OBKA Tutor’s Blog #09 – Catching my bees swarming!

Swarm Collection – Saturday 2nd May 2020


I have been a member of OBKA since 2018 and keeping bees for 12 months. My one colony survived winter and looked very strong when I conducted my first inspection at the beginning of April. A great feeling of pride that I had got through my first big challenge of beekeeping. During my visit on 16th April I spotted a Queen cell, plenty of capped brood and a large number of drone cells and stores.


I made the decision to perform a split, (an operation to divide the colony leaving the Queen cells in the new half) and transferred the split into a Nuc box. During a brief inspection on 23 April I noticed the increase in the colony had been quite dramatic, I transferred the colony into a Brood box.


On Saturday 2nd May I attended my hives with a view to only conducting an inspection of the Hive with the original Queen. That hive was all fine, everything was as expected -plenty of stores, worker brood and drone cells and evidence of fresh eggs. During that inspection I noticed a lot of flying Bees around the area of my split colony.


I soon realised I was observing a swarm, presumably from that split colony. Fortunately, after a short period of time they decided to land on a nearby hedge. Once they appeared to calm down and cluster, I moved closer to get a better view.

With assistance of my son who was with me ( his first time of wanting to come with me to check the bees – lockdown for you !) we were able to capture the swarm safely into a Nuc travel box. Once most (almost all) were safely inside the Nuc box I sealed the entrance for 24 hours. I placed the Nuc box with my other Hives, in the location where I would eventually transfer them into the empty Hive.

I returned the following day and was able to transfer the colony into a brood box. I placed a rapid feeder (1:1) with homemade sugar syrup above the brood box; because they were my own bees I didn't need to isolate them and treat for varroa but was able to feed them straight away to encourage comb building.


In the space of two weeks I have gone from one strong Hive to three potentially strong colonies. I am looking forward to checking the colonies and watching them thrive. I have enjoyed the experience of splitting the colony and dealing with the swarm. I am sure I have made mistakes along the way but I will learn from them, such as leaving too many Queen celIs in the split.,With just one Queen cell they should not swarm but she may not be successful mated whilst with more than one Queen cell you may have a swarm with a Virgin Queen. As you can see in the first picture two swarms so perhaps two Queens left at the same time but in reuniting them the Queens will sort themselves out. It has been a great start to the season, I will be happy to provide an update as to how I get on throughout the summer.


Stay safe and well.


For more information on putting a swarm in a Nuc see this video from Stuart at the Norfolk Honey Company: https://youtu.be/nqVeNpC0aVY


Carl Goodman

Urban Beekeeper

Urban Beekeeper

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