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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    660

    Default Swarming - Reaction to conditions or planned?

    In another thread it has been debated that Swarming is a planned activity verses a reaction to the local conditions.

    I would say it is a reaction to the conditions, such as:


    Excess incoming nectar
    |
    Insufficient overhead storage space AND/OR a band of capped honey above the brood nest
    |
    ----- Causes backfilling of the brood nest with nectar
    |
    ----- Causes reduction of space for the queen to lay, so ovaries shrink
    |
    ----- Causes less open/uncapped brood
    |
    ----- Causes excess Nurse bees, unable to feed sufficent brood
    |
    ----- Causes extra feeding of larvae
    |
    ----- Causes Queen cells
    |
    ----- Causes house bees to be used as nectar storage tanks
    |
    ----- Causes wax makers to develop


    - Swarming can be stopped by giving a few frames of uncapped brood, early in the process.

    - Getting wax makers to build comb before swarm season starts and keeping them building wax helps to use up excess nectar and allow the queen to keep laying.

    - Obviously, ensuring there is plenty of empty comb to fill with nectar, also helps to stop the brood nest from getting filled with nectar in the first place.

    The amount of space needed to rippen nectar is often underestimated by the novice beekeeper. The bees will try to spread it out as thin as possible to gain the highest amount of surface area.

    Temperature is also a factor to consider. It has to be warm enough.

    Comments?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    St. Petersburg, fl, USA
    Posts
    186

    Default Re: Swarming - Reaction to conditions or planned?

    Swarm prevention is always on our mind here in Florida. I think I have found swarms every month of the year except January and February. It only takes a little delay in hive inspection schedules to get a swarm started. We always try to have at least two empty deep frames in the brood box so the queen is never without space and we add another super by the time the first one is 80% built out. Even then we have had swarms. Usually because we were a week late in working our hives. Once a queen begins to thin down and stop laying in preparation for a swarm I have not found any thing fool proof to reverse the situation. Keeping your hive with first year queens, and keeping lots of space seems the best preventative. Once a swarm is imminent the best thing we have found is to make a nuc with the old queen and a couple of frames of brood and let the original hive make a new queen. Then either you can leave it at two hives or kill one of the queens and recombine the hives (use the newspaper method).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,413

    Default Re: Swarming - Reaction to conditions or planned?

    here is a past thread which touched on that question:

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...warming-a-Goal
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    660

    Default Re: Swarming - Reaction to conditions or planned?

    Thanks Squarepeg, thought I hadn't seen that. Then realised you said a PAST thread.

    Reading that I might add: Animals in general do not set out to have babies as a goal. Their hormones take over, one thing leads to another. Oh... We're having a baby? How did that happen??

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    adair county, kentucky, usa
    Posts
    461

    Default Re: Swarming - Reaction to conditions or planned?

    I would say, it is both. I think the things you mention have a definite effect on causing bees to swarm, but I also think it is planned (or instinctive) to swarm as it is their way of spreading their species.

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