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Discussion Starter #1
Some of the Canadian beekeepers who manage single deeps seem to say that their primary swarm control is simply cutting out swarm cells every week or so. I wonder if this is really a possible and effective method for preventing swarms, without going through all of the contortions of splits or Snellgrove manipulations etc. etc. ad infinity. Has anyone been successful using this very simple intervention?
 

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I once worked for someone who did exactly that, but eventually the bees got so desperate to swarm they would swarm when they just had 2 or 3 day old queen cells.

However swarming urge and length of the swarming season can vary with location and bee strain. So cutting cells once a week will certainly delay swarming, and might be enough to stop swarming for some people, in some areas.
 

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In my experience they will inevitably build a swarm cell in an out of the way spot...and I will overlook it.
For me it isn't a good strategy.
 

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Fighting against there natural tendencies is a losing proposition. Easier to artificially swarm them. They get to reproduce, you maintain control, and everyone wins. To set there and chop out cells for weeks is a waste of energy. If it was a one time thing to get to the flow I can see that. But all season isn't reasonable. This is where the "art" of beekeeping comes in. A skilled beekeeper lets them do what the want according to the beekeepers direction and manipulation. The opposite to try to force them to do your will which of course never works out.
 

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While they are trying to swarm they are also preparing the queen by putting her on a diet which should reduce her laying and so forth. Probably not a state you want to stay in longer than you have to. Split or do something else to get out of that state.
 

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That's a good point Absinthe, and is exactly what I saw when working for the guys who cut queen cells weekly but did nothing else. The brood in many of the hives went spotty and just did not look like a good brood nest. I thought it was the constant disruption of the weekly checks, but what you say makes sense, very likely the slimmed down queens also.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ralph Buchler says something similar in one of his talks at the National Honey Show. On sustainable varroa management he asserts that it’s important, even necessary, for colony vigor that they swarm or some analog to swarming- a shook swarm or similar . A managed swarm, you could say.
 

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Ralph Buchler says something similar in one of his talks at the National Honey Show. On sustainable varroa management he asserts that it’s important, even necessary, for colony vigor that they swarm or some analog to swarming- a shook swarm or similar . A managed swarm, you could say.
Vigor from a new queen? Brood break maybe if regarding varroa.
 

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I had Buckfast bees 10/15 years ago that responded to cutting cells and adding supers of comb, but all other bees before and after those required making a split if cells with larvae were found. I don't think anti-swarming is being selected for in todays bees.
 

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I wonder how a queen thinning down will affect her spermatheca?
Interesting question. My guess is once she is back up and running normally all will be as before, because we see the way swarms do so well, the queen is obviously restored to good performance. But in a pre swarm hive, if the queen is kept in a perpetual state of swarm readiness due to beekeeper intervention to prevent swarming but not kill the urge, might be an issue, it would be a hard one to study and get an absolute answer.

I don't think anti-swarming is being selected for in todays bees.
Pretty sure you are right ARB. Particularly at the hobby level, much increase or replacement is made by collecting swarms, thereby propagating the swarmers. I'm pretty sure the bees where I am are a lot more swarmy now, than when I got started 50'ish years ago.

Here's a thought on that. Way back before humans started managing bees, there had to be an optimum level of swarming for a hive. Don't swarm enough and your line will be replaced by bees that swarm more. But overswarm, and the parent hive will be decimated, plus the swarms may be weak in bee numbers and have a lower chance of survival. So somewhere in the middle is an ideal level where few enough swarms are sent out to ensure that each is strong in numbers and has good odds to survive.
But then enter humans, moveable frame hives, and intensive management by the beekeeper. The situation is now skewed. Because if the beekeeper is a swarm collector, he / she will hive the swarm, and help it along to ensure it survives. Which means that overswarming hives now have a survival edge that they did not have previously. IE, the more a hive or strain of bee swarms, the more numerous those bees will become in a kept environment, regardless of the quality of the swarms they produce.

End result, a shift towards swarmier bees.
 

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Interesting analysis OT. I guess I have always been a pessimist on the notion that your odds are very good trying to stop the urge to swarm once it has begun as the old queen may have already shut down. My tendency when finding an over sized swarm full of cells is to search out the old queen, kill her and let the requeening process naturally occur or perhaps make a division taking care to place multiple cells in each split.
 

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I watched a UoG YouTube video on swarm management. They overwinter in single deeps. When the fellow opened the hives in spring they were packed....I mean bees hanging out the front loaded with bees. One had absolutely no swarm cells and the other had one with an egg. Heck…mine would have been in the trees three times over already. They clearly select for bees that don’t tend to swarm. I may have to rethink my queen suppliers.
 

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I watched a UoG YouTube video on swarm management. They overwinter in single deeps. When the fellow opened the hives in spring they were packed....I mean bees hanging out the front loaded with bees. One had absolutely no swarm cells and the other had one with an egg. Heck…mine would have been in the trees three times over already. They clearly select for bees that don’t tend to swarm. I may have to rethink my queen suppliers.
I have shipped truck loads of single hives for almond pollination that were as you describe sans any cells, Dan, and had them return 6 weeks later, honey bound but with nary a cell to be found. My theory is the shipping and change in climate disrupts their natural tendency to swarm....at least short term.
 

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“Pretty sure you are right ARB. Particularly at the hobby level, much increase or replacement is made by collecting swarms, thereby propagating the swarmers. I'm pretty sure the bees where I am are a lot more swarmy now, than when I got started 50'ish years ago.“

I am wondering how you can select non- swarming genetics in a honey bee?
 

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I watched a UoG YouTube video on swarm management. They overwinter in single deeps. When the fellow opened the hives in spring they were packed....I mean bees hanging out the front loaded with bees. One had absolutely no swarm cells and the other had one with an egg. Heck…mine would have been in the trees three times over already. They clearly select for bees that don’t tend to swarm. I may have to rethink my queen suppliers.
So what was the management they did to prevent swarming?
 

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So what was the management they did to prevent swarming?
Check it out. In all truth....their management would be insufficient for my bees.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GD0oKQSB-c&t

In my yards the most effective things are replacing queens in the spring....colonies with young queens are much less likely to swarm....the younger the better....and making sure that they have plenty of room for brood rearing and honey storage. In my hives neither is adequate by itself but together they work.
Any time I do find a hive building swarm cells, I remove the queen and all except three or so cells of the same maturity. In my experience, once the swarm impulse has been triggered there isn't anything that I can do to stop it if I hope to keep the colony intact.
 

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I just posted this question to Bee-l I inspected a hive yesterday, healthy, strong, packed with bees, had eggs, open brood, and empty CAPPED swarm cells with last years queen still present. Unlimited broodnest, a deep and 3-4 mediums. No other cells were found.
 

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empty CAPPED swarm cells
Empty and capped? Not anything I've seen.
Last year's queen doesn't cut it with regard to inhibiting the swarm impulse in my hives.
 

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This is a first for me; capped and empty. it was suggested by Clyderoad that maybe the hive swarmed and the hinged cap for whatever reason the bees saw fit was reattached; but, there was more than one, and the marked queen from last year was still in the hive, so it did not swarm.
 
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