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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Carlton,WA,USA
    Posts
    129

    Default Swarming as Success


    I've often puzzled that we beekeepers struggle so hard to prevent swarming and yet for the hive itself, swarming is success. Maybe we shouldn't be fighting it but using it. Here is a plan I am going to try this season:

    Given a hive in swarm preparation, cells started, perhaps even sealed: Set a new box behind the original with entrance facing the rear. Move the queen to the new box on one frame with QCs and brood. (Make sure and leave some QCs behind in the old box.) Fill out the box with foundation. Now shake or brush most of the bees from the original hive in front of the new entrance. Over the next 24 hours, most of the field bees will return to the original box leaving the queen attended by young bees, which have never flown before.

    Theoretically, I have now created a "post swarm" situation for both hives. The old queen in a new cavity with lots of nurse bees and lots of wax building to do. The old colony is queenless but has lots of cells started. Basically we jumped over stage two of swarming, the actual flight of the swarm.

    The new hive still has QCs. I am thinking the new colony might interpret these as supercedure cells, since most swarms replace the old queen shortly after establishment in a new location. If my suspicions are correct, both colonies will have new laying queens at the same time.

    Finally, do a newspaper combine at the honey flow. I discussed two queen hives with Sue Cobey and she made the point that a 2Q system is most successful with sister queens of the same age and pheromone levels. They will often lay side by side for many weeks.

    I do know that my hives have a way with overturning my best laid plans. They rarely think like I do. But it is worth a try.

    If this works, I can see an IPM benefit: no loss of brood laying and yet both colonies have a break in the brood cycle.
    Last edited by MethowKraig; 01-02-2012 at 11:24 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    zanesvile, ohio, usa
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: Swarming as Success

    Methow,

    Correct me please if I am wrong, but, sounds like all you are doing is a SPLIT, minus putting in frames of brood.
    I'm not judging by any means, thats what I would guess you are doing in a faster, shorter way...
    Last edited by ycitybz; 01-03-2012 at 08:13 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Carlton,WA,USA
    Posts
    129

    Default Re: Swarming as Success

    Yes a split, but I mimic an actual swarm, ending up with most of the young bees in the new colony AND a queen cell there also. Hopefully the new hive will accept the QCs as supercedure cels.

    My hope and goal is to end up with two sister queens that I can combine at the honey flow as a 2Q hive.

    I am concerned that the old hive will still have the swarming instinct. In that case, I might still have "afterswarms."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,079

    Default Re: Swarming as Success

    Kraig, what you propose is an excellent solution to redirect the energies of a swarm. You might do one better by splitting the hive with queen cells further so that each new hive has a queen cell. There will be less possible honey production, but for the following year, you will have a bunch more hives.

    Preventing swarming is most often a waste of time. Good honey production and the keeping of productive hives is achieved by redirecting or co-opting the swarming urge. One way to do that when other methods fail is what you're presenting, using the swarming urge to increase your number of hives after the bees have already initiated the final swarming countdown by making swarm cells.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,202

    Default Re: Swarming as Success

    Kraig, if your queen is marked it shouldn't be too hard to find her. If you can't find her, split into more than two boxes and you'll find her by a process of elimination. What you are proposing is a method very similar to one outlined in "Teach yourself Beekeeping" which, incidentally, has one of the best explanations of the components of a swarm I've read. Timing is everything, a manipulation of this kind will keep bees at home and not bothering the neighbors.

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