If anyone owns a copy of Beekeeping for Dummies, please reference pgs 150-151 for further elaboration--"Using an artificial swarm to prevent a natural swarm."
I shook some bees in one of my colonies to try to prevent a swarm, today. Not sure if it worked but looks good so far. Here's why I think my bees were prepping to swarm....
Inspected the hive, which is 4 deeps (yep, it's an experiment). Top two deeps weighed about 90 lbs each...that was fun to remove!
The bottom two deeps were woefully short of uncapped brood, lots of emerging brood, saw very few open brood, but on a couple frames I saw a few cells with eggs, not a lot, though. Found the queen with a green dot on her thorax, that tells you she's a year old. She looked slim like she was of flying weight.
I found about 15 queen cups in the swarm cell position (bottom of maybe 4-5 frames)...8 of these cups had an egg in them. One cup had a 3 day old larva in it.
The hive is about a week or two away from swarming, as I diagnosed it.
So here's what I did:
1. I tore out all the queen cups...yeah I know, I can hear beekeepers cringing and wincing all over America about this. Mike Palmer taught me to cut out/pinch queen cups with eggs or nothing in them. For cups with larvae/RJ in them, he teaches to search for the queen, and if no queen, then he says leave swarm cells alone.
2. Next, I split the hive into 2 two-deep bodies (one hive in the old location,...call this the old hive, and found the queen in one of the 2 splits.
3. I set the new hive directly on the ground about 10 feet away, then I shook out every bee onto a sheet in front of the bottom board, including the queen. Her majesty waltzed right in, followed by her court of about 20,000 workers + fat lazy drones. This is a variation of Blackiston's method as he shakes the workers out in front of their OLD home, including the queen. However, I figured that in a real swarm, the old queen LEAVES her OLD home for a NEW one. Which is why I shook my artificial swarm in front of the new split colony.
Again, my actions were predicated on my belief they were pending a swarm, based on the series of observations I found in the hive, described above. I did it hoping my actions would thwart a swarm, or as Blackiston says, "it gets the urge to swarm out of your colony's system."
Will let folks know the progress of this colony...i.e. did the artificial swarm work or no.