They swarmed anyway. Now what?
Okay, the bees swarmed anyway. You’re not alone; it happens. The good news is that you may be able to capture your swarm and start another colony. You wanted a new hive of bees anyway, didn’t you? In any event, what should you do with the half of the colony that remains? Follow these steps:
1. A week after your colony swarms, inspect the hive to determine whether you have a new queen. You might spot a queen cell or two along the lower third of the frames . Good! That’s an encouraging sign. It means a new queen is “in the oven.” But you must ultimately determine if the colony’s new queen is laying eggs. One week after a swarm you’re unlikely to see any eggs — it’s too soon for the new queen to get to work. But do have a look and see if you can find her majesty. If you can, great! Close up the hive and wait another week. If you don’t see the queen, wait a couple more days and have another look. After the swarm, it will take six to eight days for the queen cell to open and a new virgin queen to emerge. Then allow three to four more days for her to mate with the drones. After another three to four days, she will start laying eggs. The total elapsed time since the swarm is about two weeks.
Consider marking your new queen once you’ve found her. It’s common for a beekeeper to place a daub of color on the queen’s thorax (back). Marking queens makes them easier to find during future inspections, and verifies that the queen you see is the same one you saw during previous inspections.
2. Two weeks after the swarm, open the hive again and look for eggs. Do you see eggs? If so, you have a queen, and your colony is off and running. Close things up and celebrate with a glass of mead. If there’s still no sign of a queen or her eggs, order a new queen from your bee supplier. Hive the replacement queen as soon as she arrives . If you don’t follow up after a swarm, the colony can easily become queenless without you ever being aware of it. No queen, no brood. No brood, no good.
1. Have at-the-ready a new hive body with nine frames and foundation, bottom board, hive-top feeder and outer cover.
2. Turn your attention to the suspect hive. Smoke and inspect, looking for the frame with the queen on it. When you find that regal frame, gently put it aside. Be careful! The queen is on that frame! You can make use of a empty nuc box or another empty hive body to hold this frame out of harm’s way. In any event, find a way to keep the queen and frame safe and sound while you tend to other things.
3. Move the old hive at least 10 feet away from its original location (here’s where a wheelbarrow or hive lifter comes in handy).
4. Now place the new hive setup where the old hive was previously located.
5. Place a bed sheet in front of the new hive, from the ground to the entrance board. You are creating a ramp for the bees that you are about to unceremoniously dump in front of this hive.
6. Back to the old hive. One by one, take each frame out of the old hive, and shake 80 to 90 percent of the bees off the frames (use a bee brush if you prefer) and onto the bed sheet ramp in front of the new hive. They will march their way right into the new hive. Make sure you don’t shake all of the bees off the frames. About 10 to 20 percent of the bees should remain on the old frames.
7. Put these old frames (with some bees still clinging to them) back into the old hive. At this point, the old hive has nine of its original frames containing brood, larvae, eggs, and about 10 to 20 percent of the bees. Remember that these frames must contain at least one queen cell. Add a new frame and foundation to take up the empty (tenth) slot.
8. Here’s where you take the frame with the old queen and gently brush her onto the entrance of the new hive. Bee careful!
9. Take the frame that the queen was on and slip it into the tenth slot of the new hive. Your new hive now contains this “old” frame, nine new frames with foundation, and about 80 to 90 percent of the bees. Plus the original queen.
10. Feed syrup to both hives using hive-top feeders or some other suitable feeding device. It’s a good practice to close up the new hive for a day or two by pushing screening along the entrance way. Confining the bees in this manner gets them working on building new comb and helps them get over the swarming instinct.
From : “Beekeeping For Dummies” By Howland Blackiston.