Swarming and Prevention with Clipped Queen

I inspected one of my colonies on Saturday late afternoon and found a number of queen cells – 2 sealed, 4 unsealed and 5 with eggs in them. The queen cells had been raised in the 5 day period since my last inspection. The queen was still present and there were 3 frames of brood with quite a few eggs. A bit of a surprise as this was a nucleus colony set up a few weeks ago when the parent colony showed signs of swarming. I had hoped that by setting up a nuc with the old queen they would stop wanting to swarm. The queen is 2 years old, but the number of queen cells doesn’t indicate it would be a supersedure process.

Swarm over the front of hive

Getting Ready To Leave

With the queen still present and being unprepared I decided to leave for a day and go back in on Sunday to take out the queen and bank her.

Well the bees decided not to wait and had tried to swarm. The front of the hive was covered with bees and quite a few were on the floor. But fortunately for me I now clip all my queens and so the swarm was without a flying queen and didn’t take off. The clipped queen was on the floor surrounded by a few bees, so I picked her up and put into a Butler cage and banked her on top of one of the other colonies.

Clipped Queen on Floor

Clipped and marked queen on floor in front of hive

The bees gave up on the swarming activity, well at least for now, and within half an hour had gone back into the hive.

I will need to go back in a couple of days and reduce to just one queen cell.

Queen Rearing – Wilson Technique

Split Board made from solid floor

Split board with two entrances

One of my colonies has reached the stage where I expect it might begin its own swarming activities if I don’t intervene. The colony, Aqua, was on a double brood box with 12 frames of brood and 1 super. So I decided to carry out a variation of the Wilson technique (see for the full description).
The only extra piece of equipment I need at this stage is the solid floor that I have modified to act as a split board. The photo on the right shows the 2 slots covered with mesh and the entrance cut into the back of the floor with the normal entrance block narrowed down slightly. This technique is similar to one using a Snelgrove board, but it’s simpler with less manipulations required.

Modified brood box

Queen raiser box with division board

The brood box for the queen raiser portion has also been modified so that it can be split into two halves if a division board is inserted enabling me to raise 2 nucleus size colonies (my current plan).The split board and the modified brood box can be clipped together with toggle clamps to make subsequent inspections of the parent colony easier. I can just lift the queen raiser box and floor off in one go.




Wilson - Day 1 a.m.

1st manipulation on Day 1

Manipulation 1 – On Sunday a.m. 13th May – I split the colony up as follows:
1) Queen raiser – 8 frames of brood with as much unsealed brood as possible. 2 frames of drawn comb “filled” with syrup and placed at each end.
2) Parent colony – 4 frames of brood, 6 frames of stores and drawn comb
I built the colony up as follows: the parent colony (with the queen) on the existing floor, queen excluder, queen raiser, super.

The purpose of this manipulation is to get as many bees as possible to cover the brood in the upper box as this will become the queen rearing one.



Wilson - Day 1 p.m.

2nd manipulation with queen raiser on floor


Manipulation 2 – On Sunday p.m. 13th May – I swapped the positions of the 2 brood boxes around and replaced the queen excluder with the split board. The bees without the queen should start to raise queen cells from the eggs and larvae. The top box with the queen is now on the split board with the 2 side entrances open. The majority of the flying bees from the queen-right top box will return back to the original entrance and boost the queen raiser colony.





I will inspect the colony in a week to check that the queen is continuing to lay and that the queen raiser has built queen cells. I only need to perform one further manipulation in 10 days time before the queens emerge in the queen raiser. I will split the box into 2 halves with the division board and take out any excess queen cells leaving just one sealed cell in each half.

So as you can see it’s a fairly easy technique to use to raise one or two queens with no interruption to the colony’s foraging activities.