Follow our progress running the nursery, watching wild bees, keeping honey bees and creating our own bee-haven in south Oxfordshire

Have our queens swarmed?

Its a difficult business being a new beekeeper.  We probably should have spent more time getting trained but learning from books seemed to be going quite well till recently. A week ago we had lots of queen cell activity and were working on how to manage an artificial swarm.  However another week on and we find that neither of our original hives seem to have any new eggs or larvae which strongly suggests that our queens have swarmed.   So our current status is:

  • one original colony has two capped queen cells and only capped brood - assume old queen swarmed a week ago just after our last check. There are slightly fewer bees but still a viable quantity. Luckily we missed squashing a couple of cells so hopefully one of them will hatch and carry on the colony.
  • the other original colony has loads of queen cells, some capped, and some small larvae but no eggs and no sign of the queen who was marked.  Looks like the old queen swarmed a few days ago so we should have taken action on this hive last week to avoid this.  The good news is that there are still a lot of bees.
  • new artificial swarm colony - the queen cell has not hatched after 8+ days so is probably not viable and they have started to create an emergency queen cell.  About a third of the larvae appear to have died but some are fine; we probably didnt have enough nursery bees to look after them properly.  Not great but we have decided to just wait and see what happens to this colony.

Having done our research after yesterdays inspection we have decided to get home from work early this evening so we can go back into the 2nd hive to deal with the surplus of queen cells; we need at least one to replace the old queen but multiple queens risk a further swarm.

But where do the swarms go? We have had no complaints from neighbours and our lure hive is untouched.  Do they just disappear?