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Artificial swarm -- Variation on Howland Blackiston's (Beekeeping for Dummies) method

1861 Views 3 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Yuleluder
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!:pinch:

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, 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.
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Interesting -- Not sure that I understood it all

From what I read, it sounded like you shook all your bees onto a sheet so that they took up residence in a new hive. But then you had mentioned splitting the hives. Did you get two hives out of one hive?

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Did you get two hives out of one hive?
Yes, I split a 4 box (deep) hive first, into two 2-deep boxes. Four deep boxes is a ridiculously sized hive, but as I indicated I love to experiment (for me, that's the cake in beekeeping, honey is mere icing).

I set one 2 deep box 10 feet away from the original site of the old hive. The new location I call "new hive." And the old location is the old or original hive.

I personally phoned a previous poster on beesource named, Iddee, (Wally in NC) and consulted him about what I was going to do. I was going off of pure memory because I didn't have the book with me.:D

The only thing the author of the book says different from mine is he shakes the bees off frames in front of the OLD hive, puts the frames of foundation in the old hive so foragers will come home to the foundation.

Whatever doesn't make sense in my description, please ask and I'll gladly elaborate. Others may not understand too. Thanks!
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