Artificial swarm, queen flies away


I have carried out several Artificial Swarms this year, experimenting with different methods.

Having not been able to inspect one of my colonies for 9 days, today I was able to have a look in a colony I suspected might be intending to swarm (last visit the colony was over crowded).

My suspicions were warranted as I checked the second outer frame to find several charged open queen cells, a sealed queen cell and the queen running around. The queen looked slim so was ready to leave with a swarm.

So today I tried the classic Pagden method; caught the queen in a queen clip, placed her safely within my closed bee box, moved the colony to a new stand, placing a frame with brood and attendant bees in the new brood box on the original stand, filled the box with fresh frames of undrawn foundation, took the queen from my bee box opened the clip on the frame of brood so that the queen could “run in” and she flew off. DAMN!

There was no use chasing after her and it is a good assumption that the colony will find her and bring her back so I placed the queen excluder above the brood box, followed by the two supers full of bees, replaced the lid and went off to inspect some other colonies.

Two hours later the “swarmed” colony was calm so I had a quick check. There she was on the frame with brood and the bees had started to draw out the adjacent frames.

This is not the first time a flying queen has returned for me. A couple of years ago when removing the attendants from a queen received in the post with the shed door open the queen flew off. I just stayed where I was and within a couple of minutes she returned and came to rest on my arm.

So the moral is that if a queen does fly off do not panic, just make the conditions right for her return, because she generally will.

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