Queen Bank Swarming

NewYorkCityBeekeeping.org  July 14, 2014

The hive in this video is swarming, but comes back home. What wizardry is this?

The hive is a queen bank, so all the queens in the hive are caged. When the swarm realizes there is no queen with them, they return to the hive, even ignoring the queen on the step ladder, as it is unfamiliar to them.

The lesson here is that when you make a split to avoid a swarm, the old queen must move to the split, not stay in the parent hive. (Video and queen bank courtesy of Karen Thurlow-Kimball of Brown's Bee Farm in North Yarmouth, Maine, not far from Sebascodegan Island). 

Once a week for the past three weeks every bee in my queen bank will swarm out. The entrance is small so I pull off the cover when I see it happening so they do not clog it up. They all fly out, fly around the field, realize there is no queen with them and return to the hive. Meanwhile the queens in the cages start piping loudly to the swarming bees. This time I put a step ladder in the field with a caged queen on it to see if they would land, all but a few ignored it. They went to the hive and then the few that had landed on the cage went back too. It is amazing to watch.