High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2019
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    Northern Virginia
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    8

    Default High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb

    Hi all.
    There are so many good advices on swarm prevention, but having multiple hives in a dense suburb neighborhood I'm looking for the most certain process to prevent swarms without damaging honey production. I'm OK with extra cost (e.g. requeening) if that guarantees no swarming. I have three hives with marked clipped queens and not interested in adding a 4th, but can accommodate a split that will be merged back.

    Any advice for this scenario?

    Thank you so much (and hope I did not ask something that was answered a million times before

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Wayne, WV, USA
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    232

    Default Re: High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb

    can accommodate a split that will be merged back.
    You might look into the Demaree method. Essentially it involves separating the brood from the queen, and re-uniting later.

    I don't know where you're located, but re-queening every year would be a high-priority management tool, IMO.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Isle of Wight, VA
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    2,822

    Default Re: High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb

    I am in a suburban area with multiple hives in the yard. I do a lot of queen rearing and usually pull the existing queen from a hive over to a nuc in order to make the queen cells. I start doing this in mid April and in all the years I've been beekeeping, only had a hive swarm once.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    7,854

    Default Re: High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb

    At the beginning of your local swarm season, locate your queen and remove her and the frame of brood she is on from the parent hive. Select another frame of brood to go with her. Place those frames in a hive body set next to your hive and fill the box with foundation if you need some drawn or brood comb. Replace the frames you removed from the parent colony.

    Put a queen excluder over the parent colony. Put a two supers on top of parent colony. Place another queen excluder on top of the supers. Place another queen excluder over supers. Place hive body with queen and two frames of brood on top of the queen excluder.

    Provide the split with a small entrance of their own. Boring a one inch hole in the front of this box right above the handhold is ideal.

    The now queenless colony on the bottom will start building emergency cells which will produce an emergency queen in 12 1/2 days. She will be mated and laying in another fifteen days weather permitting.

    The queen on top will never quit laying. In fact she will be on a mission to build a new colony. Unemployed nurse bees from below will start smelling the brood above and migrate up to provide all the nurses the queen above needs to raise her enhanced egg laying.

    In a month from moving the old queen up, the new queen should be laying eggs by the frame. It is prudent to wait until that brood is capped so you can judge her pattern and verify she is not a drone layer. Any time after that, you can destroy the old queen on top and move the brood down below the supers. The swarm season is over and you have a vigorous young free queen! If the replacement queen fizzles, you still have a vigorous laying queen and you are again past the swarm season.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    creek county oklahoma
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    171

    Default Re: High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb

    I Like this, Vance!

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    5,252

    Default Re: High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb

    What Vance is describing would work very well and uses no special equipment. I accomplish very similar results by using a Snelgrove double screen division board which takes the place of the queen excluders but has a few more tricks to play on the bees.

    Do a google on "The many uses of the snelgrove board" or do a Beesource search for quite a few threads on using this method of swarm control and colony increase.Bee Equip + 002.jpgSnelgrove Board in Hive.jpg
    Frank

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb

    Thank you all. These are great ideas.
    A combination of Vance approach with Franks suggestion of snelgrove board is very appealing. I can find the queen in most attempts, so just moving her and another brood frame is easier than identifying most of the brood frames (as suggested in snelgrove methods).

    I think my only challenge will be figuring the right timing for this preemptive split. Should I wait to see capped brood? Or is having more than 2 frames of eggs/larvae enough?

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    5,252

    Default Re: High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb

    I wait till there is roughly 6 frames of mostly capped brood before splitting but cold nights is more a problem for me. Two underpopulated colonies grow very slowly. For certain though it is advised to act before any swarm cells appear. Some claim that the swarm decision is made well before the cells are started and it becomes more difficult to discourage once they have decided.

    Local advice on timing will be a lot more use to you than mine.
    Frank

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
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    4,599

    Default Re: High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb

    Sterlinggold, Ruthie is in Hampton Roads, I am outside of Richmond. For us, these manuevers must be completed by the second week of April. My plan is April first this coming year because several of my hives swarmed last season mid-April. If you are DC metro, follow the same time line. If by Winchester, you have an additional week or two.

    Vance, I like the ease of your method vs flipping the doors of a Snellgrove board. Especially since it does not involve a piece of additional equipment.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    1,048

    Default

    Have a look at Opening the Sides of the Brood Nest (OSBN).

    I haven't had any swarms when using this method.

    http://daveybees.wikidot.com/openingthesides

  12. #11
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    Northern Virginia
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    8

    Default Re: High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb

    HI All, just an update on how things went for me.
    On March 8 I located the queen in both of my hives (one queen is 2 2YO the other was introduced last summer). I added two supers and a snelgrove board above the supers with a new box for the queen + a few brood frames above the snelgrove. I made sure there were at least a few frames with eggs left behind (so now each hive from-the-bottom has 3 medium brood boxes queenless->2 medium supers->snelgove->brood with the queen->cover).

    Yesterday 1PM the hive where the 2 YO queen used to be swarmed. I luckily caught the swarm today, and saw what looks to be still a virgin queen in there. I marked her and I plan on keeping her in a cage for a couple of days in the new hive.

    I have a so many question, really appreciate any help:

    1) Is there a chance the main hive that swarmed is now queenless again? Or are there high chances there is another virgin queen there?

    2) I don't have a large yard so I'm keeping the new swarm next to the original hive it came from, is that a problem? Should I move it further away?

    3) Is there a chance the new swarm will try to swarm again? Can I stop that? (I'm feeding them in a medium box with entrance reducer now)

    4) I'm a bit stumped with the timing. Since the hive was split 3 weeks ago, does it mean even back then the bees already were in swarm mode? they just waited for a new queen to emerge?

    Swarm vid: https://youtu.be/ZB-UBkof6ks

    Thank you!

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
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    1,048

    Default Re: High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb

    1. There is likely at least one other virgin queen or even new queen cells if the swarm queen had started laying.

    2. Not a problem.

    3. Yes it is likely, multiple queen cells would have been made. Also, don't feed during swarm season.

    4. Timing is fine, from emergency cells from when you put on the Snelgrove board. New queen could already be laying.

    Always go in 7-10 days after removing a queen and reduce the number of queen cells down to 2 or 3, so that the bees treat it as a supersedure instead of swarming.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    5,252

    Default Re: High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb

    I get the feeling from your description that you left far too much capped brood in the bottom box. The bottom box need only have been left with a handful of eggs and young larvae to anchor the bees and provide the makings of a new queen. In your climate you could have given them half undrawn combs. The balance of the frames and almost all the brood capped and otherwise goes above the division board along with the queen. This is Snelgroves Method 2. All the flying bees will leave the upper box to return to the box below.

    The lower box will not swarm because their population makeup and not queen does not meet swarm conditions. The upper box will lose all its flying bees immediately as they return to the bottom box so it will not be able to swarm. The door diversions continue to bleed off bees to the bottom box shortly after they orient so the upper box wont reach swarm conditions either.

    Not untill the lower box makes and mates a queen and develops a crowed brood condition, can swarm conditions occur. This should take you past swarm season.

    Only once, when I left too many resources with the bottom box I discovered they were getting ready to swarm a few weeks later. In my climate I do not have to impoverish the bottom box as much to prevent swarming as you should do in your location.

    In a location with a long lush conditions and no summer drought you probably might have to do the second second Snelgrove division but I think that does not apply to either of us.

    I have used the Snelgrove system for quite a few years. My situation makes swarms a very bad idea too.
    Frank

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    873

    Default Re: High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb

    Vance G,

    Question on your Post #4 above: In the second paragraph of your description where you say "Put two supers on top of parent colony" , Question: are those two supers void of frames or are they full of frames containing drawn comb for the bees to occupy and utilize?

    Thanks,
    Steve

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
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    2,672

    Default Re: High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb

    I'm intrigued.

    Does the method described by Vance have a name?

    Does it affect honey production?
    Last edited by shinbone; 03-29-2020 at 08:04 PM.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  17. #16
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    5,252

    Default Re: High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb

    Quote Originally Posted by shinbone View Post
    I'm intrigued.

    Does the method described by Vance have a name?

    Does it affect honey production?
    If it doesnt have a name, I think it deserves one!
    Frank

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
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    Default Re: High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb

    "Swarm within a hive"
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Milford, Michigan USA
    Posts
    306

    Default Re: High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb

    I saved Vances method as the “Vance g method”

    I have been using the Snelgrove board but will try this on at least one colony this year. Thank you Vance.

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Newtown, CT, USA
    Posts
    229

    Default Re: High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb

    Crofter,

    Why your boards have two screens in them, I have ten of these boards all with one screen in the middle?

  21. #20
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    5,252

    Default Re: High certainty swarm prevention in dense suburb

    One screen on each side of the board creates enough distance between them to keep the bees on one side from feeding or sharing queen pheremones. Through a single screen they can swap chewing gum with ease It is supposed to more definitely trigger the sense of queenlessness and starting of cells. A single screen would be more like an excluder which does not always work at first go. Have never had the double screen division board fail to initiate starting of queen cells.
    Frank

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