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Lately, I have come across several sources suggesting that capped or laid drone cells is an early indication that the colony intends to swarm. Almost all of my hives at some point have drone brood and many times there is no future swarm preparation. In addition, it seems odd to me that a colony would rear drones for its own swarming since it would be detrimental for the virgin to mate with drones from her own colony. I was just wondering where this thought comes from and whether anyone else has any input.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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My OPINION is that it is a big 'ol load of hooey. Swarming is probably preceded by drone production, but that does not necessarily mean that drone production signifies an "intent" to swarm. Left to their own devices (foundationless), bee population will be about 20% drone during the prime swarming period. This is a good thing if you have survivor bees! The only true signal of intention is the formation of queen cells at which point there is little one can do. Prevention by one of the several often discussed means is the best solution. Personally, I like giving them more space (OSBN) or splitting.
 

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Drone brood is an indicator of wealth in a colony during swarm season. A poor colony with a healthy productive queen produces very few drones. A nuc feeling pressure to build a colony and stores sufficient to survive a long winter produce NO drones. This to me means you cannot discard drone production as an indicator.

More important to watch is your queen in her second year. Given any perceived crowding or population pressure, that colonies destination is the trees. Checkerboarding and nectar management are strategies to head that off. Mel Disselkoens OTS is very successful at heading off swarming. But, timing is everything in all of them.

If you don't keep young queens in your colonies, they will swarm if you don't find a way, YOU can stop it.
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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>Drone brood is an indicator of wealth in a colony during swarm season. A poor colony with a healthy productive queen produces very few drones.

Exactly. It doesn't mean they will or won't swarm, but it means 1) it's swarm season and 2) this hive is prosperous

A prosperous hive is more prone to swarming than one that is struggling...
 

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In 4 or 5 frame nucs or even half size ones the bees will produce virtually no drones yet they will swarm out quite readily if they backfill the queens laying space.

" correlation not causation "
 
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