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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Hampstead, NC USA
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    609

    Default Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    I've read many places that most swarming occurs, "prior to the main flow".
    What is the popular opinion here?
    I've had record swarm collections so far but I am worried about my honey production.
    Also wondering if others have had more, fewer or the same swarming this year?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Mammoth Cave, KY
    Posts
    151

    Default Re: Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    More than ever before here, 12 of 25 in the month of April. Great build up with tons of bees this spring. Main flow with tulip poplar about ten days away in my area.
    Poppy's Bees, Queens, and Honey
    Mammoth Cave, KY

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Posts
    1,747

    Default Re: Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    Yes, it is typically right before your main flow or just after it starts. Once the flow really gets going the bees will normally be pasted wanting to swarm. That's what I've noticed anyway.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Big Stone Gap, VA
    Posts
    992

    Default Re: Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    Typically, our swarm season starts around May 1. This year, to my knowledge, there has not been one swarm in our county. We had a very bad year for bees last year.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Hampstead, NC USA
    Posts
    609

    Default Re: Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    How does a poll on this site work? I feel like it would be interesting to ses how other areas are doing.
    I have a fellow keeper that is in my area and has had his three hives swarm at least 5-6 times. He has decided to do what I am trying which is combining swarms in an attempt to get a lot of foravers into hives with little brood in an attempt to get surplus honey.
    He has been beekeeping for over 20 years and has never seen swarms lkke this. He just decided tbis year to go from 9 hives to 3 dhe to his age. He normally gets 500-600 lbs of honey off 9 hives and is nearly convinved he will get no surplus honey this year due to swarms.
    I know it is a risk but I've also decided to remove the queen from two of my stronger hives to see if this helps put more bees into forage mode. The way I look at it I can't lose much. I'll have the queens in nucs for reintroduction if need be in a month.
    Here in S. E. NC our main flow started about a week ago in earnest. Now se have Holly & Gallberry going hard witb Tulip Poplar just starting in certain sunny spots. Our flow is only about 6 weeks total so I am trying new things as the swarms have left me with a lot of nucs/new hives but also depleated colonies I was thinking were going to give me a lot of honey.
    Maybe it will all work out for the best IF I mame a fee correct moves/adaptations.
    Thanks
    Howard

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    Well when my largest hives started swarm preparation about 2 weeks ago I removed the queens and about 4 to 6 frames of brood and made nuc's from them. Over the last 5 days with queen cells emerging from the strong hives I have captured 10 swarms, some hives casting off more than 1 swarm. All with virgin queens, so they dont fly far from the hive and settle quite close to the ground and so I have ended up with about 18 nuc's and 10 swarms from about 12 strong hives so boxes and frames are in demand at the moment. So swarming is really happening in this neck of the woods. Gilbert Doolittle used to say that the bees would get the swarming fever, when one started the other hives would want to get in on the action
    Johno

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Summerfield, NC
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    I'm near the Greensboro area. Only one of our hives has swarmed, but luckily they rehoused themselves in a nearby hive that died out over the winter, or some other swarm moved in. Most of the hives are absolutely booming, with an average of three shallow supers nearly full on each hive.

    I've been trying to get some larva to graft a few queens, but each hive has only capped brood. I'm predicting that when the rain clears up later this week, I'm going to be very busy chasing swarms, although I've taken some brood frames and moved them around to boost population in some of the weaker hives. I think uncooperative weather has kept the swarms down for us; we've usually caught eight or ten of our own by now, plus had a dozen or so calls from other people.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Big Stone Gap, VA
    Posts
    992

    Default Re: Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    Quote Originally Posted by millerdrr View Post
    Most of the hives are absolutely booming, with an average of three shallow supers nearly full on each hive.
    Nice!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Summerfield, NC
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    Quote Originally Posted by tsmullins View Post
    Nice!
    You bet! It's almost a full month early for us.

    The weather has messed with my queen-rearing plans, but the bumper crop in honey is easing my disappointment, if they can fill them up again for me before the flow ends in June.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,850

    Default Re: Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    This time last year I was on my 4th or 5th swarm call. I haven't had one yet this year so far.

    The colonies of mine that I fed patties to started swarm preparations at first dandelion bloom (around March 20th). Usually swarms issue around April 1. Some of the colonies that I didn't feed in late winter have just started swarm preparations.

    Our main honey flow occurs around April 25, lasting about 4 weeks. It hasn't started here yet. I'm hoping when it does, it still goes for 4 weeks, rather than starting two weeks late and only lasting 2 weeks. We'll see.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Hampstead, NC USA
    Posts
    609

    Default Re: Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    One of the problems with trying to house all these swarms is equipment. I needed about 50 frames a month ago so I ordered 100 and these are already assembled and out. I am just going to combine any additional swarms.
    I don't want more hives and the swarm sizes are smaller now with many virgin queens so I'd rather just put these bees out foraging.
    Anyone know if any suppliers are offering free shipping?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,850

    Default Re: Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    Lol, I wish I had that problem Challenger. If you weren't three hours away, I'd offer to take those smaller swarms off your hands.

    Mann Lake always offers free shipping on orders over $100.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,767

    Default Re: Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    To the best of my knowledge we've had a very slow swarm season this year. Had a few in mid-April, but nothing over the past couple of weeks. The weather this year has been very strange.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,149

    Default Re: Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    There have been a lot of swarms in my area, but so far i have been able to prevent my hives from swarming by cutting down cells every 7-10 days. The poplar bloom started last week - now locust is in full bloom - if i can keep them together for 2 more inspections the honey crop should be made.

    I found the first swarm cells about 3 weeks ago - if i rem correctly.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Hampstead, NC USA
    Posts
    609

    Default Re: Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    Lol, I wish I had that problem Challenger. If you weren't three hours away, I'd offer to take those smaller swarms off your hands.

    Mann Lake always offers free shipping on orders over $100.
    Thanks-I googled free shipping bee equipment this AM & I placed an order with Mann Lake. I hope this lasts so I can get jars from them. Shipping costs are a rip off IMO.

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post
    There have been a lot of swarms in my area, but so far i have been able to prevent my hives from swarming by cutting down cells every 7-10 days. The poplar bloom started last week - now locust is in full bloom - if i can keep them together for 2 more inspections the honey crop should be made.

    I found the first swarm cells about 3 weeks ago - if i rem correctly.
    I have made attempts to cut out swarm cells every week. I read about this online from Jones County Beekeepers in FLA. It didn't work out for me. I found going into packed hives every week was beyond my patience level. If one small queen cell is missed they are off. I also had a fellow beekeeper tell me he has lost swarms while using this technique???
    It seems much easier to just make a small nuc with the queen from a hive that is preparing to swarm? It isn't fool proof though-I did this and a hive still swarmed. I took the queen and also cut out cells but they made more queen cells and swarmed.
    I am in zone 8-9 border and our flow is at least two weeks before yours so I am afraid we only have 3-4 weeks left. I checked hives today and the hives that I thought would really produce have nearly empty supers. There are tons of bees going in & out as if they would need a super every 5-6 days but so far not good.
    Next week I am going to take a lot of bees from several nucs and put them to work in other hives. I was planning on combining after the flow anyway using the best queens from swarm cells so it wont hurt my expected hive number growth.
    Good luck.
    Howard

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,149

    Default Re: Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    Quote Originally Posted by challenger View Post
    I have made attempts to cut out swarm cells every week. I read about this online from Jones County Beekeepers in FLA. It didn't work out for me. I found going into packed hives every week was beyond my patience level. If one small queen cell is missed they are off. I also had a fellow beekeeper tell me he has lost swarms while using this technique???
    It's certainly a lot of work for a few weeks. I suspect that the most likely reason when it doesn't work is that a cell was missed. You have to focus and pay attention, and shake bees off of likely frames. But here is a tip for inspecting any hive that is big and packed with bees - unstack the hive before you start and inspect beginning at the bottom box - that way you don't smoke the bees down as you go and end up trying to go through the bottom box with all of the bees in them. I suspect that it is also less stressful to the bees.

    And before anyone says this is a good way to end up with a hopelessly queenless hive - which may be true - I start some nucs with swarm cells so that if that happens I have some spares.
    Last edited by David LaFerney; 05-06-2013 at 06:24 PM.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Hampstead, NC USA
    Posts
    609

    Default Re: Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    I know I've killed many a queen cell by shaking the frame. If the cell is capped but still 2-3 days from hatching the pupa is easily killed by bumping against the inside of the cell.
    I don't know if the dead queens inside the cell would put out a signal to the workers. In my case the cells were not cleaned out but the queens were dead inside the cells. I also don't know if the dead queens inside the cells would prevent swarming if they were the only queen cells left in the hive. In my specific case I didn't care about the cells because I was making a nuc and I was using two frames with double digit number of queen cells. I knew some were viable and the nuc has a new queen laying. I removed the dead swarm cells so they don' ttry to reuse them.
    Howard

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,355

    Default Re: Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    millerdrr,
    Would like to know what you did to get supers filling prior to "main flow." It is a regular thing when hives are checkerboarded, but most folks don't see it. You must have done something to open up the overhead capped honey. No??

    Others,
    You guys are on the right track. Adding strength works. You might be surprised how well it works and not keep up with super support. When we combined two nominal colonies just to see what would happen, with only a full super of capped honey for isolation of the 2 queens, we were not prepared for the effects. One swarmed and the other two made 15 and 16 supers, each. The one that swarmed had a full super of capped honey at about the 6 foot level. The other two got out of convenient supering range and we needed a step ladder. Even more remarkable, they were filling and capping a shallow super every 4 days. Although my objective was maximizing honey production, decided that we had overshot the limit of diminishing returns. In that season, each colony would likely hve made 6 to 8 supers if separated. So I didn't gain much for the extra work.

    You won't see those kind of results by adding to a swarmed colony. They have already gone through broodnest reduction by backfilling, and at main flow broodnest reduction continues. But it will definately help to add strength in bee numbers.

    Walt

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,850

    Default Re: Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    Quote Originally Posted by challenger View Post
    I have made attempts to cut out swarm cells every week.
    I have never found this to be a successful management technique. When you find queen cups with eggs in them (arguably queen cells at that point), cutting out the cup or smashing the egg will sometimes deter them from swarming. Most of the time they just rebuild, meaning you have to be back in there in 7 days. That's assuming that you don't miss one, which in a heavily populated hive is a very common occurrence. I have never successfully cut out queen cells that were late in development (5-10 days) and prevented hives from swarming all together, just delaying it at best (which is sometimes the goal around a flow). But the time involved in doing that isn't worth the rewards, considering that it could take me several hours to check every frame of a double deep (after taking the supers off) on a dozen hives. That, of course, is not confusing swarm cells with supercedure cells. Sometimes you'll smash a cell or two, thinking you were preventing swarming, but when you inspect the rest of the hive you find nothing. Uh oh. You would have been better off letting them replace their queen than having a failing queen.

    Now, I lift up the top deep and check the bottoms of the frames for queen cells. If I find one (or a cup with an egg in it), I consider it a loss, and split it up. If not, I leave them alone. If I can't tell, I'll pull a few frames and see for sure. When I split it up, the queen goes in a new location. Then, I only leave about 4 swarm cells or so behind. I then deprive the original hive of either most/all of it's open brood, or all of it's foraging force (and putting a smaller hive in it's place). If it's depriving the original hive of brood, I make nucs with them, leaving a few queen cells in each nuc. Usually 2-4 frames of brood each, depending on the time of year.

    You'll likely lose the honey from that hive, but you'll get plenty of nucs instead and it doesn't involve that much work/effort. It sure beats spending hours on end in the hive, diligently searching for queen cells, only to miss one and lose the honey crop AND the swarm AND not have any nucs from it.

    Swarm prevention is really done before swarm season anyway, either with smaller nucing, checkerboarding, or whatever your method is. Swarm prevention isn't done in the swarm season. You're too late then.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Hampstead, NC USA
    Posts
    609

    Default Re: Swarm season is "prior to main flow"???

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    I have never found this to be a successful management technique. When you find queen cups with eggs in them (arguably queen cells at that point), cutting out the cup or smashing the egg will sometimes deter them from swarming. Most of the time they just rebuild, meaning you have to be back in there in 7 days. That's assuming that you don't miss one, which in a heavily populated hive is a very common occurrence. I have never successfully cut out queen cells that were late in development (5-10 days) and prevented hives from swarming all together, just delaying it at best (which is sometimes the goal around a flow). But the time involved in doing that isn't worth the rewards, considering that it could take me several hours to check every frame of a double deep (after taking the supers off) on a dozen hives. That, of course, is not confusing swarm cells with supercedure cells. Sometimes you'll smash a cell or two, thinking you were preventing swarming, but when you inspect the rest of the hive you find nothing. Uh oh. You would have been better off letting them replace their queen than having a failing queen.

    Now, I lift up the top deep and check the bottoms of the frames for queen cells. If I find one (or a cup with an egg in it), I consider it a loss, and split it up. If not, I leave them alone. If I can't tell, I'll pull a few frames and see for sure. When I split it up, the queen goes in a new location. Then, I only leave about 4 swarm cells or so behind. I then deprive the original hive of either most/all of it's open brood, or all of it's foraging force (and putting a smaller hive in it's place). If it's depriving the original hive of brood, I make nucs with them, leaving a few queen cells in each nuc. Usually 2-4 frames of brood each, depending on the time of year.

    You'll likely lose the honey from that hive, but you'll get plenty of nucs instead and it doesn't involve that much work/effort. It sure beats spending hours on end in the hive, diligently searching for queen cells, only to miss one and lose the honey crop AND the swarm AND not have any nucs from it.

    Swarm prevention is really done before swarm season anyway, either with smaller nucing, checkerboarding, or whatever your method is. Swarm prevention isn't done in the swarm season. You're too late then.
    Swarm reduction seems like a lofty goal at this point. Swarm prevention??? I give up.
    Call me the combining advocate and nuc maker.
    I am even thinking of selling some nucs if I dont combine them with queenless colonies . As I mentioned I removed the queens from a couple of hives and have found new but unmated queens. If they prove out they will stay. Nucs here are going for $150.00-5 frames!

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