Check for queen cells
It is essential to follow the bee colonies’ swarming behavior. The highest intensity to swarm continues until the main nectar flow begins. To estimate and detect swarming tendency:
- Follow the scale-hives online. When their weight begins to rise, the swarming tendency usually decreases.
- Follow the disposition of building new wax combs. The colony prepares to swarm, when building new combs stops.
- A. m. mellifera seldom hang out from the flight entrance when preparing to swarm, so don't wait for that.
- Once swarm cell building has started, splitting the hive is the natural solution to control swarming behavior.
- Take the old queen and a couple brood combs without queen cells with workers aside in its own bee hive (the unmarked queen might be very hard to find). The original colony that no longer has a queen will raise the new queen from a swarm cell. This queen will later be changed to a reared queen at the end of the season, usually during feeding!
Put one drone frame in every new, added hive body, The A. m. mellifera queen lays often eggs in every hive body.
There are always some naturally empty queen cell cups in the comb, usually in the lower corners. If there is an egg in the queen cell cup, it is always an indication of swarming. In fact, finding these eggs, or even grown queen larvae, in cell cups is the most important sign of swarming behavior. Checking the colony frame by frame is is a lot of work, but it is also a sure-fire way to detect swarming. In most cases, carefully checking three frames from the middle of the brood area will reveal swarming behavior, if it is present. Tilting the brood hive body and inspecting the lower edges of the frames is a fast method for detecting swarming behavior and it also reveals most cases of swarming behavior. If swarming behavior is detected (eggs in queen cell cups), additional steps should be taken to handle the swarming colony (see: Midd summer Catching swarms, making splits and nucleus).