Capturing a swarm is a fun and usually, relatively easy experience. We always consider ourselves lucky to get bees from a swarm removal call – but this was an even luckier experience. We captured 3 queen bees from a tree that had 3 clusters of bees formed in it.
At first we thought it may be a few virgin queens – this can happen if queens are able to emerge from their queen cell before being “assassinated” be the reigning new queen of the hive. Newly emerged queen bees let out a piping noise to warn the old queen of her presence – this can often let the old queen know it’s time to go, initiating a swarm. If there are other emerging queens, they may also hurry up to fight for their lives. Basically, it’s a battle cry and can be the beginning of an epic queen battle.
Occasionally, multiple queens can leave the colony and cause multiple swarms but if the bees were related, they typically won’t fight. In the case of our 3 swarm tree, there was evidence of bees fighting it out and protecting their queen. This is behavior that usually takes place with different hives and with mated queens. So, we think we were just lucky that the bees found the same place and that we were able to be there.
The queens are laying eggs and all seems to be well, I guess we’ll never know why there were 3 honey bee swarms in one tree.