Swarm Receiving Hive
If we have collected our swarm, then it is prudent to take
any possible measures to make sure it does not abscond from the hive
that we place it in.
The arrangement of frames in a hive that is intended to
house a swarm, has a bearing on this and there are subtle differences
that can be employed at different times of day.
Frames with foundation are often recommended for hiving
swarms... This mimics a natural swarm which would have to build all
of its comb from scratch. A variation on this theme is narrow strips
or starter strips of foundation and I have had good success using
triangular foundation for the central group of frames. The
illustration at right shows frames fitted with foundation that has
been cut from corner to corner.
Old comb is attractive to bees and will have defects that
the bees will set to and correct, which keeps some of the bees 'busy'
and makes them less likely to depart from their new home.
Fresh drawn comb is not as attractive, but may have defects
for the bees to work on.
The ratio of the types of frame that should be used will be
tempered by what is actually available. My own preference is that
more than 50% of the frames should be full sheets of foundation with
any old or drawn combs in the centre of the box. I like to employ
used frames to provide a focus for the bees activity, if I am
performing the hiving early in the afternoon... I will sometimes
include frame of brood to act as a magnet. If it is late in the
evening then I prefer to use frames with starters or diagonally cut
foundation in the central region. If I have to use a full compliment
of frames with full sheets of foundation then I will poke a few holes
in the foundation of the central four frames. I make the holes close
to the top bar and about finger diameter (an
apple corer with
sharpened edges is an ideal tool for this purpose.
What! poke holes in new foundation? Is the indignant
question that often follows my statement, but it is good for various
reasons and actually speeds up the process of comb drawing.
The holes allow the clustering bees to communicate with one
another which gives them a more stable sense of community, it also
allows easy passage at several points for bees to traverse from one
side of the growing comb to the other.
A group of frames fitted with starter strips also allows this
communication as the bees will cluster on the top bars and starters
and hang below the edges of the strips.
If diagonally cut sheets of foundation are used then the
frames are placed with the triangles alternating, which will give a
similar easy passage around the edges of the foundation and has the
most open space in the centre of the group.
A disadvantage of using comb of any description is that
honey will be disgorged by bees more rapidly than would be the case
if no cells are available. This honey may not be fully consumed and
may be added to honey gathered in the first few days. Thus any disease
spores are not fully consumed in wax making and may lurk in the honey
to cause problems when ingested and fed to larvae.
I have also used an arrangement whereby the outer two, three
or four frames were drawn or old comb. The central three or four
frames were starter strips and the remaining spaces were full sheets
of foundation. The logic here is the bees will preferentially
cluster at the central region where they can maintain contact. There
will be traveling activity between this cluster and the outer drawn
frames and this travel imparts pheromones to the intervening sheets of
foundation which speeds up the utilisation and drawing of these
Once an overnight stay has occurred you will be unlucky if
the bees abscond, but if they do then you must inspect all the frames
and hive parts involved as there maybe a smell or contamination that
the bees find objectionable. (future link to pdb combs)
Generated... December 2001
Revised... 20 January 2002