Hiving A Swarm

Hiving A Swarm


I found hiving a swarm the first time quite an adrenaline rush, and if I am being honest, quite scary! But, not many experiences in life can beat successfully hiving a swarm, observing the bees flying in-and-out over the next few days and realising that you have supported a honeybee colony and created a honey-making factory.

The Basics

  • Time of year: Swarming happens in Spring and Summer.  The earlier in the year you hive the swarm the more time it will have to build up its stores and get settled in.  Don’t expect surplus honey in year one.
  • Time of day: Hive the swarm in the evening as they then have all night to settle in and less likely to abscond
  • Making the hive attractive: Swarms are very useful for drawing out new comb but they are also more likely to stay if you provide them with drawn out foundation.  Experienced beekeepers often use a blend of new foundation and drawn out comb.
  • Place a Queen excluder above the hive floor for a couple of days to keep the Queen inside
  • Feeding: Definitely feed them. Use a Light Sugar Syrup (1Kg sugar : 1L water).  See How To Feed Bees for more information on this.
  • Probability of absconding: Has anyone get any stats on how many swarms stay and how many abscond?
  • Emotions: The first time you do this emotions will be running high.  Read this page and don’t make the same mistakes as me.

Method 1: Throwing The Bees

This is the only method I have used. The first swarm I hived absconded the next day, but the next swarm stayed … well, at least for a couple of months and they drew out 7 of the 11 the frames and left some honey stores for the next swarm.

Put 3 frames at each end of your brood box, leaving a 5 frame gap in the middle of your brood box.  “Throw” the bees into this gap by turning the box they are in upside down and thumping it.  The first time I did this I forgot to open the box and ended up with a lot of angry and disorientated bees as I shook and thumped the box and wondered why they weren’t just falling out. So open the box first!

Gently place the remaining 5 frames on top of the pile of bees, allowing these frames to slowly sink as the bees move away and start climbing.

Place a rapid feeder on top of the frames filled with sugar syrup and then an empty super with no frames (as you have a feeder in place) and roof.

Leave for 2 weeks as they get settled in.

Hear are my stories of hiving swarms: Hiving A Swarm (contains a video clip and photos), Easy Come Easy Go, Hiving A Swarm … Again (this time a success) and Attack Of The Swarm.

Method 2: Walking The Bees

Prepare the hive with combs or frames of foundation and set up a ramp, or sheet, from the ground up to the hive entrance. Make sure the sheet is long enough and provides a continuous surface so that you can throw the bees on to the sheet and they can sense which way is up and find the entrance.

Watch this video clip as it is pretty amazing, but turn the volume off as you can only hear the wind:

Read More

These how-to guides are provided for general interest and information only.  No liability is accepted for any injury or loss arising out of the contents of these pages.

5 thoughts on “Hiving A Swarm”

  1. Thanks for your article on hiving bees . Was hoping you had some magical perfect way to Hive the new swarm. Lol. I know now I’m not the only one who is having trouble with them Leaving. Apparently there’s no perfect answer to this common problem. Please keep me posted on any other ideas you come across that might increase my success rate of getting the bees to stay

  2. Hi.
    Very interesting article. I have just Hived a swarm today. Do I keep them confined to the hive or keep the entrance open.

  3. I have caught and hived a swarm. I put a deep brood box, with 10 frames on the bottom and an empty super on top. My feeder in a top feeder. I went in a few days later and they have drawn a massive amount of comb straight off the bottom of the lid, right around the feeder hole. Now how do I get this massive piece of comb integrated into the new hive??? Should I cut it off and place it in place of a few frames I pull out of the deep brood box?

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