One of our hives swarmed about two weeks ago on June 17th. We caught it and hived it with no trouble (it’s nice when things go smoothly). We gave the new hive some syrup and then some frames of honey from another hive. I dropped by with some friends today just to take a quick peek and we spotted all kinds of fresh brood — and the queen. Here’s the video (the queen shows up at the 0:45 mark):


All our videos can be played back in 720p HD. I don’t know why 360p is the default setting.

The hive that swarmed two weeks ago should have swarmed with the old marked queen, but this queen isn’t marked. I’m not sure what to think of that. All I know is the hive has a mated queen that’s laying well. It’s hard to see in the video, but the queen is light coloured with distinctive rings on her abdomen similar to an Italian queen, but who knows. Whatever is going on, I’m happy to see it. Watching a young hive get on its feet and do well is more rewarding than trying to deal with our monster hives that have been swarming or on the verge of swarming for the past couple months.

P.S., I use the term “hive” and “colony” interchangeably. I shouldn’t because they’re two different things. Hive is another word for house — the boxes, the hollow logs, the sheltered enclosures where the bees live. Colony refers to the actual family of bees that live in the hive with the queen bee, the worker bees and the drones. They’re like The Borg Collective, all working together as one big happy colony. But in speaking to a general audience, most people know what I’m talking about when I say hive. So I just say hive.

UPDATE (July 17/12): See What Does a Honey Bee Queen Look Like for another good look at a queen.

5 Responses to “Queen in a Hived Swarm”

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  1. Catherine Dempsey says:

    Good to hear some happy news, Philip! Your experiences have been fascinating, especially since I am driving to Pasadena next weekend to pick up two nucs.

    • Phillip says:

      Good luck with your nucs, Catherine. I love nucs, watching them grow into full hives.

      I’m getting my mated queens next weekend too, to replace a failing queen and make some back up nucs.

  2. Chris Inch says:

    Beautiful queen! She looks like she knows what she’s doing. It must be nice to know that you have a healthy young colony on your hands. The video was great.

    • Phillip says:

      Yeah, I’m very pleased with this hive — and the colony of bees living in it. We thought we’d find a marked queen, because it’s the original queen that flies away in a swarm. Then we settled on the most likely scenario: We caught an after-swarm with a virgin queen or a newly mated queen. This hived swarm must have come from the colony that swarmed in our backyard over a month ago. Then we brought our hives to the new location out in the country, and it swarmed again with a newly mated queen.

      Maybe.

      A new swarm often supercedes the old queen, which I thought could have been a possibility here, but the hive was only started two weeks ago. They couldn’t create a new queen and have her mated and laying in two weeks. Hence, the unmarked queen came from an after-swarm (or a second swarm from the same colony).

      Or maybe not. But those are my best guesses.

      Either way, the queen is off to the races and the colony is expanding so fast, we might be able to stop feeding them syrup next week. (We have plenty of honey for them we can steal from one of our monster hives.)

      The colony is growing fast because (I’m guessing, as I always do):

      1) Swarms tend to build up fast, probably because they leave their original hive with their bellies full of honey.

      2) Right from the start, we gave them three frames of drawn comb with honey on the edges, plus some syrup. The queen had space to lay immediately. We also gave them three frames of uncapped honey a week later. So they’re well fed and they have plenty of drawn comb to work with.

      If it was a regular nuc, I would have started them off in a single deep, but because they were started from a swarm and we can only check on them once a week, we started them with two deeps, and both deeps seem well on their way to being filled. I love it.

  3. steve says:

    Great news on your Queen. Nice that you have been able to keep beekeeping.
    After too long having 2 Queenless hives, I sighted the queen in one and eggs in the other.I know the feeling when you are starting a new colony and waiting for the queen to emerge or start laying and you see it happen, almost joyful!
    Caught a swarm the other day but sadly I think it was from my hive at our community garden. Now i will have to wait again…
    Steve

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