Part 1: Are An Introduced Queen & A Swarm Related?

Part 1: Are An Introduced Queen & A Swarm Related?

I introduce a queen to a colony and a swarm goes over my garden a few hours later.  Are these incidents related?  I don’t know the answer to this question, yet.  I’ll post next week.

The Inspection

I am down to one hive after 2 seasons of weak colonies, wax moths, wasps and lets be honest, some bad beekeeping, so it was with crossed fingers I went to carry out my first inspection of the season.

At first glance all looked good, with bees coming and going … but I could also observe they were not bringing in any/much pollen, which was a worry.

In the hive there were no eggs, larvae or capped brood.  This was a big worry!  No pollen, but plenty of honey stores.  About 6 frames of bees.  I found the marked queen.  Luckily no cells with multiple eggs, which would have been a sign of Laying Workers.

I assume the queen has stopped laying and I assume there isn’t a virgin queen as there is no brood from which a virgin could have been made in the last few weeks.  I assume the Queen is producing enough pheromone to stop bees becoming Laying Workers.

Next Steps

I went online and bought a queen (delivery was going to take about 10 days).

To reduce risk of bees becoming workers, I added a frame of eggs from a friends hive (thanks Carolyn).

Introducing Queen (10 Days Later)

There is some best practice with how to introduce a queen but being (A) not a great beekeeper, (B) time limited (full time job and kids at home under lockdown) and (C) reducing the chance of beekeeper error, I did the minimum.  Doing the minimum does reduce the risk of the bees not accepting her … but I calculated this was a lower risk than me losing or injuring the queen.

So, I killed the current queen, removed the plastic tabs from the end of the queen cage and popped the cage into the hive.

Marked Queen 2019
Marked Queen 2019

I’ll inspect in 7 to 10 days to see if there are eggs or a dead queen.

The Swarm

So, I did all the above in the morning. Three hours later a large swarm went through our front garden, down the cul de sac, over a few neighbours gardens and then seemed to settle in a hole in a tree (high up).  Luckily the neighbours found the swarm reduced some of the monotony of lockdown and I shouted out to anyone that would listen that “it wasn’t mine” (probably wasn’t mine would have been more accurate).

I don’t think it was mine for the following reasons:

  1. Earlier the same day, I had both killed the queen (definitely) and left a queen in a cage which will take a few days to get her out of
  2. I presume there wasn’t a virgin queen in my hive (I hope)
  3. I think the swarm was too big (about 15,000 bees by my estimate: 30m long swarm x 10m wide x 5m high, with density of 10 bees per cubic metre – has any one got better ideas of how to estimate a flying swarm size?)

However, I’ll find out when I next inspect and you can find out in Part 2.

There was another swarm the next day, that passed 20m from my house. Starting to get excited about the season.  I need more bees, so I’ve ordered some Vita swarm attractant wipes (blog sponsor) and set up a nuc box.

Not My Swarm - April 2020
Not My Swarm – April 2020


Hope all going well with the start to your beekeeping seasons.

I also found these little wasp nests in the upstairs window sill.  Spring is in full flow.

Wasp Nest (Next To "Cole", From Ninjagos)
Wasp Nest (Next To “Cole”, From Ninjagos)