Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Palermo, Maine, USA
    Posts
    731

    Default Now I have to worry about swarming?

    It is beginning to look like some, if not all, of my hives may make it through the winter. I am looking ahead to what spring will bring, and swarming is one thing that I anticipate dealing with. I understand that bees tend to swarm. It is their nature.

    That got me wondering how much control over it should I expect to be able to have. Right now I have 4 full hives and 5 nucs. Should I expect to have at least one of them cast off a swarm? Two? More?

    What is your experience? Do you have hives that swarm regardless of your efforts to prevent it?
    Like us on facebook This is the place to bee!
    Ralph

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,643

    Default Re: Now I have to worry about swarming?

    most methods of swarm prevention involve adding drawn comb to expand the cavity size and keep the bees from outgrowing their space.

    that's hard to do in the second year.

    at some point, adding more foundation frames doesn't work, but introducing some foundationless frames might.

    the other thing you could consider is making a cut down split. this is like an artificial swarm whereby you take the queen, a couple frames of brood, and a frame of stores and start a nuc. the timing on this is important, and it should be done just prior to your main flow which is when swarming is at it's peak.

    i learned about this on michael bush's website:

    bushfarms.com

    if you haven't already, i recommend checking it out.

    just in case, you might want to set out a swarm trap or two.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Palermo, Maine, USA
    Posts
    731

    Default Re: Now I have to worry about swarming?

    Thanks for the response squarepeg.

    What I am wondering is how successful should one expect to be in their attempts to prevent swarming.
    Like us on facebook This is the place to bee!
    Ralph

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,643

    Default Re: Now I have to worry about swarming?

    great question ralph, as there has been much spirited discussion on the matter. the simple answer is i don't know.

    i am running single deeps for brood with medium supers. this is my third full season, and i finally have enough drawn comb to follow walt wright's checkerboarding recommendations. i don't know if walt has ever stated percentage wise what can be expected.

    out of nine hives last spring, i only had two that did not swarm. the first was one that i had enough comb to checkerboard, and the second was one i performed a cut down split on.

    the remaining seven swarmed even though i had plenty of supers on them, but they were supers of foundation.

    those running double deeps tend to reverse boxes in the spring, or hang capped brood above an excluder and move empty comb back down below the excluder. michael palmer practices the former, and crazy roland practices the latter. maybe they will chime in as what their success rate is.

    i'll have a couple of traps out again this year, i caught three swarms in them last year.

    but really i'm ok with a swarm taking off into the woods. my hope is that they will make it, develop survival traits, and provide drones for my queens to mate with.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,946

    Default Re: Now I have to worry about swarming?

    Hi Ralph,

    The big swarm triggers are older queens and crowded conditions in the hive. Adding drawn comb (if you have any) to the sides of the brood nest may help. Foundation does NOT help - the bees tend to see it as a barrier. Young queens are less likely to swarm but I have seen commercially prepared nucs swarm a day after being installed. Your queens were new last year? If the bees read the books you ought to get off easy! (I've seen references to old time beekeepers who used to say that queens with one winter under their belts are the "best" queens)
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,505

    Default Re: Now I have to worry about swarming?

    Swarm prevention is a fact of life if you want honey. The bees are "interested" in making new colonies, not supplying us with honey!

    A small cluster with not much in the way of stores probably won't produce a hive that swarms, as was the case with a hive of my brother's last year. I didn't expect them to survive, they only put a small amount of honey into the second deep after struggling to grow all summer, but they took off in the spring and made four supers of comb and gave us 50 lbs of honey and made it through the winter in decent shape. No signs of swarm preparation.

    However, a colony with a goodly amount of stores like mine this year will probably start swarm preparation shortly -- lots of extra food, lots of protein, lots of bees, prime conditions for making a new hive, so the bees will start swarm cells and the queen will pack up and leave. I'm not so sure of one -- they still have the queen from last year when I caught the swarm, so I'm not expecting her to leave again, but you never know. The other swarm I caught superseded their queen, so it's more likely she will depart, I think.

    At any rate, my plan is to do cut-down splits since I want more hives anyway. I should be able to checkerboard next year, that is reputed to work well for many people. Putting an excluder on top of the brood nest with only an upper entrance just above the excluder seems to work well, at least in warmer climates and is worth a try, although in that case you must probably replace queens once in a while, they won't be able to do a normal supersedure.

    I'd not say worry, though -- I'd say make a plan to manage things and prevent swarming as much as you can. Some hives are going to no matter what you do, but you should do as much as possible to prevent it.

    The one thing I would not recommend is cutting out swarm cells. Far better to use them to make splits and requeen sluggish hives than to attempt to prevent the hive from swarming. They will only make more, and if the queen is already gone or is on the way out anyway, you can easily end up queenless. Even if there are swarm cells in the hive, you can still do a cut-down and at least keep your old queen (hive her with some old brood comb if you can, tends to make them want to stay) rather than have her and a bunch of your bees depart!

    Peter

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,336

    Default Re: Now I have to worry about swarming?

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesswarmcontrol.htm

    Yes, some swarm no matter what you do, but most don't swarm if you manage them well.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Posts
    1,689

    Default Re: Now I have to worry about swarming?

    Cut down splits are probably the easiest way for a beek without much drawn comb to keep them from swarming. You can almost bet everyone of the hives that make it through winter with some honey stores will try and swarm. Once you get some drawn combs built up you will have more options. Doing regular checks every 7-10 days during swarm season adding supers and splitting when you have to will help keep you from loosing bees to swarms.

    Make sure you have plenty of extra equipment built. I remember the first winter I came through with about 10 hives. I must of had 8-9 swarms that spring. Not counting the ones I did not see. I would of been much better off splitting before they got so far along.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads