Caught Swarm

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House Bee
Apr 23, 2022
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Donegal, Ireland
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Hi All,

Today was the 1st good day in the North West of Ireland in over 2 weeks and the bramble flow is in full swing. Due to the bad weather, it’s been 17 days since I last inspected. You know what’s coming next! Opened up the hive to inspect, found one capped queen cell and 2 queen cells with royal jelly in them. Didn’t spot the queen but saw loads of eggs and brood at all stages. Didn’t have a nuc handy so decided I would close up and come back tomorrow to do a split with the old queen who I assumed was still there and remove all the queen cells bar the capped one. Went back and took off my suit etc and decided to do a walk around the site to see if there were any swarms present. Would you believe it, 50 metres away, there they were in a tree. Long panicked story short, got the nuc ready asap and got the swarm into the nuc and they are all fanning outside it now and any stragglers are going in.

My main question is, can I move this nuc about 100 metres away from the hive tonight and set them up there or do I need to take them 3k away for a week then bring them back?

Second question is, the original hive had 2 supers on, all foundationless frames, they’ve drawn out the 1st super and haven’t really started in any big way on the second super. Why would they have swarmed? They had plenty of space, just a natural urge?

Last question relates to the old saying, a swarm in July, etc… would this be an ideal opportunity to keep this nuc in reserve as an overwintered nuc? I’d rather not combine at a later stage if I can help it as I’d rather have the spare.

As always, thanks for the help!
Yes you can put them where’d you like. Swarms reset themselves.
A swarm in July let them fly means you won’t get honey from them but they will winter perfectly well.
Lack of space is only one aspect of swarm preps. Bees swarm to reproduce.
Whilst they may have had super space they’ll swarm if the brood nest is congested. You can pile on as many supers as you like but if she’s out of space for laying they’ll still go out the door!. Guessing you have a prime swarm there’s no reason why they shouldn’t fill out a single brood and be prepared for winter. Be prepared to move full frames of nectar/honey from the brood nest and or give another.
What Ian said. Empty boxes are space for bees but the queen needs comb to lay in, think nectar coming in faster than they can build comb and you realise they are feeling cramped.
At least you caught them though, eh? Great stuff!
Maybe an interesting observation from the swarm and the swarmed hive. Got around to moving the swarm from a nuc into a hive and luckily I did because they had all 6 frames fully drawn and packed with stores and brood. Interestingly, I spotted the queen and she wasn’t the queen I was expecting, definitely a new queen and not the marked queen which was in the original hive.

On the other hand, back in the original hive, I ended up removing 13 queen cells and leaving 1 which hatched about 8-9 days ago and I’m hoping is mated and about to start laying.

My new question is, when I caught the swarm from this hive and inspected the original hive the same day, there were multiple open queen cells that were charged and 1 capped cell. So far so standard. Cap the first cell, original queen swarms etc.

However, with the discovery of this new queen, it’s thrown things a bit. Could it be that the original queen was dispatched by the hive, a new one raised and mated all within the original hive before the bees decided it was time to swarm and preparations began and the net result was new queen swarmed when first swarm queen cell was capped?

There were eggs in the original hive the day it swarmed so there was definitely a laying queen in the hive. Looking at my notes, I had inspected the hive 3 weeks before actually - the weather had been terrible the entire 3 weeks, wet and windy - so is it feasible all that could have happened in that short space of time as I did spot the original queen on that inspection.

Not likely to be a completely unrelated swarm as while there is a wild swarm a few km away (I collected a swarm from it hanging over a road back in May), the biovac was literally 10-15m from my own hives.

I don’t know what happened, but everyone seems happy anyway.
Unless you saw the swarm leave and caught it you can’t guarantee it was yours. Some years ago I wandered through the apiary one afternoon and spotted a large swarm hanging in one of the neighbouring trees.
A thorough search through the hives produced every queen present so the swarm was from somewhere else