Taranov Swarm

The best time to create a Taranov swarm is when swarming is imminent. If you see your bees swarm and return, or you open the hive and find capped swarm(queen) cells & a honey bound brood nest, most other measures (except maybe Shook Swarming) to prevent swarming will not work. They are too far gone in the process and the only thing you can do is help them along with the inevitable. But this way gives you options: you get to keep your bees, make some honey and help your apiary grow.

These pictures were taken from a Taranov Swarm I made after watching a hive swarm and then return. They were sure to swarm for real the next day, so other options like a split or adding supers for more room were not viable. A Shook Swarm could have been done, but I decided that a Taranov Swarm would allow me to make some nucs and add a super of Ross Rounds for some comb honey instead.

Steps for making a Taranov Swarm

  1. Gather the necessary equipment. An empty hive body, several large rocks or cement blocks, a piece of plywood, 1 or more nucs, a queen excluder, a complete hive set-up with bottom board, hive body, inner cover and telescoping cover. A bee brush, hive tool, veil and your smoker are needed too.

    Staging necessary equipment

    An empty hive body and board with cinder blocks are staged before beginning.

  2. Setting up the board in front of the hive

    A heavy cinder block is needed to counter the weight of all the bees. Set up the plywood so the edge is about 12″ to 8″ away from the entrance. Place a cement block under the plywood and also on top at the far edge. The angle is not critical but should be about 35 to 45 degrees.

  1. Remove the full hive bodies from the hive stand and put the empty hive body in its place.
  2. Set up your nuc(s) and have them on a stand with the queen excluder over the top. They should have several frames of honey and pollen, as they are the equivalent of a mating nuc. They will not have any field bees so will need to be fed or have some honey provided.
    Old queen, uncapped brood and honey go here

    Set up your additional hive body on its stand next to where you will be working. This is for the honey and uncapped brood. The queen goes in here if you spot her.

    Set up your nucs with an excluder above. Place any uncapped brood and some honey as well as frames with ripe queen cells.

    Set up your nucs with an excluder above. Place any uncapped brood and some honey as well as frames with ripe queen cells.


  3. Start brushing bees from each frame onto the plywood. Look at the frame first to try and spot the queen. Only frames with capped brood get placed into the hive body at the original location. Any frames with honey, uncapped brood or the queen goes into the additional hive body. Any frames with queen cells go into the nuc(s). Select several large queen cells for each nuc. Cull the rest. As you brush the bees onto the plywood, the field bees will fly back to the original location. The nurse bees and queen will walk to the edge of the plywood and then cluster underneath. Continue through the entire brood nest until you have no more frames to brush.

    Nurse bees and queen cluster under the board

    Nurse bees and queen will cluster under the board. Note the extra cinder block needed to handle the weight of the bees.

  4. Take your plywood with the adhering bees to the nuc(s) and brush them onto the queen excluder. NOTE: Using the excluder is not necessary if you have already located the queen and placed her in the new hive body. The nurse bees will go into the nucs to be on the frames of brood containing the swarm cells. It is important that the queen is not allowed into one of the nucs.
    Swarm cells on bottom of frame

    Swarm cells on frame are added to the nuc along with frames containing honey, pollen and uncapped brood.

    Nurse bees and possibly the queen clustered under the board ready to be added to the nucs.

    Nurse bees and possibly a queen clustered under the board ready to be added to the nucs.

7. End result: Two 4 frame nucs with ripe queen cells, a new nuc with the original queen and some uncapped brood, pollen and honey at a new location, a queenless hive body full of capped brood and a Ross Round super ready to be filled at the original location.

  1. Looking for the queen

    Brushed bees from board. Looking for the queen.

  2. Move the new hive body with the old queen, any uncapped brood and some honey and pollen to their new location. They will not have any field bees for a while so will need a food supply. Capped honey or sugar syrup.
  3. Close up the nucs and leave them alone for several weeks. The swarm cells should hatch and produce nice queens.
  4. If you placed all drawn comb and capped brood into the hive body at the original location, they are now hopelessly queenless. Any impulse to swarm is now gone. You can place a honey super, cut comb or Ross Round super above it and they will fill it up quickly. All the field bees will be located here as well as all the emerging brood. You can add a queen in a few weeks. It could even be one of the queens you made from the swarm cells. But during the period of queenlessness, with no brood to feed, they will make a lot of honey.

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