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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In a discussion about various complex swarm prevention techniques on one of the other forums a questions was raised, What do the commercial beekeepers do to prevent swarming?

Thought I would start a thread here and solicit your comments and insight into standard swarm control practices in the commercial world to help others understand what you have found to be the most successful methods in your operations.

Obviously, a hobbyist beekeeper will typically have the opportunity to devote a lot more time per colony to all of the various manipulations and methods used to control swarming. I'm guessing that commercial beekeepers would not have the luxury of spending that much time on their colonies and still run an efficient business. Maybe not, I don't know.

Would love to hear how you manage your colonies to prevent swarming. I'm sure some of your methods would cross over into any category, from commercial to back yard beekeeper. Thanks in advance.
 

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We are on the "Intense" end of the spectrum, but run from 4 to 6 minutes a hive. Once a system has been solidified, time is reduced. We clip queens when the hives are still small(we do NOT wrangle bees), and provide adequate room for the queen at all times(in a single deep). Swarming evidence is not found, but we have seen late Summer abscounding on occasion, of which we are building a hypothesis.

Crazy Roland
Linden Apiary, est. 1852
 

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Some I've spoken to requeen every spring....typically with cells. Often they shake frames from the old hive into an empty hive body over a queen excluder to locate the old queen.
 

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We clip queens when the hives are still small
I’ve considered clipping queens’ wings as a form of swarm management but so many of mine have secondary swarms and some even tertiary….that I wondered how well it would work.
 

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Is there really such a thing as "swarm prevention"?
We shake packages, pull nucs, make hard divides.
Is that "swarm prevention" or are we just swarming for them, but in a controlled fashion?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Is that "swarm prevention" or are we just swarming for them, but in a controlled fashion?
That's a great point.
Do commercial beekeepers who are mainly focused on "honey production" also need to do all of those things to keep their colonies from swarming? Seems like all of that splitting and dividing would reduce a colony's foraging force, resulting in lower yields.

I've never had an opportunity to visit a commercial operation so that whole world is foreign to me. Just curious how they deal with it.
 

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That's a great point.
Do commercial beekeepers who are mainly focused on "honey production" also need to do all of those things to keep their colonies from swarming? Seems like all of that splitting and dividing would reduce a colony's foraging force, resulting in lower yields.

I've never had an opportunity to visit a commercial operation so that whole world is foreign to me. Just curious how they deal with it.
Back in the days before shaking and nuc sales we just made a lot of increase for honey production. The goal is to keep your hives in check without hurting them for production. Here in NW Ohio, the numbers of frames I shoot for by the first of June is 6 frames of brood. You don't wanting them to peak until the main flow. It might hurt if you get a good basswood flow in the two week of June. So you might lose 40 lbs but you still get 100+ lb. main flow. If they swarm you don't get maybe 50 lbs, which breaks you even. All work with no pay.

Since I turned to big nucs sales my production has dropped my 7 year APH to 137 lb. compares to 156 years ago.

I sell a nuc for $180, but if I would have put that to work and produced 137lb @ $2.50 lb = $340 almost double the pay. The question comes down to how much work do you want to put in.

How many hives do you have to work for honey production to make or break you?
 

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........the numbers of frames I shoot for by the first of June is 6 frames of brood. You don't wanting them to peak until the main flow.
This is similar to my situation.
For those of us that take bees into almonds; we manage for strong hives early in the season.
Without knocking them back prior to the flow, they would all swarm. Maybe more than once.
Annual Brood Timing is what some folks call it.
It has always amused me to attend bee meetings and walk to one side of the room and folks are asking where to buy packages and / or nucs.
Then walk to the other side of the room and the conversation surrounds horrendous swarming.
It they could just buy a few queens and get together; all of their problems could be solved!
:)
 

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Harry, call it what you like. As long as you have them peak very near the beginng of the flow, and keep them out of the trees, does it matter?

Crazy Roland
 

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We make divides early for replacements, growth and nuc sales. Try to keep them from swarming till they get honey minded. Never afraid to pull a frame of brood from those monsters to give to another one down the line. Re-queen every year in July after we pull supers.

We don't have time for it now but Grandpa used to kill all of his queens right before the flow. Got more honey and a new queen that way. Didn't need the brood break back then. Did it for swarming and more honey.
 
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