Swarm control – Demaree

The Demaree method of swarm control, devised by Kentucky beekeeper George Demaree in 1892, is a very effective method of preventing swarms but it will only work on strong colonies which have not begun making queen cells.  I’ve been using it for the past 4-5 years with great success especially when used in conjunction with a Snelgrove board. That way you can prevent a swarm, get a new queen and a great crop of honey.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Strong colonies with 9-11 frames of brood and no queen cells in one or two brood boxes.
  2. If the colony is in one box – you’ll need another one equipped with drawn combs and foundation plus stores.
  3. An empty nuc.
  • Find the queen and set her to one side (for safe keeping) in the nuc box, on the frame she was found;
  • Make sure there are no queen cells anywhere – if you find queen cells the Demaree won’t work so you will have to do something else such as an Artificial Swarm;
  • If the bees are in a double brood box, rearrange the frames so that all, or at least most, of the unsealed brood (eggs and larvae) is in one box (Box B) – if there is any left over, try and separate out the most mature capped brood and emerging brood and put this into Box A with any empty frames;
  • Leave a space in the middle of Box A and set this box on the floorboard/meshfloor;
  • 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.
Seven days later…
  • Come back after no less than 7 days and check the top box for cells. If there are no cells that’s great.
  •  There should be an empty frame or two by now where brood has hatched, so hook them out and set to one side;
  • Go through the bottom box and check for queen cells if there were none above there will almost certainly be none below;
  • Hook out a couple of frames of larvae/eggs and place these into Box B to replace the empty ones you removed;
  • Put the empty frames into Box A for the queen to lay into.
If there are queen cells…

Sometimes if there are two or three supers between the two brood boxes then the bees in the top box may be sufficiently isolated that they will build emergency queen cells. If this is the case you must decide whether they are good enough to keep. If they are puny just go carefully through and make sure you knock all off.

If the bees are strong and they have made you some good cells you are now in the fortunate position of being able to put in a Snelgrove board and proceed to rear a new queen but first make sure there are no cells below.

Click here for instructions on how to proceed with that

Click here for more on Snelgrove boards

Click here for a review of L.E.Snelgrove’s book ‘Swarming : Its Control and Prevention.

Click here for an easy way to hive a swarm

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