Swarm Prevention

Swarming is what bees do – if they are healthy they will swarm, so take that on board and you won’t be disappointed.

Swarm prevention is what you do before you find cells with larvae in them. If you find cells with larvae in them – you’re into swarm control.

The causes for swarming are gone into in these posts:

Swarm Prevention Measures

Space – Make sure the bees always have loads of space. If they are covering the top bars of the box when you remove the crown board you’re late! You should have had another super on there well before then. If you think about it, 2,000 bees per day are hatching at the height of the season so if you visit your bees once per week then 14,000 will have hatched since the last time you were there and another 14,000 will hatch before your next visit. Super before you need to. Super for bees and hope for honey.

Ventilation – is less of an issue if you are using mesh floors. If you are on solid floors – set your hive the ‘cold way’ for the summer ie frames perpendicular to the entrance and open the feed holes in the crown board.

Early splits – any hives with 9 frames of brood are ripe for splitting. If you do this before the middle of May there is a chance you could get a honey crop from both halves and neither half should swarm. That’s the theory.

Method

  1. First make sure there are no queen cells;
  2. Get a nuc box;
  3. Add  the queen – on the frame she is found;
  4. Two more frames of brood with adhering bees;
  5. A frame of pollen;
  6. A frame of stores;
  7. Shake in a few more bees;
  8. Strap it up and move to an out apiary.
  9. The other half will now make queen cells and unless it is very strong it shouldn’t swarm.

Equalise – This is a very useful in that it slows down your strongest hives and speeds up the weak one. Equalising the stocks in an apiary and getting them all to the same stage at the same time makes it easier to manage them. Here’s what to do:

  • Go to your weakest hives first and leave out a broodless frame from each of them;
  • Then go to your strongest hives;
  • Remove enough frames of emerging or capped brood to add to the weak ones;
  • Shake off the bees;
  • Add the emerging brood into the brood nests of the weak hives and add the broodless frames into the strong hives;
  • DO NOT ADD FRAMES OF EGGS OR LARVAE TO WEAK HIVES – THEY WILL NOT BE STRONG ENOUGH TO REAR THEM;
  • Don’t add more than one frame at a time – there probably won’t be enough bees to cover them and you’ll be looking at chilled brood on your next visit.

Demaree – For strong colonies with 9-11 frames of brood and no queen cells in one or two brood boxes. If the colony is in one box – you’ll need another one equipped with drawn combs and foundation plus stores.

  • Find the queen and set her to one side in a nuc box, on the frame she was found;
  • Make sure there are no queen cells anywhere;
  • If the bees are in a double brood box, rearrange the frames so that most of the unsealed-est brood is in one box (box B) – if there is any left over, try and put the sealed-est brood in the other box (box A);
  • Leave a space in the middle of box A;
  • Put the frame with the queen on it into the middle of box A with the sealed brood which will soon hatch leaving more space for her to lay into;
  • Rebuild as follows – floor, box A, queen excluder, supers, queen excluder, box B, crown board, roof;
  • If the bees are in single box, put the new box of fresh combs (minus the middle one) on the floor as box A, put the queen on the frame she was found, into the space in the middle then rebuild as above.

Snelgrove – we’ll have to get back to that one…

The book is called Swarming: It’s Prevention and Control by L.E.Snelgrove

Click here for Swarm Control

Click here for how to Demaree

If all this fails – click here for an easy way to hive a swarm

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