what are your swarm prevention methods and what kind of success are you having?
Standard hive management over here differs quite a lot. It goes like this:
A1) In early Spring (first pollen foraging) the broodnest is reduced to about 6-7 deep frames. All other frames are removed and tucked away for splits that are made later in the year. A follower board reduces hive volume and thus keeps the broodnest pretty warm.
Side note: I kept bees on three brood boxes and I saw the broodnest spreading throughout all the boxes. But the overall amount brood does not differ from a single. Same for the amount of bees. I did shook swarms in early Spring to compare singles versus triples and in neither of them were more bees. Just the same amount of bees. Crowded in a single or spread in a three box hive. (As mentioned above I also find the bottom box completely empty in early spring.)
A2) Before the first flow (fruit trees) two or three shallows with empty comb are given. Because the broodnest volume has been shrinked, the bees more than readily take the supers.
A3) Before the first flow stops, a comb or two of capped brood is taken from every hive and combined into a brood comb tower with or without a queen. It is called "careful bleeding". This slows swarm preparations.
A4) At the end of the main flow all swarms cells are broken down one time. If you use high bred Buckfast bees the bees won't draw swarm cells anymore.
A5) Done. Average honey production: 220 pounds per hive. (One hive consists of one deep, three shallows.)
This is a pretty easy management and you have no swarms (less than 10 % if any). It works with breeder queens.
Another standard management is (used with Carnolian bees for example, which have a slightly more tendency to swarm and which do not react to cell destruction as good):
B1) At first pollen flight reduce the broodnest as above.
B2) Super the wintered early before the first flow with whatever you have, drawn or foundation.
B3) Wait until the brood box/boxes are full of capped comb and the colony almost reaches population maximum. (Some simply wait for swarm cells, but it is safer to act before.) Mostly right in a main flow. Remove the old queen with two frames of capped brood for a split. Wait 9 days. Break all queen cells. Wait another 9 days. Break all queen cells. Give a mated young queen. Done for the year. There is no more swarming. During the 18 days of queenlessness a huge amount of nectar is stored into the hive. Bees forage like crazy if there is little brood to care for.
A variation is to break cells after 7 days except one like in the MDA splitter method and let them raise their own queen. In my experience this lowers the overall honey production due to the brood break for a month, because the young queen has to mate and fed before she can start fully laying. I also have the impression, queens lay better in the coming spring and not in their first year. But this is another topic.
Method A works very well and with little work and material involved, if you have high breed bees. Method B works well even with mongrels of all sorts.
Checkerboarding has been tried by quite a lot of people in Germany, but it didn't work out well. Even with experienced beekeepers, the reason why I didn't try it yet. (I trust those people, which I know personally and I respect their beekeeping wisdom.) Maybe details have been lost in translation or it simply doesn't work with the type of bees (most beekeepers keep Carnolians) and/or with the kind of flows we have here? Don't know.
Since method A and B are not very work intensive I am eager to listen how they compare with checkerboarding in time and material consumption and honey production per hive. Also I want to understand exactly how checkerboarding works, since I simply do not catch the idea behind it. So I may try it next Spring with some hives for a first test. For this I will post the configuration of the hives and hope for answers how to organize and manage them properly. Hopefully with the help of the inventors I will make checkerboard work. Thanks in advance.
Also I found this on beesouce:
Is it still valid? Or are there new findings?
Maybe timing is crucial. So lets see how the bee season goes where I live.
- First new brood. Very small patches of brood, though.
Beginning of March:
- First cleansing flights (in 2013 followed by a second cold snap and a second cleansing flight at April the 6th.)
- First drone brood. March, the 27th. (In 2013: April, 18rd)
- First nectar flow. March, the 27th. (In 2013: April, 23rd)
- First swarm cells (cups) visible April, 6th (In 2013: April, the 22nd)
- First drones flying April, the 21st. (In 2013: May, the 5th but just a few)
- About 18,000 brood cells in 2013: April, the 22nd
- Strong flow (main flow in 2012) May, the 8th
- First swarm May, the 20th. (2012 and 2013)
Bees swarm at around end of May here, when the first major flow ends. The dates shown are observed with colonies, that are not manipulated at all, just observed. (Fixed comb hives. No swarm preventions.)
So what do you suggest, which is the time/date to checkerboard? I usually winter in singles but I do have some hives on two deep brood boxes this winter. Would you consider the doubles better for the experiment?
If I understand correctly, end of February beginning of March (8th). Your cycles look very close to mine.
Thank you for the very detailed and informative post! I am in Zone 5, and yes, the timing of brood and flows is very close. The difference is that, although I have a flow in May (fruit bloom), the main flow is in June and the swarm preps are also mostly in June. Very interesting, though that method A is very close to what G. M. Doolittle did. I will have to work on it to see how to map the manipulations based on my flows.
I use only CB technique in my hives and it works. Not one swarm. The only thing that does not work for me is to have brood box full of uncured nectar or weak syrup going into the winter. Unlike Walt's area, our humidity here goes through the roof in the winter, so I need to have empty cells and capped or near capped honey to keep the moisture down. Some here only checkeboard 5 frames in the middle and that seems to accomplish the goal.
Also, I think the key to an earlier comment of an empty supper vs CB super is that they use the adjacent frame to feed brood, yet keep the broodnest compact. Just empty cells require more transportation to feed larvae.
BernhardHeuvel, we had our first pollen flight on March 8 in 2013. In 10 days my Carnie queens had about 2 frames of capped brood. I checkerboarded around 24th of March it worked out just fine. As long as the family is in one box and I don't have to disturb the brood nest, I find that I am early enough.
I checkerboarded my 5-frame April 10 packages and they did not swarm either.
This is it.
Again...Bologna. You most certainly did imply that what I said was directed at you. I allowed you to have your fun and your say and line up your ducks in support of your theory. I've never said your nectar management theory won't prevent swarming. I do maintain that checkerboarding isn't the only successful plan. I have disagreed with your theory of swarm repro c/o date and your idea that any swarms after that time are something other than repro-swarms.
This post was started using my name. It was started with the intention of belittling me and what I said. You took what I said in another thread out of context and used it to elevate you and your beekeeping dogma. I have photos of skyscraper hives too Walt, but won't bother posting them as you'll just find some other way to devalue what I believe to be true. Do you make more honey per colony than I do Walt? Gosh I hope so. 20 colonies is nothing but spit in the wind. How much total food do you make for your fellow human beings? How many families do you support with your work Walt?
You took what I said out of context. The original thread was about raising queen stock that wouldn't swarm. All stocks will swarm. Yes one can breed stocks that will have a lower propensity to swarm, but the swarming instinct will never be bred out of bees. Anyone who says they can is either a fool or a liar. Period.
Now, when I said that, you got your shorts in a bunch...because I said it, and used what I said to attack me. I took great delight in fantasizing about the wedgie you have, and it really got your blood pressure up when I mentioned luncheon meat, eh Walt. Whatever.
You wanted me to have the last word?? Again, Bologna. You ended this discussion a couple times already. And you and Walt's-Son-In-Law continue to add a bit more. Nice photos of skyscrapers Walt, but it doesn't mean much, really. I have seen plenty from other beekeepers who never heard of "checkerboarding" or some repro swarm c/o date theory.
Michael Palmer, You the man!
'let the sparks fly and the chips fall where they may' (anonymous quote)
these are important and intriguing topics for discussion, my hope is that the dialogue will continue....
many thanks to all for contributing.
>>squarepeg said...might the difference in observations have something to do with the difference in nectar flows between tennessee and vermont? in the southeast we have 2-3 months of spring flow, 1-2 months of summer dearth, and 1-2 months of fall flow, whereas in the northeast i believe there is less interruption through the spring-summer-fall flows. it does seem counter to the bee's well being to issue a repro swarm during dearth conditions. perhaps the cut-off has something to do with that, and the smaller swarms issued at those times are more supercedure in nature. i observed queen cells in a few of my colonies at the end of may that either did not swarm or issued such a small swarm that i did not notice a drop in population, nor did i find backfilling in the brood nest in these hives.<<
No, it has to do with Walt and hid dogma. Okay, a swarm that leaves before Walt's repro swarm c/o date is a reproductive swarm. What about the swarms that leave after that? Do you think that they are all tiny "supercedure" swarms? I've seen many large swarms come from strong colonies and strong multi-story nucs after Walt's date...adjusted to my area by bloom period. In fact, a strong colony on a strong flow with no overhead nectar storage will swarm. It doesn't matter if it's May, June, July, or August. So what do we call those mid to late summer swarms? Post-Repros?
>>i'm not sure i've ever heard walt make this claim, only that he was successful preventing swarming up to 100% in most seasons. i think most will agree that the swarming instinct cannot be bred out of bees.<<
I have no doubt that checkerboarding will help prevent swarming as will any nectar management that allows the bees timely overhead nectar storage. But you've hit the nail on the head...
"He was successful at preventing swarming up to 100% in most seasons". Most seasons SP. Not all seasons...same as any other viable plan.
>>like most things beekeeping there are lots of variables and a plethora of approaches that work<<
Have not seen that sketch in a long time. It is basically correct, but there have been some changes since it showed our wintering configurations. We now use only one config.
Coming out of winter, from the bottom, we have an empty shallow of drawn comb, the deep brood chamber, and two shallows of capped honey. In stores, that's equivalent to a double deep, properly prepared in the fall. In this area, we don't need the extra shallow of honey overhead, but it insures we have a full box of capped honey in late winter to checkerboard. We only had to sacrifice that extra box of honey for the first season of config change. After that, the increased production more than compensated for the loss.
Investment in future gain.
A pollen box was added below the basic deep to improve wintering. In late winter that's the empty box of drawn comb at the bottom. During the spring buildup, when the first shallow above the deep is filled with brood by expansion, that shallow is moved below the deep. Taking advantage of colony preference for rearing brood in a deep, the pollen box is backfilled with pollen in early spring, while pollen is plentiful. The pollen in the pollen box is only filled about a half cell depth and is fully fermented - giving it a dark, ugly look. We believe it is reserved for the fall buildup to rear wintering bees - consumption of that "bee bread" starts in early August, and the box is empty going into winter. We leave it in place overwinter and it is on site for checkerboarding in the following season.
If you would like to test CB, nobody is more interested in the results than I. Would be happy to help in any way I can. We don't get many reports of it not working.
I asked earlier if you were using "jumbos." Some areas of Europe use the larger Dadant box style. Don't remember a response to the question. CB would be difficult to apply to that type overwintering set up. And you did mention wintering in singles.
You will if you put a queen excluder under the box and the queen inside of it. :) Sorry, could not resist.
But all else being equal, I have observed that a queen will be found in a deep box more often than a medium one. I cannot per se ask a queen if she likes it there. I cannot even ask her entourage if they force her into a deep box. But what we cannot ask we can observe, no?
Well if you are going to use queen excluders then maybe what you observe is a result of what you do. Set your hive up with a deep on the top and four mediums on the bottom and then tell us what your observations are.
Don,t screw with the hive. Leave it alone. Just walk away.
You mean that after checkerboarding you have another broodnest manipulation? I thought all you had to do was checkerboard, and then super properly for the rest of the flow. You place the top brood box (shallow of brood from expansion) below the bottom brood box. The queen moves up to establish the deep as her central brood chamber. Is that correct?
This sounds just like what I do. Super early...checkerboarding is a form of early supering. Reverse brood chamber...move shallow of brood below deep chamber.
And what happens if you don't move that super of brood below the deep?
There are indeed many ways to prevent swarming. But there are only a few ways that prevent swarming AND make an optimum crop of honey. I think this is one time I would agree that it is not possible to breed the swarming propensity out of bees, but it still makes sense to breed bees with LESS of a swarming propensity because it makes colony manipulations to prevent swarming much more effective.