What's So Bad About Swarming?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Cheboygan, Michigan,USA
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    86

    Default What's So Bad About Swarming?

    I can understand the commercial "big guys" doing bees/honey for a living trying to get max production, but I've just have one hive for local pollenating and maybe some honey for myself and a couple friends. I provide lots of room for my bees so if they swarm, its their decision. As long as they leave me with a crew and enough honey to keep going through the winter, its okay by me. Is this bad thinking/rationale?

    Fog

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Pigeon Falls, WI
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    Default Re: What's So Bad About Swarming?

    When a hive swarms there is not a guarantee that they will become queen right again. Sometimes when the colony swarms they do it more than once leaving you with a weak colony. Swarms don't always choose to live in a tree and some move into houses that have occupants(people). Letting them swarm(purposely) is poor management
    Leer Family Honey Farm-Shannon Leer

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Hamburg, NY 14075
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    69

    Default Re: What's So Bad About Swarming?

    I'm with you Fogducker! My sediments exactly!Maybee if we let more swarm the feral population will become more established. As Mike Bush has said let them do what comes natural!
    Pete

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Keene, NH, USA
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    254

    Default Re: What's So Bad About Swarming?

    Well, I agree with Beeslave. How nice it would be if we could just let the bees swarm if they decide to. If I did that and they went to a neighbor's property I'd be risking my 9 hive apiary due to poor management. I am a huge follower of Michael (all mediums, small cell, no treat etc) but I live in an area where a swarm may end up at a neighbor's house and do not want the hassle it would cause. If you manage your bees properly, they will not want to swarm and you still allow them to create additional hives.

    If I had only 1 hive I would be concerned about making sure they do not swarm or you may end up with none.
    11 yrs, TF 6 yrs, moved to OAV in 2014, MAQS 2016. 6 hives and 5 nucs Zone 4B
    www.nhbees.wordpress.com

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Lee\'s Summit, MO
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    2,514

    Default Re: What's So Bad About Swarming?

    I'd love to be able to set up some swarm traps next to those who see nothing wrong with swarming. It's your choice, no problem as long as it doesn't bother the neighbors. However, imagine a swarm moving into your nieghbors yard. You think they are going to be pleased? I'm a beekeeper and that noise even makes me nervous. Imagine if they are afraid of bees, or are alergic, or think they are alergic, or they have a family get together going on, they move into their house or barn, etc... Eventually you're going to have one of any of these problems if you've got neighbors. It's got the strong potential of straining the relationship at the least.

    Personally, I try to do everything I can within reason to avoid my hives swarming with plenty of room and homegrown queens in the Fall. If they swarm, kiss the honey production goodbye as they fly away. I still have swarms on occasion and I set up traps to get them in case I'm not there. Even then, they may not move into my traps but I've done all I could to avoid it.
    Ninja, is not in the dictionary. Well played Ninja's, well played...

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Madison County, Alabama
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    486

    Default Re: What's So Bad About Swarming?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eyeshooter View Post
    If you manage your bees properly, they will not want to swarm and you still allow them to create additional hives.
    Without trying to pick your words apart, I'm not sure I'd agree with that statement. It implies that swarming depends on your management. Bees will do whatever bees do despite your best management, sometimes.

    I tell my new beekeeping students (especially those with teenage daughters) managing your bees not to swarm is like managing your teenagers when they go out on a date. You try your best as parents, but sometimes raging hormones have other plans. The hive has its own "hormones," and swarming is its way of expressing multiplication.
    "...the most populous colonies ...are provided by queens ...in the year following their birth." Brother Adam

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Beaaverton,oregon,usa
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    40

    Default Re: What's So Bad About Swarming?

    This is an interesting question. Kind of like the chicken and the egg.
    Which came first? The swarm or the hive. I live outside of the urban growth boundary , so swarm catching is like fishing. I caught 1, and my neighbor (about 2mi away) has caught 8. I was feeling the pressure of getting skunked
    untill last sat.
    On the other side of the coin, if you live in a high density area where your neighbors don't know the difference between yellow jackets and honey bees
    it could spell trouble. Good for Ortho spray foam {capeable of shooting 20},
    bad for the bees.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Beaaverton,oregon,usa
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: What's So Bad About Swarming?

    This is an interesting question. Kind of like the chicken and the egg.
    Which came first? The swarm or the hive. I live outside of the urban growth boundary , so swarm catching is like fishing. I caught 1, and my neighbor (about 2mi away) has caught 8. I was feeling the pressure of getting skunked
    untill last sat.
    On the other side of the coin, if you live in a high density area where your neighbors don't know the difference between yellow jackets and honey bees
    it could spell trouble. Good for Ortho spray foam {capeable of shooting 20},
    bad for the bees.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Falls Church, VA
    Posts
    24

    Default Re: What's So Bad About Swarming?

    Hi All, (1 st post)
    I just started beekeeping this spring with two pkgs of Italians from GA, which I installed 4/17/2010. I have 2 hives in my yard located in an older mature landscaped suburban neighborhood in Falls Church VA (DC suburb). We have large tulip poplars a variety of flowers and vegetables. There is a birdbath and a water fountain in the garden. All new woodenware - hive bodies are 8 frame mediums and screened bottom boards. Hive #1 is robust now with 4 supers ( queen excluder between 3 and 4). Hive #2 is coming along it has 3 supers - not until about a month in did I see that it had 2 marked queens. A few days later I rechecked and it had only one so I am assuming one was killed off. Both hives have hive top feeders and I am still feeding the girls as recommended by instructor and mentor. Did IPM mite checks 5/15 and 6/15 NO mites - yeah!

    Hives are raised on cinder blocks in the garden about a foot from each other facing south. This time of the year get sun from about 10 AM - 4:30PM. When it is really hot and humid I prop up the telescoping cover a little to increase ventilation. I would like to keep to just the current 2 hives but concerned(scared) about swarming and would like to know all that I can to prevent it or at best discourage it. Advice welcome.

    Thanks for "hearing" me out !

    Best,
    Tim

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Madison County, Alabama
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    486

    Default Re: What's So Bad About Swarming?

    Quote Originally Posted by TripleH View Post
    I would like to keep to just the current 2 hives but concerned(scared) about swarming and would like to know all that I can to prevent it or at best discourage it.
    Tim, welcome! Count your many blessings, as a member of BANV you are in one of the best teaching communities among smart beekeepers I know. Pat/Jim Haskell, Brenda Keissling, and many others to name a few.

    I tell my new students who get bees, to be prepared to have many more hives in the future. They multiply like rabbits! You can try to manage for swarming but (as they said in Jurrasic Park), nature will find a way to procreate, and swarming is hive procreation.

    The other factor is, you say you want to keep just 2 hives, but when you get really bitten by the bee fever, you won't ever feel like you've gotten enough hives!
    "...the most populous colonies ...are provided by queens ...in the year following their birth." Brother Adam

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Louisville Kentucky USA
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    459

    Default Re: What's So Bad About Swarming?

    I think everybody should let their hives swarm whenever they please,especially you guys in the Louisville Kentucky area!
    If they happen to occupy someones house,they can just call me and I will come and get them.Thanks in advance for your cooperation.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    OKC, OK USA
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    2,940

    Default Re: What's So Bad About Swarming?

    Well my take on it is this, I do all I can to discourage swarming for all the reasons given but when one does and I can't get it back, I sit back and try to enjoy this one of the many wonders of the honeybee (while trying not to worry about the neighbors shed or house or grill that they decided to take up residence in)....I call it bitter-sweet.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Columbia county, New York, USA
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    1,526

    Default Re: What's So Bad About Swarming?

    If i lived out in the country I would let my hives swarm and I'd have enough hives to still get some honey for myself and friends. I believe swarming is the normal and healthy way for bees to multiply in a natural setting.
    But I live on the edge of my village boundaries on a 1/3 acre with neighbors on all sides, and technically I don't think the zoning allows for 'livestock'. I know they have forced another villager to get rid of his 4 female chickens, citing the same 'no livestock' law, even though he claimed they were pets. I'm keeping my hives in back of the garden, beekeeping sort of 'under the radar'. One trusted neighbor knows about them.
    The zoning board would very likely ask me to remove my hives if some neighbor complained about a swarm in their yard. So, I'm trying to avoid trouble and will do all I can to keep down possible swarms.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    McGraw,NY,USA
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    585

    Default Re: What's So Bad About Swarming?

    Tim ...if you want to maintain just two hives at your location, ya might want to consider
    assuming they are very strong early in the year, taking a nuc from the strong hives and replacing the frames with drawn comb. I am not sure off the yearly cycles in your area so timing is important. Sell the nuc`s or set up an out yard. I also supered early and planned on replaceing some of my winter DO`s with nucs . At the time I inspected them very were just too strong not to swarm. Consider it and discuss it with some of the local beeks as to the timing...Rick
    Turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones

  16. #15
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Phila, PA
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    62

    Default Re: What's So Bad About Swarming?

    Here is a second year beekeeper's (me) personal story on swarming. Last year I was OK with the idea. Didn't try to make it happen, but felt good about increasing the feral population and didn't mind when they swarmed. I was pumped to have a "local" queen and was sure she'd do better through the winter than hive 2's package queen. Sure enough, she did. Hive 2 died out come Feb and the local gal made it. Only problem was she never startred laying again and that hive sputtered out 8 weeks later without any new bees.

    Again, I'm all for adding to the feral pop, but when your bird in the hand leaves (your well-mated, well-laying queen), your two in the bush (virgin left behind) may turn into a bum. I still treat swarming with ambivalence like most of us probably do.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Augusta County, Virginia USA
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    130

    Default Re: What's So Bad About Swarming?

    Here is a third year beekeeper's experience. Started with one nuc in the Spring of 2008. It was very strong going into winter. In early May of 2009 it swarmed. I caught the swarm. Did not requeen either hive. Got about equal amounts of honey from each hive to total 82 pounds of honey -- more than enough for family and friends. And there was honey in both hives in the Spring.

    I know I am not the average beekeeper because I want the bees mostly for bees in the gardens and to help keep honeybees in circulation rather than to maximize a honey yield. Even if I had not caught the swarm, I would have been satisfied with one half as much honey; i.e. the amount I got from the original hive, which by the way is super strong again this year but has not swarmed. I do not want more than 3 hives so I have no interest in splitting hives. I live in the country on 40 acres so do not have to worry about the neighbors. For me swarming is not a big issue -- if I can catch the swarm I will but if not, that's okay. Just my take on it but do want to state that swarming does not necessarily leave you with out honey the year of the swarm.

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Keene, NH, USA
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    254

    Default Re: What's So Bad About Swarming?

    Quote Originally Posted by fatscher View Post
    Without trying to pick your words apart, I'm not sure I'd agree with that statement. It implies that swarming depends on your management. Bees will do whatever bees do despite your best management, sometimes..
    I believe you understood the intent of my words. Naturally, these are insects and you cannot make them not do something if they truly get it in their heads to do it. My meaning was proper management will help reduce the chance of swarming and still allow them to multiply within your apiary. Nothing in beekeeping is foolproof. Just ask my bees!
    11 yrs, TF 6 yrs, moved to OAV in 2014, MAQS 2016. 6 hives and 5 nucs Zone 4B
    www.nhbees.wordpress.com

  19. #18
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    Sep 2008
    Location
    Corryton, Tennessee, USA
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    574

    Default Re: What's So Bad About Swarming?

    My neighbors have been pretty good to me, so I'll be pretty good to them and keep my bees from swarming. If one part of that equation changes, then so will the other part.

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    4,218

    Default Re: What's So Bad About Swarming?

    We have all reason to believe that proper management reduces swarming to an insignificant level. There is an economic threshold, but I would rather push the bees by over dividing, than loose a significant portion to swarms. Sure it costs more in labor, but in a commercial setting, a hive that swarms will make you very little honey.

    As far as swarms contributing to the feral population, I must disagree, If anything, you are polluting the feral gene pool with commercial genes, and making the chances of feral survival decrease. Please, keep your domestic bees under control. We need the strong feral hives as a reserve of genetic material.

    Roland Diehnelt
    Linden Apiary, Est. 1852

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Sale Creek, Tn. USA
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    173

    Default Re: What's So Bad About Swarming?

    TripleH, you were wise to avoid the deep supers. It is a real advantage to have ALL interchangible frames.
    I like my hives more spread-out ( about 10 feet apart ). Space is not a problem for me.
    Mine are in a lightly wooded area so they get light shade most of the day. Many beeks don't have a choice.
    You need 3 mediums for a brood nest. A big brood nest lets your queen reach her full potential. You will have as much or more than 2 deeps. It helps prevent swarming too.
    Second-year queens are far more likely to swarm. You can buy a queen or let them raise their own.
    Raymond

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