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Thread: swarming- why?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Aurora, MN, USA
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    2

    Default swarming- why?

    my bee yard has 11 hives and there have already been 3 swarms that I know of. Doesn't this seem like an awful lot for hives started this spring with 5 frame nucs? I'm a complete novice but my mentor who owns 9 of the hives has worked for 3 commercial apiaries over the years and he doesn't understand it either.

    The details:I live in northern Minnesota, 9 8 frame hives and 2 10 frame hives. No drawn comb except what was in the nuc packages. nucs installed May 1st. This is bear country so all 11 hives are in a 16x16 area surrounded with cattle panels and electric fence. The first swarm left the capture hive and went native. The 2nd and 3rd have stayed but we added a couple frames of brood to the capture hives. The swarms don't appear to be abandoning the original hives but splitting. The swarms have been spaced about a week apart with the latest swarm happening on June 28th. That one was my first solo swarm capture as my mentor is out of town. It was a wet drizzly day, no extra hive bodies so I had to construct a brood chamber body from plywood to house the 10 spare frames I had before I could even start. No protective gear except the smoker. I was expecting to take a few hits especially with the weather. waited for a lull in the rain and did the capture... managed to avoid getting stung to boot installed a top feeder with 1:1 last night to give them a boost building comb and they seem to be settling in to stay.

    It's cool that I just doubled the number of hives I own because I had the funds to buy new hives, but if this keeps up I'm going to have to let some future swarms go native for lack of hives to house them in.

    Eye_Mac

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,336

    Default Re: swarming- why?

    Welcome to Beesource!

    Bees swarm *because they can*. Swarming is how a colony reproduces. If you would like to try to reduce swarming in your hives, you may find this page from Michael Bush useful reading:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesswarmcontrol.htm
    Graham
    --- Practical reality trumps philosophy!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: swarming- why?

    May also depend on the type of queens you have some will be very swarmy, and other types not so much. When I get haves that are swarmy, I requeen. Lots of swarms usualy = no honey.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
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    2,505

    Default Re: swarming- why?

    My understanding is that bees will typically swarm when their current hive is fully filled, there is a flow on, and there are enough bees for both hives (the original and the swarm) to have a good chance of survival. Naturally, this will vary with the different genetics of the queens, but by and large and crowded hive with full storage will throw a swarm on a nectar flow. Early spring is normally when hives swarm, but allowing them to get over-stuffed at any time can result in a swarm, even a new hive from a package.

    There are a number of ways to avoid this, cheapest and easiest is to not allow them to fill up the hive with honey. Remember, a full hive is a signal to make a new one, so if you keep empty comb over the brood nest by adding boxes, adding empty frames and removing full ones, or exctracting and putting empty boxes back on, they won't get the signal that it's reproduction time.

    I would suspect you needed to add more space sooner than you did, but it's possible you just got swarmy bees.

    Peter

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    S Hadley, Massachusetts USA
    Posts
    690

    Default Re: swarming- why?

    One thing the bee books leave aout about swarming. There are tow types.......overcrowding swarms and reproduction swarms. They are different types.

    A beekeeeper has little luck keeping swarming at bay when they are in reproduction mode. They will swarm with empty comb with or without a flow.
    Pearl City Apiary Michael and Loucil Bach

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Aurora, MN, USA
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: swarming- why?

    Thank you Michael and Radar,

    I am guessing these are reproductive swarms. I'll try to capture the ones I can I'm not too crushed about the ones that escape, here in Northern MN we do not have enough wild honey bees in large part due to very harsh winters.

    Eye_Mac

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    brooklyn, ny
    Posts
    109

    Default Re: swarming- why?

    I have had 20 swarms that i know of from 38 hives
    The weather is great for nectar flow so they swarm
    All my hives are new this year on new equipment
    The only thing that makes sense is the weather that promos it
    And their undying need to swarm for the species

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,337

    Default Re: swarming- why?

    >my bee yard has 11 hives and there have already been 3 swarms that I know of. Doesn't this seem like an awful lot for hives started this spring with 5 frame nucs?

    If you fed constantly that is what I would expect to happen...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    brooklyn, ny
    Posts
    109

    Default Re: swarming- why?

    Sadly yes
    But they swarm for the species and that seams to over ride preparation
    The food is out there from all the rain
    A good year to grow your bees
    Sucks for honey production
    Maybe

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