wax logo

Swarming Hive June 2013

Around two weeks ago, Hive 2 started to make 'play cups' the beginnings of Queen Cells (QC), and the start of the swarming process. These QC  were around 6 in number.

I performed an ‘artificial swarm’ which is simple mimicking the natural process of swarming by removing the queen and all the flying bees to another hive, this hive I called Hive 3.

I left one QC in Hive 2 and removed all the others (three to three ‘mating hives’ and another one to a Nucleus Hive, the rest I put in a Tupperware container to take photos.


play cups on surface of comb Queen Cell cut from comb 

A few days later, hive 2 queen emerged from cell. She then has to mate and hopefully in a week or so start laying eggs. The hive is then complete, and fully functional again.

swarm settled in bushes 

Back to Hive 3. Two days ago I ‘checked the hive’, this was to ensure that no more QC’s had been produced. All ok.

Today, at 0955, I noticed a large number of bees coming out the hive. I went upstairs for a clearer view and there was a cloud of bees at the top of the garden. This cloud gradually moved closer towards the house.  They had swarmed. 
Waiting patiently for another hour, they settled in three small groups on some plants in my garden.   close up of swarm 
Swarm settled in bush #2  Thankfully they had settled at knee high off the ground.  
kit required to catch a swarm

Deploying the rescue party, (me in bee suit with suitable wooden box and a water sprayer), I cut the plant that they were hanging to and dropped them carefully into the box, repeating for the other two groups.

Placing the lid on, I then waited for another hour allowing all the bees to enter through the small opening at the bottom of the box.
A little rain helped this progress.
swarm collected in box 

Having looked inside hive 3,  I realised I had missed a QC (the bees are very good at hiding them!). This queen was almost ready to emerge, causing the resulting swarm.

I estimate from her size and formation she is around 12 days 'old' meaning, 4 days from emerging from her cell fully formed.

Once this QC had been removed, I emptied the wooden box into the hive. All back where they belong. 

queen cell removed form comb  queen cell cut open 

bees fanning at entracne 

This picture show the bees fanning at the entrance to the hive, this allows the stragglers to find their new home.

So, what have I learnt?

The bees know what they are doing – even if I don’t.

Look more carefully for QC.  

Bees swarming although alarming (or 'scary' as my neighbour states), are the calmest bees possible.

Let’s see how they all get on.


Finally, I now know that my son is ‘ok’ with bee stings. While playing in the garden, a bee found his hair interesting and got caught up. He remained calm as I had taught him. Still the bee stung him, a few ice lollies and he recovered-she did not.

A picture of the sting is shown magnified x30.

Once I showed him the sting I had removed he seemed still interested in bees! He still wants his own bee suit……
honeybee sting magnified x30