We have had an interesting few days with the bees, on Monday they decided to swarm. We weren't too surprise as during the weekly inspection on the Sunday we discovered 6 capped Queen cells, ones that were obviously missed the week before.
The cells were in the center of a frame, one possibility; the bees were looking to supersede the queen, the other they were about to or already had swarmed. There were eggs in some of the frames, so we knew the queen bee was still there 3 days ago. She was a young queen so unless she had been injured there was no reason for her to be superseded, so a swarm was likely.
We went through the frames one by one looking to see if we could see the queen, we never have before, so not finding her really didn't help. As Sunday was cold and overcast with the odd shower we took the chance that if they hadn't swarmed already they wouldn't do so until the following day.
The plan first thing Monday was to divide the hive into a couple of nucs. There were 3 frames, each with 2 capped cells on. One for each nuc and one to be left in the original hive to artificially swarm. The frames with brood and stores was also to be divided between the nucs.
As it was they swarmed before we had a chance to put the plan into action. Luckily my son who owns the bees, was there to see it and to capture them before they disappeared.
(unfortunately he only had his mobile phone camera)
Photo: Bees swarming
Once they had gathered together they soon settled very close by and we were able to put the skep above the swarm for them to crawl into.
Photos: 1. Swarm 2. Moving into the skep
Twice the bees left, once in the skep. As we felt maybe it was too small, the third time they were collected in a cardboard box, which was then tied in a sheet and left in the apiary until the evening when we would walk the bees into the hive.
Photo: 1:Finally caught in a cardboard box 2 & 3: Walking the bees into the hive.
Once inside the queen excluder and door guard were put into place and the bees left to settle for the night
The following morning there was an ominous black cloud in the sky, the bees were on the move again! At first we thought it may have been a cast swarm from the old hive, despite having squashed all but two of the capped Queen cells, the previous day. However after a few minutes circling the sky the cloud turned around and headed back to the hive. It was almost as if they had just remembered they had left the queen behind. The hive was completely covered with the bees as they slowly walked themselves back in.
Photo: Bees slowly working their way back into the hive
Fingers crossed they are now settled.