Help, my bees have swarmed!

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New Bee
Apr 18, 2009
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Apologies for not searching for an answer but I'm hoping there might be someone on-line now who can advise.

About 3 x weeks ago, I put a second brood box on top of my existing box and this seemed to work a treat, as I got plenty of bees, plenty of brood and plenty of honey. Lower box full, upper box being worked on.

Yesterday, I took the upper box, complete with some queen cells and put it adjacent to the original box but turned through 90 degrees.

I then put a queen excluder on each brood box and a super (Langstroth) on each box.

This afternoon, I got a call to say that my bees had swarmed.

Sure enough, there's a big fat 'rugby-ball' of bees, hanging from the apple tree, a few feet above and to one side of the hives.

Now, when I moved the upper box, I actually destroyed one queen cell, which was just starting to hatch. However I counted at least 3 more at a similar stage.

The original brood box is still very busy, plenty of pollen going in and lots of activity. The second box still has lots of bees in place, they are at work sealing up the cracks and crevices on both hives, so is it likely, that a queen has hatched from the upper box and gone on a mating flight? Hence they's all hanging from the tree?

More pertinently, should I recover the 'ball' and put it back in the new hive?
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First thing, go get your swarm.

Second , was yesterday your first inspection since three weeks ago adding the second brrod box?

If so 3 weeks is to long for inspections, even if you had a cliped queen which sound like you dont.

I belive that in that three week period, a QC was raised and the queen will take flight as the last cell is being sealed.

And as you noted above you your queen was hatching.

I think the simple answer is, clips your queens and inpspect more frequently, weekly or tops with cliped every 2 weeks.
I have 2 x brood boxes and 2 x supers (will be getting another BB and 6 more supers this week)

Well, here's what I did

1. Call sec of New Forest Beekeepers.
His advice, was to put a sheet of paper, above BB, queen excluder on top, punch a few holes in paper, then put super on top, without frames.

2. First, I checked the 'new' BB for a queen. Found her (but very few of my bees in BB, they're all in that apple tree)

3. Checked 'old' BB for queen. Couldn't find her but stacks of capped brood, uncapped, honey and 3 queen cells, of which 2 looked empty. So I'm assuming that either there's a new queen in the original BB and a new one has taken up residence in the tree, or for some reason the old queen has decided to up and out of the BB. Original BB is chock full of bees.

4. Put paper, hole it, QE and super, without frames, on 'new' BB.

5. Put sheet on ground under tree, give hearty shake - bees are about 6'6" feet up and dump a few on sheet. Shake what I can into super. This wasn't very successful, there's a few score bees wandering around in the super. A few hundred more, still on sheet.

6. I spread the sheet out on the ground and watched as the bees start to clump in 3 or 4 groups. So I thought I'd put a frame of foundation (from the super) on the sheet. Hmm, result, largest group decide to cluster on the frame. Did this with three more frames, got most off sheet and put frames into super, with a glass crown board. Okay, several hundred now in super, with 3 x frames of new foundation.

7. Took another frame and placed on trunk of apple tree, about 2 foot of ground, where there's a large clump of bees - that I'd shaken out earlier - walking back up to the majority, still hanging on above.

8. Got another frame of foundation and shook another hefty pile of bees onto it from tree. They went into super.

9. Repeat 8 until all frames are used up.

I estimate I got maybe a half of the swarm and put them in the super. I'm hoping either they re-integrate with their sisters, or the sisters outside decide to go back and see what's in that BB.

I suppose I'm hoping I'll still have 2 x colonies, viable ones, with a queen in each in 2 x weeks time. However without another BB - can't get one 'til Tuesday earliest - I doubt I'll see the rest of the swarm again.

Ah well, this is my first season, having got the original colony last autumn, so lots to learn.
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firstly your location would be of assistance.

I seriously suggest you buy a good beekeeping book and do some intensive reading.

I cannot follow your story but is seems that you have lost your prime swarm, and went about regaining it in not the best of ways. You need to learn that bees love darkness (swam catching hint) and you need to learn the tables of development.

All that has happened was totally avoidable if some basic knowledge was taken on board.

I am willing to help anyone, provided they are willing to help themselves.

Yesterday, I took the upper box, complete with some queen cells and put it adjacent to the original box but turned through 90 degrees.

I then put a queen excluder on each brood box and a super (Langstroth) on each box.

Why were you doing this? Were you trying to split your colony or were you aware that it was about to swarm?
From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success! I think you need an experienced beekeeper to come and have a look. If you tell us where you are, one of us probably will.


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