Signs of swarming?

I've been feeling a bit unsettled after my last inspection almost two weeks ago. The reason being that a lot of the bee journals and magazines I subscribe to are warning beekeepers of early swarming. I had spotted some empty queen cells or play cups during my previous look into the Beehaus and was feeling anxious that the bees were going to hot foot it out of there.

This lunchtime may not have been the best time to do an inspection - 14 degrees and partly cloudy - but considering we have rain on the cards for the next week I decided it was now or never. I was surprised to see just how busy the outside of the Beehaus was.

I lit the smoker and went in. This is the sight that greeted me. On my last inspection the bees weren't at the top of the frames and were a lot quieter. Today's bees were pretty buzzy and got buzzier the longer I was there. As the weather still isn't warm I thought I'd do a quick check through the frames as opposed to a full on disease inspection - will hold on for a warmer, sunnier day for that.

A chain gang of bees.

And then I spotted them - the queen cells. There were quite a few on a number of frames. When I looked into these ones there didn't appear to be any eggs in them. 

But then the long one on this frame had a grub in it. I pinched it off.

Here it is with the oozy grub inside.

So, it looks like I'm going to have to activate my swarm control plan. The only problem is that I can't find the queen. To be fair, her spot was pretty faint last year so it could have just rubbed off. Also, how do I know that the bees want to swarm and not just replace the old queen with a new one? She is a few years old after all. 

I know a reason for swarming is to do with space issues so I added an extra frame into the hive so now there are 12 frames plus one super above, although the bees haven't drawn any of the frames out since I put the super there two weeks ago.


  1. Some books say that large numbers of queen cells are more likely to mean swarming and one or two cells in the middle of a frame more likely to be supersedure. But this is not guaranteed. Probably best to do something soon, trouble is this weather is making inspecting so difficult!


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