IÂ’m going on holiday at the end of the month for 10 days and am thinking of artificially swarming my strongest hive before I leave. Last week the bees had started building queen cups but no queen cells. Is it sensible to force an artificial swarm? Would it be better to set up a bait hive and not artificially swarm them?
I have heard of it, but have never seen it done nor a detailed explanation. How do you do an "artificial swarm"?
I would just do a split and call it good, myself, but that's at least partly because I don't know how to do the artificial swarm method.
Please enlighten us?
The Artificial Swarm
It involves the removal of all but one frame of brood from a colony, and replacing with frames of empty drawn comb or foundation, giving the bees the impression that they have already swarmed, and are in a new home, with much to be done.
1 Brood Chamber complete with frames fitted with drawn comb or foundation.
1 Crown Board.
From the colony to be manipulated, remove the roof and turn it upside down on the ground. Remove any supers and place on the up-turned roof. Remove the queen excluder, ensuring that the queen is not on it. Knock any adhering bees back into the hive to make sure.
Move the floor and brood chamber to new site.
Return to old site, and replace floor and brood chamber with new equipment. Remove the centre frame from this brood chamber.
Returning to new site, locate the queen, and put her and the frame she is on, into the new brood chamber on the old site. If swarming preparations have been started, make sure there are no queen cells on this frame, and if there are, break them down.
The queen is now in a new brood chamber with only her frame utilised. All the rest contain empty drawn comb or foundation.The queen excluder can now be replaced, followed by the supers and roof.
Back to the new site, where we now have the old brood chamber with one frame missing. Close the remaining frames up together to keep the brood nest intact, and replace the missing frame with the one taken from the new brood chamber. This frame must not interrupt the brood nest or itÂ’s contact with the stores.
Cover with the new crown board and roof.
The flying bees will leave the new site and return to the old one, where there will be a strong force of flying bees, with very little brood to feed, and nothing to do but store honey.
On the new site, all the young non-flying bees will be left to feed the brood and raise a new queen. Bearing in mind that there will be no foraging bees flying from this hive for a couple of days, make sure that they have sufficient stores, and if in doubt, feed.
This will now develop into a new colony with a brand new queen. This can be an effective way of increasing stocks, or can be united back to the old colony at the end of the season, replacing the old queen.
I'm sure it would work. It's almost another variation on a cut down split.