Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split? - Page 2
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  1. #21
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    Quote Originally Posted by username00101 View Post
    Question for the experienced beekeepers here. Is it feasible, or at least realistic to expect to prevent swarming without performing a spring split?

    This year in my apiary, swarming was a major issue. I noticed that even hives that I took multiple frames of brood, STILL swarmed.

    To my dismay, I even found that colonies that had swarmed in June, decided to swarm AGAIN in mid August.

    My area didn't get much of a summer dearth this year, due to favorable weather.

    The whole experience made me seriously doubt the feasibility of attempting to control swarming without performing a significant spring split. Seemed to me like regardless of how many frames of brood I stole, the colony would just gather strength again and the first decision they'd make is SWARM. Not "store food for winter".

    Do you think my challenges with swarming were related to the fact that I started with strong nucs (not just nucs, these were very strong nucs), rather than over wintered colonies?
    What I see I my area is quite a bit different from what beeks in the east see. In this area, the months of April and early May are swarm heaven for bees. During that time, maples, almonds, peaches, plums, apples and cherries all bloom pretty much at the same time. We have loads of all of them in the area. Big leaf maples AKA Oregon maples in particular are the biggest producer of nectar. The bees can easily fill a deep with maple nectar in a week and the flow can last for three weeks. I find that the bees swarm when the queen runs out of room to lay. Supers are useless because the bees are not thinking about winter storage in April. They are genetically programed to reproduce (swarm) at that time, not store food for winter. The last three years I put supers on in February and I will not do it again. They never put a drop in the supers and if you looked in them, there was never more than a couple of bees there either. They happily fill the supers in late May and June but will not during swarm season. At least they won't in my area. The bees are always putting nectar on the sides of the brood area and compressing it downward and towards the middle until there is no space left. Then they do the same in the lower box. Last year in an act of desperation, I put the supers below the brood boxes on 2 hives. The queen moved into the supers and started laying there and I got 2 deep boxes of maple honey from each hive. And neither swarmed. I tested it again this year on four hives with the same results. It will now be my go to system for swarm control. I feel that if the bees keep forcing the queen to lay lower and lower in the hive, why fight it? I am going to go with what they are doing and give her more room at the bottom of the hive.

    Swarming can be reduced but it will require some annual testing on your part to figure out what works best for you. As stated previously, read the writings of Walt Wright and find the thread by Matt Davey on opening the sides of the broodnest. It is great info. I do think that if your bees are swarming in August, There must be something you need to adjust to in order to prevent it. Bees generally don't want to swarm that late in the year unless there is a problem. I have never found that taking frames of brood will stop or slow down the swarming impulse. Taking the queen out will but clearly you don't want to do that.

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  3. #22
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    Quote Originally Posted by username00101 View Post
    Question for the experienced beekeepers here. Is it feasible, or at least realistic to expect to prevent swarming without performing a spring split?

    This year in my apiary, swarming was a major issue. I noticed that even hives that I took multiple frames of brood, STILL swarmed.

    To my dismay, I even found that colonies that had swarmed in June, decided to swarm AGAIN in mid August.

    My area didn't get much of a summer dearth this year, due to favorable weather.

    The whole experience made me seriously doubt the feasibility of attempting to control swarming without performing a significant spring split. Seemed to me like regardless of how many frames of brood I stole, the colony would just gather strength again and the first decision they'd make is SWARM. Not "store food for winter".

    Do you think my challenges with swarming were related to the fact that I started with strong nucs (not just nucs, these were very strong nucs), rather than over wintered colonies?
    Of course what everyone else has said is true, and do try next year some of the suggestions that have been made. But from your description of what you did and what the bees did this year for you, it just seems to me you might possibly have some overly swarmy genetics in your hives. I just posted as I did to give a different perspective I guess. As always and to everyone, best of luck with your bees.
    Live real time bee chat, most evenings...
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  4. #23
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    > Is it feasible, or at least realistic to expect to prevent swarming without performing a spring split?

    Feasible, realistic and should be your goal if you want to make honey rather than increase. Sometimes things are further along and you can't prevent it because of their timing in regards to your timing...

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesswarmcontrol.htm

    "The confusion of conceptions which arises in the mind when the term swarm-prevention is mentioned, has to a great extent, been a hindrance to logical reasoning on the subject. At mention of the swarm, there is conjured up from the background of our minds, the exciting and spectacular scenes we have seen enacted around the apiary. What we want to prevent is not the birth but the conception. We must go even prior to this and prevent the primal urge. To avoid confusion and give reason and logic an opportunity to work, unhampered by visions conjured up at mention of the word swarm, the word urge will be used here to refer to the initial starting point of the swarming impulse."—E.D. Clark, Constructive Beekeeping

    If you intervene soon enough it is usually feasible.

    While I have certainly seen bees that I would classify as swarmy, them swarming is not evidence of that. Them swarming when there is no apparent reason and it's not the right time of year, and afterswarming until there are no bees left, would be swarmy.

    "For years our bee journals have been printing reams of articles on the question of a non-swarming strain of bees. It has always seemed to me there was a lot of time wasted advocating such an improbable accomplishment, because nature would hardly yield to an arrangement that in itself might destroy the species. If accomplished it would be tantamount to breeding the mating instinct out of domestic animals." --P.C. Chadwick ABJ, April 1936

    Bees swarm. Thank goodness for that or there would be no bees left in the world. But we can certainly intervene. See my link above for my method. There are several methods that can be successful and several that are dismal failures...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  5. #24
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    And then there is Ian Steppler's method.

    https://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...cale-operation

    also his website:
    http://www.stepplerfarms.com/StepplerHoney.html

    and a 40 min presentation:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=386qWGnt_CU

    This technique requires drawn honey supers.

    In very short summary:
    1. Hives are overwintered (indoors, in Canada) as a single deep. Then the hives are brought out in spring.
    2. Then at some point in spring, a second deep with drawn comb is put on. The queen lays this up.
    3. Once it is capped brood, the queen is shaken/forced down and a Queen Excluder put on. The bottom deep got either filled with nectar or opened up while the queen was above, so it is empty of brood and ready for her. I think DRAWN supers are put on now too - because the bees will be bringing in nectar, or moving nectar out of the bottom deep as the queen moves down there.
    4. Once the capped brood emerges, that second deep is removed.

    I think this is the flow. Check it out for yourself! A local beek has been doing this, and I just realized I have some questions about the technique.... perhaps I'll report back! Someday soon I'll watch that vid too.

  6. #25
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    try Wally Shaw pdf from Welsh Beekeepers association for a more conclusive writing on snelgrove http://www.wbka.com/wp-content/uploa...groveboard.pdf

  7. #26
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    I will not introduce other possibilities than what has already been discussed, but will only add a little strategy and comment on what I have had marginal success doing.

    Location, Location, Location. I have brood in my hives all year long and an extremely long growing season. They ramp up in January, I have swarms that start in February and I caught a swarm on Halloween last year. I can't keep manipulating hives all year, so I have to pick my battles and manipulate to optimize workforce during the flows I want to capture. As to the rest of the year . . . they are on their own.

    Favorite: Beemandan's pinching of the queen. Killing your queen as you are entering the nectar flow and before swarming works very well. The eggs laid at the beginning of the flow will be of no benefit to the production of the hive during the flow. Having a fresh new queen coming out of the flow will promote a good ramping up of bees before winter. Put pinching your queen in "primetime" is a gutsy move for a newer beekeeper and would understand your reluctance to do that.

    Second Favorite: Crofter's Snelgrove Board. You need to read Snelgrove's book. Snelgrove was English and probably has a similar climate to PA. Your season is not as long as mine, so a Snelgrove board manipulation might be all you need. It basically buys me 6 to 8 weeks. Beyond that, I have to either do it again, or I lose them to swarming. It could be perfect for your shorter season. Effective, and probably all you need in more northern climates. I see Wally Shaw's adaptation to the Snelgrove board has a link posted above. I used to keep a copy of that in my truck. Excellent.

  8. #27
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    Quote Originally Posted by ifixoldhouses View Post
    What if you just kept a queen excluder over the entrance?
    If they decide to swarm, the emerging virgin could kill your mated queen. The virgin wouldn't be able to go out and mate. This can be a short term fix, but it's not a place it and forget it strategy.
    Hindsight is 20/10, not 20/20...
    After the fact, I always know what didn't work.

  9. #28
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    That's how the killer bees got started, some guy took off all the queen excluders on the entrances and they took off out into the wild
    Someone said they can fit through when their skinny, but I have them in queen clips and they didn't escape, looks about the same size?
    NCSBA Certified Beekeeper - my Youtube Vlog
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  10. #29
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    >That's how the killer bees got started, some guy took off all the queen excluders on the entrances and they took off out into the wild...

    I know it's commonly told, but it is such a bullsh*t story. Drones would have been getting out or they would clog the excluders. If drones can get out, queens can get out. If drones are getting out the genes are already geting out...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  11. #30
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >That's how the killer bees got started, some guy took off all the queen excluders on the entrances and they took off out into the wild...

    I know it's commonly told, but it is such a bullsh*t story. Drones would have been getting out or they would clog the excluders. If drones can get out, queens can get out. If drones are getting out the genes are already geting out...
    That's the story I have also always heard. Were there no actual controls in place or was it just poorly executed so they needed to create a scapegoat?

    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  12. #31
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    That is the story told by Dr. Kerr, I see no reason to call him a liar.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  13. #32
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    I just always took it as true, also. Now that I think about, maybe the QEs were put on to contain the Drones as well.

    It has been way to long since I read about it and I'm not even sure of the source. Oh, well.

    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  14. #33
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    Quote Originally Posted by username00101 View Post
    Question for the experienced beekeepers here. Is it feasible, or at least realistic to expect to prevent swarming without performing a spring split?
    Get asked this all the time by new beekeepers in the second year as swarm season ramps up, usually after they have had one or more swarms.

    My answer is always the same. Without a decent inventory of drawn comb, the only way I have found that works is to split the colony. This is what they want to do, so do a walk away split before the bees do the fly away split. If you have an inventory of drawn comb, as long as you keep ahead of the queen with empty drawn comb then you can keep bees in the boxes. Some colonies will be bent on swarming even with empty drawn comb in the hive, and that's when you know they are just swarmy bees and need a new queen from a different line. With bees not prone to swarming, the key is to make sure there is always empty drawn comb for the queen to lay in, either fresh comb you are adding, or recently emerged brood.

    During our February and March bee club meetings, always some folks terribly disappointed because one of the colonies they have didn't survive the winter. I tell them, that is indeed your ticket to a large honey crop this year because now you have an inventory of drawn comb to use for swarm management.

  15. #34
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    Quote Originally Posted by grozzie2 View Post
    Get asked this all the time by new beekeepers in the second year as swarm season ramps up, usually after they have had one or more swarms.

    My answer is always the same. Without a decent inventory of drawn comb, the only way I have found that works is to split the colony. This is what they want to do, so do a walk away split before the bees do the fly away split. If you have an inventory of drawn comb, as long as you keep ahead of the queen with empty drawn comb then you can keep bees in the boxes. Some colonies will be bent on swarming even with empty drawn comb in the hive, and that's when you know they are just swarmy bees and need a new queen from a different line. With bees not prone to swarming, the key is to make sure there is always empty drawn comb for the queen to lay in, either fresh comb you are adding, or recently emerged brood.

    During our February and March bee club meetings, always some folks terribly disappointed because one of the colonies they have didn't survive the winter. I tell them, that is indeed your ticket to a large honey crop this year because now you have an inventory of drawn comb to use for swarm management.
    How much of an inventory of drawn comb is generally required for a standard overwintered hive?

    In my setup, all of the strong hives will be overwintering with 2 deeps and a medium, all drawn.

  16. #35
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    >Without a decent inventory of drawn comb, the only way I have found that works is to split the colony.

    In my experience empty frames are much more effective at preventing swarming than drawn comb. If you put drawn comb in the brood nest they immediately backfill it. If you put an empty frame in, as soon as there is a mid rib and a little bit of a wall the queen lays in it before the cell is deep enough to backfill it. I don't but drawn comb in to prevent swarming when they are backfilling. Just empty frames. Drawn comb is very useful in the supers, of course, but by the time the main flow starts swarming usually isn't as much of a problem.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  17. #36
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    In my experience empty frames are much more effective at preventing swarming than drawn comb.
    For some reason my experience has been just the opposite. If I insert empty frames in or around the broodnest when the bees are just beginning to backfill and thinking about swarm preparations they completely ignore the empty frames and keep backfilling any drawn comb in the brood nest. But, if I pull out brood frames that are being backfilled with nectar and move them up into a super, then insert empty drawn brood comb in it's place, the queen will be laying eggs in at least part of the frame.

    I've tried inserting empty frames prior to swarming and it just never seems to work out. Drawn comb is the only thing that works for me. The bees don't seem to want to waste any effort drawing out much new comb until we are well into swarm season, or just after. Maybe it's a regional weather thing, I don't know.
    To everything there is a season....

  18. #37
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Gillmore View Post
    For some reason my experience has been just the opposite.
    That is my experience as well. Keep empty drawn brood comb ahead of the queen so she can lay, and they stay put. But once backfill starts, the swarm has become inevitable. We have a strong flow during the swarm period, from about mid April thru till mid June. If I dont have empty drawn supers on, and empty drawn comb for the brood nest, then swarm preps are likely.

  19. #38
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    Here is a link to a radical treatment to prevent swarming. I have no doubt it is effective but seems wasteful. It should be noted though that it was written 1906 to 1909 before Varroa and the need to provide for 30% or more yearly colony replacement. It is 15 minute read. One of the things I considered before settling on Snelgroves method.

    https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j...ho3_Aqa_OzXEwv

    If this does not hyperlink then google


    Jones, Henry A radical cure for swarming habit of bees
    Frank

  20. #39
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    As an alternate option, you could just let them swarm and catch the swarms. Lazutin "Keeping Bees with a Smile"
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

  21. #40
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    Default Re: Is it feasible to control swarming without performing a spring split?

    Quote Originally Posted by amk View Post
    If your bees are that swarmy you may have bad genetics.
    Some bees will want to swarm from half-empty hives.
    There is nothing you can do.

    Best you can do - take advantage and split then (it will take the change of anti-splitting management, however; the question is - why the anti-split approach anyway? what is wrong with it?).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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