Soo, My Hive Has Swarmed

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House Bee
Apr 23, 2022
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Donegal, Ireland
Hive Type
Number of Hives
Brood and a half inspected 10 days ago (Friday April 7) before I went away returning today. The hive looked pretty full, brood over 6 frames in the Brood Box and maybe 3 or 4 up in the super which I had left on over winter. I did notice a lot of stores, and a lot of capped honey which I was very surprised to see so I added a super knowing I wouldn’t be back for 10 days. Opened up today, super is well on the way to being drawn but maybe 8 or 9 queen cells, 5 capped cells and the rest not capped but I assume about to be. No sign of the queen or eggs. The queen must have swarmed either earlier today or yesterday before I got back. Nothing in my 3 bait hives - maybe not surprising given they are close by.

I had 2 spare nucs which I then put a frame with a capped cell in one and another with 3 cells (2 capped). Took down the others in the original hive and left one good looking capped cell and closed up. I then put a frame of brood (a mix of capped and emerging) as well as a frame of stores, 1 old brood frame in each (not connected to the original hive) and 2 empty frames - both are 6 frame BS honey nucs. I then shook some bees into both nucs and closed up both and moved to different locations in the apiary.

My questions are:

1. Have I taken the right approach given the circumstance?
2. Was it okay to make up 2 nucs rather than just 1? I don’t want to weaken the original hive far too much.
3. Both nucs are about 100m away and I have the ventilation holes open but the bees can’t get out. When can I open these? I don’t want to keep them in too long given the warm weather this week.
4. What should I do with the nuc with the frame with 3 cells? Break down to 1 or could I let the emerging queen take care of the other two? Or will she swarm?
5. Should I feed the nucs 2:1 syrup?
6. I notice a few bees, say 10, flying around the ventilation hole of one of the nucs, why would that be?

As always, I appreciate the wisdom and advice. I’m annoyed the original swarm has managed to get away, I was fully planning to do a split this week as swarm prevention. I’m really surprised the hives are as strong as they are given the poor weather in early spring. I didn’t inspect until the week before all this due to the poor weather. Anyway, we live and learn.

Another question before I forget, when should I have another look inside the hive/nucs to make sure all going to plan?
Another question before I forget, when should I have another look inside the hive/nucs to make sure all going to plan?
I’d check to see if the 2 nucs have enough bees but just in the top! You need to be very careful going back in because cells have often been attached to adjacent frame.
If there’s no eggs she probably went over 3 days ago.
The nucs should sort themselves out with 1 remaining queen if they have plenty of space and the main hive is so much reduced they are unlikely to………Bees can be a little contradictory though😂
Bees in poly nucs don’t do well even with a mesh floor they can over heat if confined. I’ve done it!!! I’d open tonight but put some obstacles around the entrance. You’re unlikely to gain much of an advantage by confining longer. If they are going to return they will.
I’d check to see if the 2 nucs have enough bees but just in the top! You need to be very careful going back in because cells have often been attached to adjacent frame.

and no real point in shutting them up, the bees left are mostly nurse bees, and as you've spread them a bit thin will stay to cover the brood
My questions are
1 Yes
2 Without seeing the splits, no way to say
3 Open them now; flyers will return home
4 Leave it to them; too weak to swarm
5 If you gave one frame of honey they won't starve, but as they have no foragers, feed lightly
6 Because they can
7 Look again in 3 weeks, quietly, for eggs
Thanks for the replies. Checked both nucs this morning when adding a small bit of syrup. Bees covering all 3 frames in both nucs so hopefully a successful operation. I won’t open the main hive for a few weeks. Now we wait for the queens!
I know it was recommended above but when making up nucs from a big colonies hold back on feeding straight away…probably more later in the season but returning flying bees can bring the message home and they can rob out the nuc!
So it’s been a few days since I split the 2 nucs (Monday). Both nucs were quiet for the first 2 days then yesterday the nuc on the pallet started to see a good bit of activity out front while the one on the roof has none. I was thinking, could this be robbing as I wouldn’t have expected to see flying bees out of the nucs so soon - although I know it depends on the age of the nurse bees. I made up some makeshift robbing guards last night and put them on as a temporary test. Same again this morning, pallet hive is busy and bees seem to be going in and out without there being too much hindrance and the roof nuc is still quiet. Am I mistaking orientation flights for robbing behaviour? Interestingly, the nuc on the roof has polished off a litre of syrup while the pallet nuc hasn’t touched theirs.


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Quite a bit in flower at the moment - dandelion, the end of the willow, hawthorn in a big way the last week or so, bird cherry, plums are starting and there has been a constant supply of whin/gorse in recent weeks. I don’t see any fighting at the entrance or wax out front. It just looks like a lot of bees given I only made up the nuc 4 days ago.
Yes, you’re right Blackthorn - flowers before leaves - I always get those two mixed up. Thanks for the reassurance!

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