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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
"Artificial Swarm" is a beekeeping term that gets bandied about a great deal, but I have come to believe that those using the term are frequently speaking about different occurrences.

I am not asking HOW you split your hives, or HOW you create an Artificial Swarm. The variations in technique are too many to list and really not the point of this thread.

I am asking what must be accomplished, in your own definition, to have performed a successful Artificial Swarm?

Must the queen be removed from her original location?
Must there necessarily be a reduction in population?
Must there be a permanent separation of nurse and forager bees?
Must there be a specific distribution of capped brood and/or open brood?
Must there be a brood break?

Again, I am not so much interested in how you do it, but what you are trying to accomplish.

I have my own ideas, but wanted to learn from others.

Thank you for any replies.
 

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Remove conditions that induce swarm.

Necessary is presence of large amount of capped brood, a number of queen cells, queenright, large population of nurse bees

Removing all queen cells, removing all non flying bees, removing the queen, or removing all brood capped and open, all will prevent swarming.

Snelgrove felt the high ratio of juvenile bees (juvenile bee hormone) to forager age bees was a key instigator of swarm urge.

I am working backwards from why the 2 Snelgrove methods will prevent or abort swarming and also the results of doing the Taranov maneuver. Changes the age groups profile.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you Frank. I was hoping you would chime in.

Is it accurate to say that in order to perform an artificial swarm, you must either:

1. Separate the queen from the nurse bees; or
2. Separate the queen from all brood, both capped and open; or
3. Separate the queen from the nurse bees and brood both capped or open?

Don't you have to accomplish one of these three things to have an "Artificial Swarm"?
 

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We know that swarming is their way of reproduction and occupying territory. If we think of the things that are necessary for survival of both departing and remaining parts of the colony it nails a lot of things. The tricky part is knowing how they make their decisions. Their identifying of pheremones of different age class bees, queen condition, state of lay, capped brood, open brood, demographic ratios, etc., must be very sophisticated.
 

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I would disagree with the need to separate nurse bees from foragers. In a real swarm you get bees of all ages. This makes sense, when the swarm heads out they will need wax makers to start a new nest, nurses to tend the developing larvae, etc.
 

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I have always considered an artificial swarm to be removing the queen and a bunch of nurse bees along with some food and empty comb to create a new hive from one that is about to swarm. All of my hives are in one location so moving them to another site is not an option. Since the foragers will go back to the original hive, I need to take a fair amount of the nurse bees to make a viable colony. From my point of view and procedure:

1. The queen and the nurse bees have "swarmed" and are in a good new home with comb to build on and no brood (they will believe they swarmed)
2. The original colony is now queenless with fewer bees, several queen cells, plenty of food and some brood (they will believe the queen has left with the swarm)

The next morning, I move the queenright hive about 20 feet from the first location. The foragers that came with the artificial swarm and returned to the original hive now know the location of a very weak hive and will start robbing it. When they return, it is no longer there.
 

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I would disagree with the need to separate nurse bees from foragers. In a real swarm you get bees of all ages. This makes sense, when the swarm heads out they will need wax makers to start a new nest, nurses to tend the developing larvae, etc.
I was of the impression that nurse bees do not orient for about two weeks so their number would not be well represented in a normal swarm. The swarm though will have almost all the wax making bees which they will need to build a new colony. They will be able to raise the first small rounds of new brood which will be the new nurse bees.

The Taranov artificial swarm takes off the queen and virtually all the non flying bees. The remaining colony will manage but the pulled off bees will have no foragers for a while so they need fed. This does not closely simulate a normal swarm but removing all the youngest bees seems to have a strong influence. Certainly though taking away the queen would in itself stall the swarm too, at least till another queen emerged.
 

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To me it seems that the closest to natural swarm is the method where you move the queen (and only queen) into an empty box (foundation, but no comb) and place that box at the old location- that way they get 100% of the field bees and none of the nurse bees. Field bees "regress" to perform other functions until new generation of nurse bees is hatched.
 

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An artificial swarm is where you "swarm" a colony to let bees go through the natural process of reproduction. This is done to work with honeybees natural inclinations rather than "fighting" the process, which the beekeeper is almost never victorious. This is different than splitting where one just wants increase. Splitting can be done anytime whereas artificial swarming is done just before bees want to naturally swarm.

When a hive swarms the queen and bees leave the original sight to a new home. So for 30 days you have no new brood to feed which is said to equal 60 pounds of honey to raise that brood. You are "NOT" queenless you are just between laying queens. As long as you have proper aged larvae the bees will see themselves just fine. They won't be demoralized as some people think. Go read the classic bees books from miller, Doolittle, langstroth ect. Learn from them they have allot of wisdom.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
To me it seems that the closest to natural swarm is the method where you move the queen (and only queen) into an empty box (foundation, but no comb) and place that box at the old location- that way they get 100% of the field bees and none of the nurse bees. Field bees "regress" to perform other functions until new generation of nurse bees is hatched.
This is my practice and I have always thought it was an "Artificial Swarm." It is essentially what Lauri calls a "Fly Back Split."

But the question I have is, did I ACTUALLY simulate a swarm?

As grozzie and others have said, an actual swarm will contain bees of all ages. In my simulation, I take all of the nurse bees to a different spot in the apiary and all of the foragers fly back to the original location with the queen. I have done the exact same procedure vertically with a Snelgrove board.

I am happy with the result, I am just getting a little hung up on bee terminology I think. If this is not an Artificial Swarm, what component is lacking?
 

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I see it where they make a split by shaking the queen in a box of foundation with maybe a frame of brood, then shaking a bunch of frames of young bees in front of it and letting them walk in. The frame of brood is optional, but it would help anchor them. Whether the box is moved now or left in the old position doesn't make any difference to me, but basically you have reset the colony.
 

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I see it where they make a split by shaking the queen in a box of foundation with maybe a frame of brood, then shaking a bunch of frames of young bees in front of it and letting them walk in. The frame of brood is optional, but it would help anchor them. Whether the box is moved now or left in the old position doesn't make any difference to me, but basically you have reset the colony.
This is how I do it, except i just shake a few frames of bees into the box with the queen. And foragers will go back to the mother colony, and the nurses will soon become foragers. I feed sugar water to the daughter hive or make sure they have a frame or two of feed.
 

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I've done a combination of what dudelt, dekster & JRG13 have explained....and I call that a Taranov split or artificial swarm.

I shake the original hive onto a box with some stores & empty comb. The queen & non flying nurse bees will move into the box and the foragers will fly back to the original location hive and raise a new queen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So what component constitutes the difference between an Artificial Swarm and a split? If it is simply putting a queen in one box and some eggs in another and moving some bees around, I am not seeing a difference. Seems that “Artificial Swarm” is something we just say to sound like we are doing more than we really are. Not uncommon among us beekeepers.
 

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In my view, an artificial swarm is basically the equivalent of a package except probably from one hive. A split involved combs as well as bees. A swarm only involves bees and a queen.
I would agree.

There is a world of difference between resource-less bees and resource-full bees.
Split of most any kind == bees with some resources where often they don't even know something happened - purely artificial thing.
They will not behave swarm-like (save for a pure fly-back split - kind of an artificial swarm approximation IF all resources taken away).

Now the resource-less bees (save for the "cloths on their backs) should behave totally differently - they switch to a swarm mode of operation.

The fundamental difference is - do they have resources (split) OR they don't (swarm)?
I never understand the "splits" being called "swarms".
They are not. The swarms don't drag around combs into their new home.

The fundamental attribute of a swarm - an organized group of resource-less and related bees with their original queen that engage into swarm-like behavior (nest rebuilding from near-zero).
That is all you need to know.
All else is not a swarm.

PS: the package is - neither swarm or split - just chaotic pile of unrelated bees sold by the pound - it is bulk insect packaging/shipping method for pure commercial purposes
 

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>PS: the package is - neither swarm or split - just chaotic pile of unrelated bees sold by the pound - it is bulk insect packaging/shipping method for pure commercial purposes

While I agree there is some difference because of the chaotic nature of a package, they still behave very much like a swarm. Every year I hang a queen cage from a package in a tree to show how a swarm behaves and they act exactly like a swarm, finding and clustering around the queen etc.

>I would disagree with the need to separate nurse bees from foragers. In a real swarm you get bees of all ages.

I agree a swarm has SOME bees of all ages, but the overall age tends to be young which is part of why they are so good at making wax. But without the field bees they might never find a new home.
 

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While I agree there is some difference because of the chaotic nature of a package, they still behave very much like a swarm. Every year I hang a queen cage from a package in a tree to show how a swarm behaves and they act exactly like a swarm, finding and clustering around the queen etc.
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A healthy and near-normal swarm will rarely fail.
Even late season swarms are clinging to life and do everything in their power to live and survive.
I will take a late swarm and nurse them - because they want to live and they deserve a chance just for that.
Any swarm is a worthwhile project.

The mix-dumped packages on the other hand - a coin toss.
Often times they don't even care to live.
Bad projects from the onset.
Lots of them are pure Zombies. Junk.
 

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First, define a primary swarm. A primary swarm is a group of bees that separates from the parent colony with a queen (usually the old queen but sometimes a virgin) and moves to a new home. The bees in a swarm generally make up about 2/3 of the adult bee population of the parent colony with young adult bees in a rough proportion of 3/5 while foraging age bees are about 2/5 of the total swarm. As MP states, drones often accompany a swarm. I have seen fuzzy recently hatched bees along with older bees with severely damaged wings in swarms.

With this definition, a split where the queen and most of the foraging age bees are separated from the young bees does not constitute an artificial swarm. Such a split would present an extreme unbalanced condition with too many old and too few young bees.

One of my preferred methods is to take 3 frames of mostly sealed brood from one colony, place them in an empty hive, then swap with the position of another colony that is preparing to swarm. Removing 3 frames of brood along with all queen cells will almost always stop the swarming urge in the first colony. Removing all the foraging bees will almost always stop the swarming urge in the second colony. The 3 frame split has young bees in abundance and the full field force of the second colony so it usually makes a crop of honey along with the parent hives. Keep in mind that 3 frames of brood in Dadant size frames is nearly the equivalent of 5 Langstroth deep frames. I do not consider this to be an artificial swarm. It is a practical and effective method to prevent swarming while maintaining honey production. When the new queen emerges, this colony will work nearly as hard as a swarm to "catch up" with the parent colonies.
 
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