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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,973

    Default Swarm Prevention in a TBH

    In light of the renewed "hot thread" based on Walt Wright's Checkerboarding approach to swarm control in a Lang, I find myself wondering what the top bar community has tried for swarm prevention.

    Many people refer to tbh's as "swarm machines" or similar; finding their finite size to cause even more swarming problems than are likely with a Langstroth or Warre.

    What have you done, or heard about that controls swarming in a tbh? If you do anything at all.

    Thanks,

    Adam

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Marysville, WA
    Posts
    473

    Default Re: Swarm Prevention in a TBH

    Great question!

    It's my understanding that you place empty bars throughout the brood nest something along the lines of full-full-empty-full-full-empty-full-full-empty and so on. When you get to a point where the brood nest is getting near capacity you split.
    Sounds simple but I don't have experience with it. I really am a little unsure if this is the best method or not. Last year 2 out 3 of my TBH's swarmed but I was lazy and didn't follow the suggestion above.

    I will be more diligent this year. I look forward to hear what others have to say.

    Mike
    Beekeeper? Shoot, my bees keep me!
    100 hives in Western Wa State

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,361

    Default Re: Swarm Prevention in a TBH

    Feed empty bars into the brood nest. One at a time when they are strong enough, more when they are stronger.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesswarmcontrol.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,973

    Default Re: Swarm Prevention in a TBH

    I did feed empty bars into the broodnest. In the process, I over expanded the nest and it got over-crowded by the end of June. So then I had to split it. It was a learning experience.

    I only say this as a caution to others. While adding bars or "opening the brood nest" is a viable option, one should know that there are some things to consider when doing it.

    First, you have to make sure that you don't open it up so much that the bees get spread to thin. They have to fill the openings with bees at night to keep the adjacent brood warm, while at the same time building comb on the empty bars.

    Second, you have to know when it is enough.

    How do you know when it is enough? How much should the brood nest be opened in the spring in order to avoid swarming?

    Adam

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,361

    Default Re: Swarm Prevention in a TBH

    The rule of thumb for how many or when is if you make the gap to put the bar it it should fill in a matter of a minute or two with festooning bees. If it doesn't they are strong enough yet. When they are really strong you can put several, but early in the spring you have to be careful as you say. As far as overexpanding the brood nest, I'm not sure that's possible as they will just contract the ends if they don't want it that big and they would have swarmed if they didn't have enough room to make it as big as they want. You just have to harvest more often. of course once the main flow hits, its not about brood nest so much as harvesting to make room.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Murfreesboro, TN, USA
    Posts
    318

    Default Re: Swarm Prevention in a TBH

    When you remove bars of honey to add to the storage area, do you put the empty bar back on the end or beside the brood nest?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,973

    Default Re: Swarm Prevention in a TBH

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    ... As far as overexpanding the brood nest, I'm not sure that's possible as they will just contract the ends if they don't want it that big and they would have swarmed if they didn't have enough room to make it as big as they want...
    Unless you don't let them. I kept on putting bars in as the nest grew, and then split them when it was overflowing with bees, because they started producing queen cells.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,973

    Default Re: Swarm Prevention in a TBH

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveBee View Post
    When you remove bars of honey to add to the storage area, do you put the empty bar back on the end or beside the brood nest?
    I didn't take much this year, but what I did take, I put the empty bars back in between other honeycombs. But it was too late in the year, and they didn't rebuild them, so I removed them and squeezed the existing honey combs back together when I prepared the hive for winter. I didn't go near the broodnest at all with new bars after I split the hive in June.

    Adam

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