Will a Newly Installed Nuc Swarm?

Ask the Expert!

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Backyard Beekeeping reader asks:

I installed a five-frame nuc seven days ago. The sun was setting by the time I was able to install the nucs in an eight frame box. So, I did not get a good chance to look at the frames, but I did notice a swarm cell. I have been feeding them. I wanted to get in there and check them today and probably add a super. However, it is raining all day today. Do I need to be worried about swarming today?

Rusty Burlew replies:

The appearance of a single swarm cell doesn’t mean much. Some colonies repeatedly build queen cups and swarm cells only to tear them down later. We don’t know why they do it, but it may just be a case of being prepared.

Although a five-frame nuc is unlikely to swarm, it is still possible. But as far as rain is concerned, I don’t consider rain a deterrent to swarming. I had three swarms settle in the trees in my yard last week. It rained every day, was drizzling when they took off, and it rained for two days after they regrouped. In fact, I see this every year, so I wouldn’t consider light rain a deterrent to swarming at all.

If the bees have decided to swarm, adding a super now won’t change anything. The decision to swarm is made many days before it actually happens, and adding more space after the swam decision is made won’t change their mind. If you find nectar filling recently used brood cells, you can assume they are getting ready to swarm.

In your case, I think it would be best to just wait until you’re comfortable doing an inspection. You can look for eggs, check the queen, and add a super at the same time. The bees already know what they’re going to do, so what you do today probably won’t matter in the long run.

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