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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all.
There are so many good advices on swarm prevention, but having multiple hives in a dense suburb neighborhood I'm looking for the most certain process to prevent swarms without damaging honey production. I'm OK with extra cost (e.g. requeening) if that guarantees no swarming. I have three hives with marked clipped queens and not interested in adding a 4th, but can accommodate a split that will be merged back.

Any advice for this scenario?

Thank you so much (and hope I did not ask something that was answered a million times before :)
 

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can accommodate a split that will be merged back.
You might look into the Demaree method. Essentially it involves separating the brood from the queen, and re-uniting later.

I don't know where you're located, but re-queening every year would be a high-priority management tool, IMO.
 

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At the beginning of your local swarm season, locate your queen and remove her and the frame of brood she is on from the parent hive. Select another frame of brood to go with her. Place those frames in a hive body set next to your hive and fill the box with foundation if you need some drawn or brood comb. Replace the frames you removed from the parent colony.

Put a queen excluder over the parent colony. Put a two supers on top of parent colony. Place another queen excluder on top of the supers. Place another queen excluder over supers. Place hive body with queen and two frames of brood on top of the queen excluder.

Provide the split with a small entrance of their own. Boring a one inch hole in the front of this box right above the handhold is ideal.

The now queenless colony on the bottom will start building emergency cells which will produce an emergency queen in 12 1/2 days. She will be mated and laying in another fifteen days weather permitting.

The queen on top will never quit laying. In fact she will be on a mission to build a new colony. Unemployed nurse bees from below will start smelling the brood above and migrate up to provide all the nurses the queen above needs to raise her enhanced egg laying.

In a month from moving the old queen up, the new queen should be laying eggs by the frame. It is prudent to wait until that brood is capped so you can judge her pattern and verify she is not a drone layer. Any time after that, you can destroy the old queen on top and move the brood down below the supers. The swarm season is over and you have a vigorous young free queen! If the replacement queen fizzles, you still have a vigorous laying queen and you are again past the swarm season.
 

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What Vance is describing would work very well and uses no special equipment. I accomplish very similar results by using a Snelgrove double screen division board which takes the place of the queen excluders but has a few more tricks to play on the bees.

Do a google on "The many uses of the snelgrove board" or do a Beesource search for quite a few threads on using this method of swarm control and colony increase. Bee Equip + 002.jpg Snelgrove Board in Hive.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you all. These are great ideas.
A combination of Vance approach with Franks suggestion of snelgrove board is very appealing. I can find the queen in most attempts, so just moving her and another brood frame is easier than identifying most of the brood frames (as suggested in snelgrove methods).

I think my only challenge will be figuring the right timing for this preemptive split. Should I wait to see capped brood? Or is having more than 2 frames of eggs/larvae enough?
 

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I wait till there is roughly 6 frames of mostly capped brood before splitting but cold nights is more a problem for me. Two underpopulated colonies grow very slowly. For certain though it is advised to act before any swarm cells appear. Some claim that the swarm decision is made well before the cells are started and it becomes more difficult to discourage once they have decided.

Local advice on timing will be a lot more use to you than mine.
 

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Sterlinggold, Ruthie is in Hampton Roads, I am outside of Richmond. For us, these manuevers must be completed by the second week of April. My plan is April first this coming year because several of my hives swarmed last season mid-April. If you are DC metro, follow the same time line. If by Winchester, you have an additional week or two.

Vance, I like the ease of your method vs flipping the doors of a Snellgrove board. Especially since it does not involve a piece of additional equipment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
HI All, just an update on how things went for me.
On March 8 I located the queen in both of my hives (one queen is 2 2YO the other was introduced last summer). I added two supers and a snelgrove board above the supers with a new box for the queen + a few brood frames above the snelgrove. I made sure there were at least a few frames with eggs left behind (so now each hive from-the-bottom has 3 medium brood boxes queenless->2 medium supers->snelgove->brood with the queen->cover).

Yesterday 1PM the hive where the 2 YO queen used to be swarmed. I luckily caught the swarm today, and saw what looks to be still a virgin queen in there. I marked her and I plan on keeping her in a cage for a couple of days in the new hive.

I have a so many question, really appreciate any help:

1) Is there a chance the main hive that swarmed is now queenless again? Or are there high chances there is another virgin queen there?

2) I don't have a large yard so I'm keeping the new swarm next to the original hive it came from, is that a problem? Should I move it further away?

3) Is there a chance the new swarm will try to swarm again? Can I stop that? (I'm feeding them in a medium box with entrance reducer now)

4) I'm a bit stumped with the timing. Since the hive was split 3 weeks ago, does it mean even back then the bees already were in swarm mode? they just waited for a new queen to emerge?

Swarm vid: https://youtu.be/ZB-UBkof6ks

Thank you!
 

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1. There is likely at least one other virgin queen or even new queen cells if the swarm queen had started laying.

2. Not a problem.

3. Yes it is likely, multiple queen cells would have been made. Also, don't feed during swarm season.

4. Timing is fine, from emergency cells from when you put on the Snelgrove board. New queen could already be laying.

Always go in 7-10 days after removing a queen and reduce the number of queen cells down to 2 or 3, so that the bees treat it as a supersedure instead of swarming.
 

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I get the feeling from your description that you left far too much capped brood in the bottom box. The bottom box need only have been left with a handful of eggs and young larvae to anchor the bees and provide the makings of a new queen. In your climate you could have given them half undrawn combs. The balance of the frames and almost all the brood capped and otherwise goes above the division board along with the queen. This is Snelgroves Method 2. All the flying bees will leave the upper box to return to the box below.

The lower box will not swarm because their population makeup and not queen does not meet swarm conditions. The upper box will lose all its flying bees immediately as they return to the bottom box so it will not be able to swarm. The door diversions continue to bleed off bees to the bottom box shortly after they orient so the upper box wont reach swarm conditions either.

Not untill the lower box makes and mates a queen and develops a crowed brood condition, can swarm conditions occur. This should take you past swarm season.

Only once, when I left too many resources with the bottom box I discovered they were getting ready to swarm a few weeks later. In my climate I do not have to impoverish the bottom box as much to prevent swarming as you should do in your location.

In a location with a long lush conditions and no summer drought you probably might have to do the second second Snelgrove division but I think that does not apply to either of us.;)

I have used the Snelgrove system for quite a few years. My situation makes swarms a very bad idea too.
 

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Vance G,

Question on your Post #4 above: In the second paragraph of your description where you say "Put two supers on top of parent colony" , Question: are those two supers void of frames or are they full of frames containing drawn comb for the bees to occupy and utilize?

Thanks,
Steve
 

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I'm intrigued.

Does the method described by Vance have a name?

Does it affect honey production?
 

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"Swarm within a hive"
 

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I saved Vances method as the “Vance g method”

I have been using the Snelgrove board but will try this on at least one colony this year. Thank you Vance.
 

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One screen on each side of the board creates enough distance between them to keep the bees on one side from feeding or sharing queen pheremones. Through a single screen they can swap chewing gum with ease;) It is supposed to more definitely trigger the sense of queenlessness and starting of cells. A single screen would be more like an excluder which does not always work at first go. Have never had the double screen division board fail to initiate starting of queen cells.
 
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