May - June - July
Swarms and Control
The procedure is as follows:
Throughout the swarming season,
which in the UK is usually during May - July, the colony should be
inspected regularly every nine to ten days. On these occasions a
thorough check for any queen cells should be carried out. If any are
discovered the first procedure is to find the old queen, once found, the comb on
which she is situated should be removed, making sure she remains on the
comb. If there are any other queen cells on this comb they should be
destroyed. This comb with the queen still present must then to be placed
in the centre of a new brood box and the remaining space filled with drawn comb
Having undertaken this much of the procedure the old brood chamber must now be thoroughly inspected for any sealed queen cells, any being found should be cut out and destroyed. It is recommended that two unsealed queen cells containing larvae and plenty of royal jelly, well positioned centrally on the comb, be selected and left, although I personally prefer to leave three. Mark the tops of the frames containing these cells in some way, drawing pins or pen, replace any missing frames and close up the hive. If the combs contain plenty of food no further action is required but if not feed with sugar syrup as required.
After five days carefully inspect the combs by which time the chosen queen cells should be sealed. If this is the case check for any other cells that may have been started and destroy them. After this check, the colony should be closed up and left alone for a period of three weeks.
After the three weeks have elapsed inspect the colony, if you find eggs and larvae you can be assured that you now have a new laying queen. If fact you should now have two queen-right colonies. But do you really want two? If the answer to this question is no then the hive containing the young queen should be now moved (no more than 18" per day) back towards the hive containing the old queen until they are positioned next to each other (almost touching). The colony containing the old queen should then be inspected and the old queen found and destroyed (unless someone you know is desperate for a queen) and the two colonies united using the newspaper method, which is as follows:
This procedure is best carried out in the evening when most of the flying bees are in their respective hives. Go to the colony containing the new queen, remove the roof and crownboard. Place a double layer of newspaper (the bees seem to enjoy the financial times best!) on top of any supers, if any are there, held in position with a queen excluder, if not, on top of the brood box, make a few small slits with your hive tool in this paper. Take the brood box with the queenless colony and place this carefully on top of the queen-right colony with the paper in between. Make sure the paper is not broken, moved or folded over. Place the crownboard and roof back on top and leave alone. Check the following morning and if a pile of newspaper pieces is outside of the hive entrance and very few dead bees, you have successfully united your colonies. Leave alone for one week after which time the combs in the two boxes can be re-arranged and sorted to form an organised brood nest. If all the bees will fit into one brood box the the top brood box can be removed.
These tips are given as a guide only, this and many other methods have been tried over the years and details are available in many books on the subject. We hope that they give some help in your beekeeping. If you have any other interesting ideas please let us know, if they seem informative and useful we will be only too happy to include them.
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Copyright ©2001 Michael Jay