honey bee behavior swarming

One trap catches two swarms . . . at the same time

The next morning everything was the same, that is, one swarm in the alder, one in the cypress, and one in each of the two swarm traps. I had other things to do, so I didn’t look again until noon when—you guessed it—more surprises.

The cypress swarm was still in place, but very active. The huge swarm in the alder was gone. Vanished. The uppermost swarm trap seemed to be empty as well—I saw only scouts. But the second swarm trap was overflowing with bees at the opening plus there was a humongous swarm hanging from the bottom.

Was this outer swarm the one from the alder? Or was it an entirely different swarm? I have no clue. I put a hive together and, standing beneath the swarm trap, dropped the bees into a cardboard box with a rake. I had to do this several times but, ultimately, the swarm covered all ten frames of the new box. Do I have a queen? I’ll have to wait to know for sure.

Everything they do is unusual

By the time I went down to the house for a break, the cypress swarm was gone. I felt bad for it because it was kind of small and wouldn’t last long. I think it was a secondary or tertiary swarm, just based on its size.

With my husband’s help, I prepared another hive and he took down the occupied swarm trap. I couldn’t believe it: the trap was level full of bees. I don’t see how they got in or out. Three small combs had been started, but I didn’t see any eggs.

Here’s my question: did one swarm decide on that bait hive after the other swarm already moved in? Or had they decided earlier, waited too long, and then arrived only to find it full? How did this all happen? The unusual stuff is never in the books . . . and almost everything bees do is unusual.

Although I have one virgin queen and two old queens in reserve, I’m going to rear some more since I just don’t know how many I’m going to need. Anyway, that’s the end of the swarm story for now. I hope it slows down because I’m flat out of bee boxes.

Honey Bee Suite

The other large swarm is on the inside of this trap.

About ten minutes after raking, bees start to gather again.

Much later, my husband retrieves the second swarm.



  • “… and almost everything bees do is unusual.” We’re so lucky to have you to tell us about this stuff! So now, tell us, how do you keep queens in “reserve”?

  • Fantastic! Yeah, it’s tough to complain about too many bees. We’re having a season like that too – we’re flat out of hives, so no more swarms or splits, please!!

  • That’s incredible. I’m having the opposite problem in my neck of the woods. I’m moving to your neighbourhood. You’re just having too much fun.

  • Busy Bee Bidness, NICE! We are moving slow here also, but I just checked two of my swarm traps today. Got one, and Scout bees were checking out the other one, that’s about 100 yards away. The one I caught looks huge. It’s about time!
    I have a trap out in the woods near a bee tree that’s been there for a few years. I will go out tomorrow and check it. I really want this one. It’s a huge, vibrant hive of really dark bees with a fading Italian accent.

  • Well, I guess I can only hope the same might happen for me. This is my first swarming season, I’m in Florida so it happens early and boy is it a sight to see. We waited too long to add more room and let the brood box fill up. The bees gave us every indication that they were going to swarm, so we gave them a super and an empty frame in the brood box but it was, of course, too late. We lost the main swarm a couple days ago and they are still 20′ up in a tree in our yard. I set up the nuke box with some of their wax and a little lemon grass oil nearby in the off chance that they might decide that’s a good hive option. Some bee lure arrived in the mail last night, so I put it in the box as well.

    This morning, I walked out on my patio to catch a swarm moving in, wow my yard just isn’t that big. I don’t think this is the original swarm, as I can still see the original one in the tree..though it does look a bit smaller…if this is a secondary swarm, should I let them settle down and reintroduce them back to the main hive, or just find someone to give them too. Though I’m taking this seriously and learning as much as I can, I’m a suburban bee haver and don’t really have room or the desire for another full hive.

    Another question I have is, did I lure bees away from the main hive with the bee bait?

    Thank you for your time.

    • Paula,

      No, you did not entice the bees away from their hive with the lure. The “decision” to swarm happens long before the actual event and it is based on factors within the hive, not on the scent of a lure.

      You can introduce the swarmed bees into the original hive. If you do, make sure you remove one of the queens (so you don’t have two in one hive). Then you should combine using a standard technique such as a sheet of newspaper. You can place the newspaper over the brood box and then put an empty box or a box with frames above that. Add the swarm to the box and wait for the two colonies to combine into one.

  • Last year was my first year of beekeeping. I sure learned a lot and I learned I have much more to learn. Since I didn’t have money for bees, I got a few old boxes from the beekeeper and put them out. I was also very lucky to have access to two wild hives and permission to take the bees. The bait hives didn’t seem to be working till one day I looked up and there were bees going in and out of one I placed about 15 feet up in a tree.

    My grandson came over to lower it down for me. He learned that when you work with bees you should wear socks! 15 stings but he wouldn’t drop the hive even when I told him to. I learned not to place a bait hive so far off the ground. I am looking forward to spring and getting the bait hives up and catching more bees out of the wild hives. I caught all the bees out of one tree including a queen. Just a few weeks later a new hive of bees had moved in. I have a very healthy hive to catch out of my mother-in-laws front yard. I hope the bait hive wasn’t beginners luck! Just in case,I have a nuc ordered. Keeping bees is very interesting a a real challenge.

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