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Author Topic: Forcing a swarm  (Read 3234 times)


  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Aug 2010
  • leslie, fife
  • i have chickens, sheep and opinions!!!
Forcing a swarm
« on: May 08, 2016, 12:58:29 pm »
Hi all

First time it's an issue brains gone mushy,

We have clear evidence of Queen cups in a thriving hive, so it's time to.split the colony.

What's the best/safest way this for a beginner.

I have anothwr hive sat waiting so just need details of best approach to use.



  • Joined Dec 2012
Re: Forcing a swarm
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2016, 09:34:40 am »
Have a look at the Haynes manual for beekeeping.  It has a clear description of how to do it :bee: :bee:


  • Joined Feb 2014
Re: Forcing a swarm
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2016, 12:08:49 pm »
I'm a bit of a newbie at this myself so take what I say with a massive IGNORANCE warning. 

I'm hoping to split my hive shortly and from memory the easiest approach seemed to be to move a few frames (with brood cells and the queen - not the queen cells) into the new hive along with a couple of frames that are predominantly honey - so about 5 in total.  Keep the hive closed for a few days/week (cant remember exactly) for the hive to develop.  In the original hive you then have to manage the queen cells that are being created.

I think the book also gives some guidance on how far the new hive needs to be away from the old one but I'll let someone far cleverer than me provide all the important details. 

Let me know how it goes.



  • Joined Jun 2013
  • South Wales .Carmarthenshire. SA18
Re: Forcing a swarm
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2016, 01:21:42 pm »
Methofd number one .. It's far to much messing around to my mind but if you only have two hives then this may be all you can do .

Put one frame of open brood with a sealed queen  cell inthe middle of two of sealed brood and add stores on the outer , at the very outside edges put un drawn frame .
 Close the original hive up in the late afternoon leaving it with one queen cell and move it three miles away for three days un
plug the hive before you leave or the bees will sweat /starve .
 Put the new hive in the place of the old hive so any bees out foraging can bring in new stores .

Second method 
Use wooden blocks or hollow cubes or blocks of polystyrene in a brood chamber to reduce the space down to six frames . build the hive as above & move it to the three mile site at early evening again don't forget to unplug the entrance.

Third method .
Make a cardboard box  to take six or seven  frames , put a double thickness of cardboard at  the ends so the frames can sit on the ledges formed ... allow a bee space above the frames .
 Cut a 1/2 " dia round or a 1/2" square hole in the lower part of the box at the narrow end to allow bees in & out . Don't make it a flap as often they close up & the bees suffer.
Again put an open brood frame with one queen cell on it in the middle , add a sealed brood frame each side , then add two of stores and drawn or empty frames on the outside.

 I liked making these cardboard neuc boxes as they were cheap & light . Giving them a covering of sheet sticky back plastic all over . Using a craft knife to open the top to take frames out and Sllotape to reseal it . This  allowed me to use them several times  till I eventually got round to making several dozen lidded Neuc boxes for seven frames with a 3 pint syrup feeder incorporated on the crown board .
Strong belief , triggers the mind to find the way ... Dyslexia just makes it that bit more amusing & interesting


  • Joined Jan 2009
  • West Cornwall
    • Movement is Life
Re: Forcing a swarm
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2016, 08:32:25 pm »

What are your intentions? Are you sure they are Queen cups? These would be cups charged with jelly ready to take an egg. If they are empty then they are just play cups and not necessarily early signs of swarming.
If you want to do artificial swarming then look up 'Pagden artificial swarming' - this relies on charged queen cells being in evidence.
If you want to preempt the swarming impulse you can do a 'walk away split' - basically divide all the frames evenly between 2 boxes - leave the boxes about 3ft apart and walk away - the colonies will sort themselves out with the flying foragers splitting themselves between the boxes. This is a very basic method, sounds easy but is not necessarily that appropriate.
On no account would I split the hive and then shut the one with the queen in it for any length of time.
My best advice would be for you to find a local beekeeper mentor who can help you through these early years gathering experience
Good luck


  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Aug 2010
  • leslie, fife
  • i have chickens, sheep and opinions!!!
Re: Forcing a swarm
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2016, 08:42:38 pm »
My club got me some info, we have definite cells with Royal jelly and larva, so today we have performed a shuffle of frames into brood boxes and restocked the hive according to instructions (had to be today as weather deteriorates tomorrow) tomorrow we will move the box that by then will only contain brood/Queen cells and house bees to a new base and will gave 2 colonies fingers crossed although some decent weather in about 10-14 days for mating flights would be awesome...


  • Joined Feb 2014
Re: Forcing a swarm
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2016, 11:31:53 pm »
Hi Bloomer, how did splitting the hive go?  the weather over the past couple of weeks has been pretty good so fingers crossed you are now the proud owner of a productive new hive!

I've gone from one to 3 in the space of a few days... found a swarm and did a split of my own hive... hopefully the good weather continues and the girls get busy!


  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Aug 2010
  • leslie, fife
  • i have chickens, sheep and opinions!!!
Re: Forcing a swarm
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2016, 07:55:22 am »
The split went fine, except the parent hive then swarmed anyway so from a raging beast of a hive I now have 2 small colonies, just waiting to do Queen checks on them next week to check all is okay...


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