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flimbin 

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Hi,

I lost a swarm on 27th August and I left a single queen cell in the original colony. I have not opened the hive since then other than to take the roof off to add syrup to the feeder.

On Monday, the bees formed 2 clouds around the hive and also around a tree branch about 20 yds away. Eventually they all went back into the hive.
It's just happened again this morning. Does anyone know what is going on and if I should do anything about it?
 

admin 

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It sounds like your queen is doing mating flights.
Are you sure there was only one queen cell in the hive ?
 
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If they swarm and then sit around for 20 minutes or so before returning to the hive it usually a sign the queen was unable to fly and has probably been lost. The bees work out she is missing quite quickly and so return to the hive to await for a new queen to emerge from the queen cells left behind.

If you had a newly sealed queen cell on 27 August she should have emerged around about 4 September and I don't think it impossible that on Monday you saw her and the bees swarming, especially if you have had bad weather the previous week as we did here. If she was damaged, say by varroa (rare) or bad handling of the frame she may not have been able to fly. This doesn't explain the second swarm and my suspicion would be there was more than one queen cell - possibly one much younger than the one you left. They are very easy to miss unless you brush all the bees from each comb.

In your case it is also possible, given the timescale, the queen has been on a mating flight or two and what you saw was the excitement this sometimes causes, although I've personally not seen them get that excited. But this is hopefully what happened.

Either way, if this is your only colony there's not much you can do at the moment. Don't be tempted to have a quick peek as a new queen can be killed by the bees and short of introducing a new queen there is not much you can do whatever you find. I would look again in a week. Even then, it is early to expect the queen to have started laying but you might be lucky.

The outlook for this colony is not good as there is not much time for them to raise the over-wintering bees. If they did swarm a second time they are probably doomed, as Private Frazer would have said.
 

flimbin 

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Thanks. Hopefully, it's the bees being excited about a mating flight. I havent looked in the hive since 3 days after the swarm so the queen shouldnt have been damaged. At that time, I removed all but one queen cell and was very careful to only leave one.

I'll leave it alone until next week.
Thanks for your help
 

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