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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Tuscaloosa, AL
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    72

    Default Preventing a swarm for future reference.

    So I have seen where alot of newbies like myself have suffered swarms this year, I do a good bit of reading and knew I was on the verge of it when it happened to one of my hive this year. What I want to ask is, by the time you see capped queen cells, I assume that the old queen starts to slim down to fly off with the swarm and stopps laying eggs. Now, if someone by this point just went in and cut off the capped swarm cells, are you really stopping the notion to swarm since they have already geared up to do it, and if they did just swarm as intended you would be left queenless with no new eggs and whatever uncapped and capped larvea. I am just wanting feedback for future reference. I know now that I should have taken this strong hive and did a split with some of the queen cells and made new hives and checkerboared new foundation in, but lesson learned.

    Thanks,

    clark

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
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    2,172

    Default Re: Preventing a swarm for future reference.

    Clark, it is just as you said. However, the newb is in a catch 22 situation. Congestion in the broodnest is reduced by adding empty overhead comb - but you're new so you have none and by the time you have worked it out they have gone. It gets easier in the years to come, especially if you have spare hives to fill.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,380

    Default Re: Preventing a swarm for future reference.

    Usually by the time you see capped swarm cells it's very, very difficult to stop them from swarming. Some type of intervention or manipulation should have been done a few weeks prior. I never cut out swarm cells as it almost always ends up being a loosing battle. The best thing to do at that point is to do a split, taking the queen from the original hive, and let them raise a new queen from the swarm cells.
    To everything there is a season....

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Arlee MT USA
    Posts
    548

    Default Re: Preventing a swarm for future reference.

    Just how effective are splits at preventing swarms?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Tuscaloosa, AL
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    72

    Default Re: Preventing a swarm for future reference.

    I've been told and read that if done in enough time before the bees really start to feel crowded that it is very effective.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    1,580

    Default Re: Preventing a swarm for future reference.

    Yes, as soon as the queen cells are capped they are swarming already. There is a post here about this issue. We tried to help him but too late
    by the time he tried to contain the old queen with a queen excluder. I would think the old queen is skinny enough to be able to squeeze herself out. Of course, the virgin can too.
    I would say for future references, look at how many bees you have to say how crowded they are inside. The key indicators of pre-swarming are: honey bound with back filling of nectar/pollen, viable queen cells, overcrowding inside the hive, and plenty of nectar and pollen for foods.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Tuscaloosa, AL
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    Default Re: Preventing a swarm for future reference.

    Beepro you and others have been a great help, I appreciate it.
    Quote Originally Posted by beepro View Post
    Yes, as soon as the queen cells are capped they are swarming already. There is a post here about this issue. We tried to help him but too late
    by the time he tried to contain the old queen with a queen excluder. I would think the old queen is skinny enough to be able to squeeze herself out. Of course, the virgin can too.
    I would say for future references, look at how many bees you have to say how crowded they are inside. The key indicators of pre-swarming are: honey bound with back filling of nectar/pollen, viable queen cells, overcrowding inside the hive, and plenty of nectar and pollen for foods.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,456

    Default Re: Preventing a swarm for future reference.

    As a general rule, you must manage your bees to minimize swarming. I don't say eliminate because I suspect no matter what you do occasionally they will leave anyway. Minimizing swarming is important if you want anything decent for a honey crop since half you hive leaving during prime nectar season means much less honey stored.

    There are a number of ways to minimize swarming. However, take a look at Walt Wright's articles on nectar management in the resources section here on BeeSource. I found them to be quite interesting, and the gist of what he says is that bees swarm when three conditions are met:

    There is a solid band of capped honey over the brood nest of some minimum size -- at least several inches thick.

    There is so much brood there is no room for the queen to lay more eggs

    There is a strong nectar flow.

    When these conditions are met, usually in the spring, but occasionally at other times (when a hive is fed too much, for instance) the hive will usually also be full of bees. The bees will start to fill brood cells with nectar as the brood emerges rather than cleaning the cells for the queen to lay in, they will build swarm cells all over the hive, but mostly on the bottom frames, the queen will lay in the new queen cells, and the bees will raise a crop of new queens, up to 20 of them.

    Then, when the queen cells are capped, the old queen and about half the bees in the hive will swarm to establish a new hive somewhere else. The new queens emerge, and while the first one out usually kills the rest, during spring swarm season, it's possible for multiple virgin queens to be in the hive, up to 8 or more in some cases. One of these queens usually mates and returns to the hive and starts laying again, but a hive can issue several to many "afterswarms" with a virgin queen and a fairly small cluster of bees. If this happens several times, the original hive can become so depleted of bees the new queen cannot establish adequate brood to keep it going and it will dwindle away.

    To prevent swarming, you can

    Reverse boxes in the spring if you have multiple brood boxes

    Checkerboard empty drawn frames with honey filled frames over the brood nest

    Keep adding empty drawn frames to the brood nest so the queen never runs out of space to lay

    Do splits before or after queen cells appear -- if done early, when drones first start flying, a small split taking the old queen will usually prevent swarming of the parent hive and also increase the honey produced since during the main flow there will be no brood to speak of.

    Keep the brood nest under a queen excluder with an upper entrance above the excluder and no lower entrance.

    I am sure there are other things beekeepers do, and you can try any of these to see what works best for you. If you want more bees, "cut-down" splits where you remove the queen, a couple frames of capped brood, and a frame of stores to a nucleus box will give you a brood break in the old hive while they raise a new queen and simulate a swarm, giving you a strong hive with a large honey crop and a new hive that will build up quickly since it has plenty of bees and a laying queen. If you don't want honey as much as you want bees, you can do a "walk-away" split by evenly dividing the brood, stores, and empty frames between two new hives, letting the one without a queen start a new one.

    Bottom line is that you HAVE to do something to prevent swarms, or half your bees depart regular as clockwork!

    Peter

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Manning, SC
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    1,920

    Default Re: Preventing a swarm for future reference.

    Now that you've done all the correct chores to prevent swarming, you are running an open brood nest (no queen excluder) & the time has come to place supers on the hives. You are certainly not going to be pulling supers off every week to check the brood nest for congestion or swarm cells. So what do you look for outside the hive to give you an indication of what's going on inside?
    http://OxaVap.com
    Your source for Oxalic Acid Vaporizers

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    Default Re: Preventing a swarm for future reference.

    Removing cells every 7-10 days along with supplying an adequate amount of comb is a tried and true way to get a big honey crop out of a strong hive. You have to stay on schedule, and you have to find every single cell. Both are challenging. But people who are good at it can get up to 200 lbs of honey per hive - even in TNs short honey season.
    since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    660

    Default Re: Preventing a swarm for future reference.

    For factors contributing to swarms, have a look at: http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...arm-Prevention

    If you don't have drawn comb, try "Opening the sides" of the broodnest: http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...ning-the-sides

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    4,237

    Default Re: Preventing a swarm for future reference.

    excellent post peter.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Tuscaloosa, AL
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    Default Re: Preventing a swarm for future reference.

    snl, I'm new to this, what would you be looking for once honey supers are on and like you said its much more difficult to take tem off for frequent inspections. Thank you for any advice.
    Clark
    Quote Originally Posted by snl View Post
    Now that you've done all the correct chores to prevent swarming, you are running an open brood nest (no queen excluder) & the time has come to place supers on the hives. You are certainly not going to be pulling supers off every week to check the brood nest for congestion or swarm cells. So what do you look for outside the hive to give you an indication of what's going on inside?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    3,886

    Default Re: Preventing a swarm for future reference.

    Quote Originally Posted by snl View Post
    & the time has come to place supers on the hives. You are certainly not going to be pulling supers off every week to check the brood nest for congestion or swarm cells.
    Actually, some people do exactly that - to a point. Around here it is about the middle/end of May when two things happen - 1) the swarming impulse subsides somewhat 2) the main flows are over, and your honey crop is mostly made.
    since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,294

    Default Re: Preventing a swarm for future reference.

    >What I want to ask is, by the time you see capped queen cells...

    By the time you see capped cells, they have usually already swarmed.

    Also keep in mind that swarm cells are not all the same age. There may be capped cells and you just found one that is still open...

    I split them when I find cells with larvae in them.

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

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