Capped queen cell and my first artificial swarm

I've done it - my first ever go at artificial swarm control. It came sooner than what I would have liked but I'm hoping I've done the right thing. This is how it happened...

Inspecting the first few frames I thought nothing was amiss - all looked calm and happy inside the Beehaus. I even spotted eggs, which I never do and managed to photograph it too.

Can you spot the little white eggs inside the cells?

But on the sixth frame in I spotted some queen cups, similar to what I spotted last week. Scrapping them off with my hive tool I noticed no eggs inside. Phew! Although that phew didn't last for long because on the very next frame I saw a clump of queen cells hanging off the end of the frame and one was already capped. 

The arrow shows the capped queen cell
A capped queen cell means that there is a new queen cooking inside. But more importantly, it means the bees are about to swarm or should have actually swarmed already. Usually what they'd do is swarm with the queen leaving some bees with the queen cells behind so that when she hatches there'll be one new virgin queen to rule the roost, so to speak.

So, I needed to act fast! Thankfully I had my Beehaus Instruction Manual with me. In it there are three swarm control methods - easy, medium and difficult. I decided to go medium, which seemed a doable option on the spot. Swarm control really means splitting the hive so that the bees that want to swarm won't because the queen has been taken away from them and the colony is all of a sudden reduced because the beekeeper has split the colony into two.

Most beekeepers at this stage would get another hive but as the Beehaus is essentially two hives in one (divider in the middle and entrance either end, swarm control can be carried out all within it). I followed the instructions below to a T, well at least I think I did. 

So, I found Queen Pippa and moved her frame and all the rest apart from four to the other side of the Beehaus and added one new frame of foundation  I then left the four remaining frames in position including the one with the queen cell (I removed the other uncapped queen cells so there is only one queen cell now) and I inserted two new frames of foundation. There are no supers so I just put the cover boards and roof on. 

The theory with doing this I guess is that the returning forager bees will return to the hive and discover no queen but only a queen cell. They will be deterred from swarming as there is no queen to swarm with. My only concern when I left the Beehaus is that there was no activity whatsoever at the entrance to the other side (the Queen Pippa side) but I'm sure that the bees in there will find there way out.  This is what the Beehaus looked like when I'd finished:

On the left  is where Queen Pippa is reigning and on the right (the original side) is where the queen cell is, which will hopefully hatch in 8 days time. So, if I'm lucky I'll then have two colonies in the Beehaus.

It would be great to have some feedback from beekeepers as to their thoughts on what I've done. I'm still such a newbie at all this and I really just want to do the best for my bees. You can drop me an email or send me a tweet here.


  1. Sounds like you did the right thing to me. Which queen cell did you choose to leave? It's best to leave one in the centre rather than the sides, as the bees will find it easier to keep warm.


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