The bees swarmed…. and then they came back!

My husband took a photo of me whilst I was doing the inspection today. I was smiling - obviously taken before I spotted the queen cells!

Seriously, can my bees just stay put and produce some honey!

Today I carried out an inspection at about midday. But before I tell you what I found, I’ll just recap:

About a month ago I carried out swarm control in the  Beehaus - which is modelled on the Dartington hive with an entrance on both the right and left sides and a divider in the middle. A month ago the bees were all on the left hand side but having seen queen cells I moved the queen and brood to the right side leaving the flying bees with the queen cells on the left. A controversial method according to my beekeeper followers on twitter and they were right because, as you may recall from an earlier post, the bees in the left swarmed with a virgin queen. Now I have a very depleted amount of bees on the left with a queen I can’t spot and no eggs being laid.

In the meantime, and as I saw during the inspection this morning, the right side is thriving. Expanding well with lots of bees. I was feeling very chuffed UNTIL I spotted at least 5 queen cells and yes, some had larvae in. Why do my bees want to keep leaving me? I decided to break down the queen cells to give me time to think about what method of swarm control to carry out next.

But I didn’t have much time to think because at 3:30pm the right-hand-side bees started pouring out of the entrance - my stomach dropped as I realised they were swarming and the only thing I was thinking was ‘I thought I’d broken down all the queen cells’. I quickly put on my bee suit and went to watch them. It is an incredible sight seeing a swarm in action. It’s very exciting. Although, I watched with some trepidation wondering where they’d land and how I was going to collect them.

They were collecting over the wall in the hedgerows next to the railway track. As I was thinking about who I could ask for a ladder the strangest thing started to happen - the bees were coming back to the hive. This makes sense as the queen has her wings clipped so she can’t actually fly. Bees won’t leave a hive without a queen.  

The bees coming back into the Beehaus. 

A view from the top of them fanning their wings and releasing the nasonov pheromone to indicate to the rest of bees to come inside as that's where the queen is

Although I should feel pleased that all my bees are back in the hive, I’m really not because once they have ideas on swarming, you can’t stop them. 

So, I need advice on what to do now. I need another method of swarm control. Currently I’m thinking of moving the brood and queen cell (there must be one even though I thought I broke them all down) to the left side with the depleted colony, leaving the queen and flying bees on the right. Will that work? 

I’m feeling kind of helpless so any advice would be much appreciated.


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