Why Bees Swarm
Sometimes queen cells may be observed within your hives, and when the virgin queen is getting ready to surface some of your bees may swarm. This usually happens during the hottest part of the day. What happens is that the older queen anticipating the emergence of the new will leave. When the older queen leaves she usually takes about half of the hive with her.
These bees can be seen rushing out of the hive’s entrance in masses. They may then be seen flying around in the air for a while; it reminds me of a military operation. Once they find somewhere to land the bees may cluster there for about an hour to an hour and a half. Once the scouting bees return with a new address, off they go.
Once at their new location, the bees will start building a new home for the queen. There is new combs to be made, brood to be reared, and food to be collected. The bees do not waste time procrastinating at all. A lesson to be learnt here!
The bees that stayed in the original hive will continue as if all is well, preparing for the new queen, collecting food and trying to keep the hive cool by bringing in water. And, drones are prepared for the virgin queen to mate.
One of the first things the new queen will do once she comes out her cell is to make sure she is the only royalty in the hive. If this new queen finds another queen there will be a fight to the death. Hence the reason the older queen swarmed with have the hive.
However, it is usually about a week after leaving her cell that the virgin queen will actually leave the hive to mate in flight. It usually takes about three to four day after, and she (new queen) should be laying eggs. She will mate some distance away from the hive. But if she is unable to leave her hive within about 20 days, the virgin’s ability to mate will diminish and she will only be able to produce drones.
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