Just before the swarm

Last week when inspecting the colonies on Tuesday we tore down several queen cells in Hive 2 and rearranged things so that the colony had more space. The next full inspection was not due for a further 9 days so on Monday (7 days on) a quick inspection was carried out. The queen was seen but there were several good swarm cells just about to be capped.

A nucleus box was placed next to the hive with the entrance facing the opposite direction. The frame with the queen on was placed in the Nuc along with four further frames from the main hive containing stores and all stages of brood. Queen cells on the frames transferred to the Nuc were torn down. The brood frames in the main hive were placed together in the centre of the brood box and flanked by fresh frames.

By removing the queen we have prevented a swarm issuing until at least when the 1st virgin queen emerges (8 days after queen cell capped) and by reducing the brood the colony may now not swarm due to the lack of young bees.

Positioning the Nuc box close to the original hive maintains our options for what to do with the colony and the original queen.

At the next inspection we may split the main hive again if we have sufficient good sealed swarm cells, further reducing the chance of a swarm issuing and hopefully resulting in an additional small colony for use during the busy training programme this summer.

It has been an early spring this year and there are reports from several members of colonies swarming already, we were lucky in being able to save the queen and prevent a swarm issuing. At this time of year one should carry out inspections every 7 days and if a colony starts swarm preparations carry out preventative measures such as an artificial swarm.

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