Hive report: Swarm!

Yesterday (28 March) it was finally warm enough for me to do a hive inspection at the same time that I could take off work. So I inspected Hive A (affectionately knows as Dave’s Bees). The population was very heavy, there was brood in the deep, and in two medium supers.  I didn’t see much nectar in the hive, but there was pollen.  Unfortunately, the girls got really PO’d part way through and I had to let them calm down. I think that was partly nectar dearth and the fact that it was cloudy and fairly windy. So that inspection was not one where I pulled every single frame. But I didn’t see swarm or supersedure cells, but I did add another medium super to give them some more room.

Then I went to Hive B (the GA girls) but they had been affected by the alarm pheromone from Hive A, and were PO’d from the first contact. So, being a wuss, I thought that since the weather forecast was for another warm day to follow (29 March) that I’d simply let the yard calm down a bit and do that inspection on the 29th.

The 29th turned out to be a lovely day except it was just bit windier than I like for an inspection but it was warm and sunny. So I toted another medium super out to the hive, along with my toolbox, and then went back to get the smoker. As I walked to within about 10 feet of the hive the Georgia girls (Hive B), I heard them–bees came pouring out of the hive. Swarm in progress, right before my eyes.

The last time one of my hives swarmed I was lucky–the queen landed on my shoulder so I got that swarm easily.  Luck was with me again today–the queen didn’t land on me, but in a short, squatty, multi-trunked bush that was infiltrated by a very thorny climbing rosebush, very close to the hive, and practically on the ground.

Bee brush and a dishpan in hand, I started the process of capturing my errant bees. With 20180316_114851.jpgthe aid of pruning shears, I got down to the cluster but they had picked a spot where the trunk had multiple branches and was sturdy enough not to shake very well, and of course, that’s where the bees settled down.

(Nope, no photos–I was way too busy working out my plan to get these creatures into their new home.)

It was obviously time for the bee-brushing technique: hold the pan under bees, and brush downward.  That got me a pretty good batch of bees so I carted them back to their new home that I had prepared for an occasion like this. Dump them in, look for queen; no queen seen. Back to the bush: a lot of the bees settled back in another cluster although a fair number were on the ground. So the routine became to shake and brush the bush, dump into the hive, shake, brush, dump, several more times. Finally, I was down to only a very small cluster of bees right on the main trunk of the bush and it seemed that the girls I had carted back to the new hive were staying there although some were still flying around the bush.

I decided to let them settle and try one more shake-and-brush, but first, I needed water. I gave it long enough for me to slake my thirst (it’s damn hot in a bee suit) and went back to the bush. There were no bees there–that little cluster had dispersed, but there were some still in the air between the bush and what was now Hive C and I saw some bees going into the hive! Maybe, just maybe, that means that I’ve got the queen in that hive.

I still haven’t looked into Hive B–got distracted by the swarm—but maybe tomorrow.

Now I have to decide if I purchase a queen or let them raise one of their own. Decisions, decisions, decisions….and the bees will do what they damn well please!  Just like cats, we only think we are in charge.





9 thoughts on “Hive report: Swarm!

  1. Indeed. Were you wearing gloves? My mentor told me the Queens that are raised by the hive (when the first ”specially bred queen” are never as strong . . . what say you? This is my first 2 hives and I know for sure Hive 2 did swarm and are hanging way high up in a Fir tree nearby, the yellow lobes of comb quite sculptural. I did see the form covered with bees on warm fall days (they made it through the frosts exposed like that) I am nervous about our winter.


    • I think it depends on the weather. If it’s nice enough that the new, virgin queen can mate successfully I think it is ok. I, personally, have had good luck with letting the girls raise a new queen.


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  5. Awesome. I love swarms. Especially my own. Your new swarm will already contain your old queen, and the parent colony should have a new queen within a day or two. I would definitely not requeen either colony. Congrats!


    • I wasn’t sure that I’d gotten the old queen in with the swarm–but when I saw bees going into that hive I figured I’d been lucky. I am going to let them raise their own queen–it was a good healthy colony, with a good queen. So I don’t really need to fix anything.

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