this knowing the queen was clipped and that this must be a prime swarm attempt as I had seen the marked queen in the hive five days before, but obviously missed the queen cell they were building.  Bees would return to the hive after finding that the queen wasn’t able to fly with them but was instead in front of the hive.

So, postponing a cold drink, I donned my beesuit, fired up the smoker and taking a polynuc with me went to the hive.  As I arrived at the hive I spotted the queen climbing the inside face of the left hand supporting block.  She was a quick climber and by the time I had my queen clip in hand she had disappeared under the open mesh floor.  I then remembered the Taranov board and considered that I had a condition which mimicked this.  Although Taranov’s method involves shaking the bees onto the board, mine had done it themselves. So instead of having bees hanging from a special board in front of the hive I had them hanging under the hive floor in increasing numbers.

The nuc was set up a few feet from the parent hive.  After giving them a few minutes to form a cluster I disassembled the hive to get to the floor and shook the bees hanging on the underside into the polynuc, the queen was about the last to leave as she was clinging tenaciously onto the mesh floor and needed an additional shake to get her to join her daughters.  I took a frame each of stores and brood in all stages from the parent hive – checking that these were clear of queen cells of course (!) – and put these into the nuc,  together with an empty frame of drawn comb.  The nuc can take six frames but I intended to go into the nuc in a few days and left a gap to one side of the frames.

The parent hive was inspected carefully and a sealed queen cell was found just underneath one of the top bars this was left with an unsealed queen cell alongside.  Three other cells were found on other frames and destroyed.

The frames removed from the parent were replaced with drawn comb and the hive and the nuc were reassembled.

I then had my cold drink!

Child (Medium)
Entrance of the nuc

Today, forty eight hours later, there were more bees than I remembered shaking in and all three frames were covered.  The queen was seen and is laying. They had already started to build brace comb which was easy to remove and three frames of foundation were installed so that the nuc  has its full allocation of frames.  It occurs that although some increase will be due to some bees emerging that others who had left with the ‘swarm’ but were not collected on Monday had now joined their queen.

001 (Medium)
OSR field (photo D Dudman)

There is a good supply of forage coming in with a field of OSR in flower across the valley about 1500 mtrs (1 mile) away (pictured).



This is the easiest ‘swarm’ I have ever dealt with and I am thinking about designing a swarm catching board for a clipped queen to land on and lead the swarm under.  Just in case I miss another queen cell in the future.

By next Tuesday the virgin queen should be ready to emerge and once she has mated and is laying she will be marked and clipped.