I am looking to try some Russians this year but I have concerns regarding their rep. for swarming. I recently read in Bonny's Management Book about the Snellgrove Method but the context was for use after queens cells were present. What are the best practices to prevent swarming and can someone clarify the Snellgrove Method.
>I am looking to try some Russians this year but I have concerns regarding their rep. for swarming.
All bees swarm given the right circumstances. All bees don't swarm given the right circumstances. Some are a little more prone to swarming, but the principles are the same.
>I recently read in Bonny's Management Book about the Snellgrove Method but the context was for use after queens cells were present.
I have Snelgroves queen rearing book but not his books on swarm prevention. I think it's some variation of a Deemaree? Try looking that up in the forums and you'll find a description of that.
>What are the best practices to prevent swarming and can someone clarify the Snellgrove Method.
My first method is simply keep the brood nest from getting to crowded, (both with honey and bees) keep adequate ventilation (bees making a beard on the hive in the heat of the day is a good indication you have a ventilation problem). If you find you have a ventilation problem, a Screened Bottom Board (SBB) is a good start. Propping open the inner cover with a stick makes a big differece. I usually use a vent box on top. www.beeworks.com sells a vent kit, or you can put some more holes in an inner cover (I like to use a hole saw the size of a mason jar lid so I can feed through it) and cover all the holes with #8 hardware cloth and put a box on top of the inner cover with some holes in the ends of the box covered with #8 hardware cloth and a cover on top of that. Or use a Imirie shim for ventilation and a top entrance. (See Brushy Mt. Bee farm catalog for a picture) Or just drill a hole in the top box and either leave it open for a top entrance or cover with screen wire for just ventilation.
Putting an empty frame in the brood nest gives the queen somewhere to lay and makes the nest less crowded.
There are several more labor intensive ways to prevent swarming and possibly use up their desire to raise a new queen and save buying qeens for requeening.
In one variation of a "cut down split", you split the hive and redistribute things so the bees won't swarm and they will raise a new queen. This should be done just before the main flow.
Put a bottom board behind the current hive and another next to it. Restack all of the boxes of the current hive on bottom board next to the current location. Go through each frame of the brood chamber and put all the open brood and the current queen into the hive behind the current one. Put one frame with some eggs and all the capped brood into the old hive. Shake all the rest of the bees into the old hive and add empty supers. Put all the rest of the hive on the new location. Now you have two hives where one was. All of the field bees will go to the old location. All of the emerging bees are in the old location. The old location is queenless and crowded. A queenless hive will not swarm no matter how crowded, until they have a queen and a broodnest full of brood. The queenless part will raise a new queen and the nurse bees, with nothing to do, will all forage. The new hive is not queenless but is shorthanded on bees (not crowded) and therefore won't swarm.
I'm not so sure that all this work is worth it or not, but it's a popular method of maximizing your honey crop and preventing swarming.
Thank you for the information. However, I am very confused with your suggestion of the cut down/split method.
It sounds like we end up with capped brood, and field bees in the old location and the queen and open brood and nurse bees in the new location.
So, we have made a split. Can the hives be combined again in a week or so? Can the new hive be placed over the old hive using a snelgrove board and a QE. Otherwise I am afraid I might miss the spring crop.
>It sounds like we end up with capped brood, and field bees in the old location and the queen and open brood and nurse bees in the new location.
Exactly. Therefore the crowded portion of the hive is queenless and won't swarm, but will produce honey nicely and a new queen and needs no resources for brood rearing.
The Queenright portion has just nurse bees, no field bees and will not swarm beacuse it has no field force. It will continue to produce brood, which will take it's resources.
>So, we have made a split. Can the hives be combined again in a week or so?
Generally it is combined after the main honey flow, if you don't want another hive, or you can leave it as a split if you do want another hive. If you do a newspaper combine, usually the bees will keep the young queen, so you have requeened.
>Can the new hive be placed over the old hive using a snelgrove board and a QE.
That is another method, but requires more manipulation than I want to do. If you put the queenright portion on top and keep rotating which of the toggles on the snelgrove board you open and as rotate the top opening, you open the bottom one that matches the top toggle you just closed. That way the field bees from the top hive keep returning to the bottom hive, boosting the population of foragers below.
>Otherwise I am afraid I might miss the spring crop.
If you overcrowd the old hive with all the field bees and all the emerging brood, it will have lots of foragers for the honey flow. Of course timing is everything. You do this just before the main flow.
You can also just keep the brood nest from getting honey bound and keep plenty of supers on and provide ventilation and the bees will not get too crowded and won't be wanting to swarm.
Of course sometimes they just do swarm no matter what you do. It's what bees do.
I have snelgroves book and have used his method. Snelgroves method is in essence a two queen hive method. If the bees start cells you place them over a screen board that has the 6 toggled doors on it and allow the cells to hatch and mate. with the old queen below. The bees are milked off from the top hive to the bottom by opening and closing the toggle doors. Both top and bottom units can be supered brood can be moved from one unit to the other to prevent crowding and to open up. The method is quite effective but requires some skill and the ability to keep a schedule. I would recommend getting snelgroves book it has alot more methods of swarm control than just his method. I believe I have described the demarree method in the past in detail so it should be in the archives.
Thanks again, the Canadian web site was really intersting. And thanks again for the advice.