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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Some beeks, including Michael Bush, talk about there being an approximately month long window for the swarm impulse in the individual hive (though I know the swarm season as a whole lasts a few months), and that if you've done a swarm prevention split, once you get the bees past that window, there's little chance of swarming. What are the markers for this?
 

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Hi Karen
We have a local bee club and we post information to our email list constantly. Everybody is pretty much alert to swarming when it starts. This kind of information sharing makes beekeeping even more interesting, because of the sense of of community.

In our area (Upstate NY) , which is probably not much different from yours, swarms usually start to issue around May 15 and the seasonal peak is May 25. It would then continue to about July 10. This year we seem to be about two weeks later than that.

There is another surge in August, especially from the 20th till about Sept 5. Here's a graph: Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 4.56.50 PM.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Peter Loring, I know that season of swarms. But Michael Bush specifically mentions that a single hive may have a month long window during which the decision to start swarming or not will be made, and after that they're pretty much settled in. This is more what I'm trying to learn about. Once a hive starts prepping to swarm, there may be nothing you can do to stop them, and once the first swarm happens, they may swarm multiple times, of course. I think Michael and Walt Weldon are doing some research on the swarming impulse of individual hives.
 

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But Michael Bush specifically mentions that a single hive may have a month long window during which the decision to start swarming or not will be made, and after that they're pretty much settled in.
I think that's pretty much made up whole cloth. And how would you go about studying such a thing, let alone proving it?

Nobody even knows how the decision to swarm is made, anyway; let alone what rules apply to it.

Pete
 

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not very true, much longer than 1 month window. Perhaps peak is 1 month. Our first swarms started beginning of April, very good maple flow. Its now almost 2 months later and we are still catching swarms, peak is right now. If rain keeps up I expect swarming to continue thru June then stop until fall flow. Cinci will be very similar to Louisville, perhaps slightly cooler so week or two delay.

Swarm season looks like this perhaps there is a peak sometime in april then a lull and peak again when locust/poplar/clover kick in, intensity is totally dependent on weather and bloom timing ie flow.

Swarm Occurence Pic
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Guess I need to clarify, so I edited the post. I did not mean swarm season lasts a month, but that the individual hive has a window for deciding to swarm or not, and according to Bush and Weldon observations, they assert that it appears to last about a month.
 

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Karan,
My swarm season should be the same as yours, it begins around the middle of April and ends around the middle of May, you are not that far from me location wise as I live right along side the Ohio river. I understand what you are asking and can tell you that there is a period of 3 weeks, May 1 through May 21 when the swarm urge is at its peek, yes bees can swarm before this time frame but these 3 weeks are when the urge to swarm is strongest, after these 3 weeks the swarm urge drops off sharply and I no longer concern myself with it. One must be proactive and begin swarm control measures at least a month prior to this 3 week time frame to curtail swarming and then it isn't always 100% effective, You can expect 10% to 20% of the hives to swarm even with your best efforts. Different locations have differing time frames for swarming and this must also be considered.

The markers I use are on the calender, the bees seem to follow it quite closely, however there are signs inside the hive as well such as lack of drawn comb for the queen to lay, back filling etc, but I am not the type to be doing two months of weekly inspections of the brood area in all my hives and I never split for swarm control. The 1st of April I place the brood nest in the bottom deep position and give them all the room they will need for brooding in the checkerboarded second and third deeps then place the supers on top, this gives me super strong well populated hives for the spring flow....I hope this helps. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Bill, thanks for your thoughts. I have a couple of followup questions. First: you open the brood nest at the beginning of April - I'm always hesitant to go in that early because of the big temperature swings we have , out of concern for chilling the brood. How do you deal with that. This year was a case in point: some pretty cold snaps and also lingering cooler than usual nights. The other question has to do with consolidating your hives at the end of the season. Sounds like you go back to either single or double deep for the winter. What do you with the extra frames that no doubt are partially filled with honey, and also probably have pollen in them, by fall. I haven't quite got the knack yet for consolidating hives, since frames are always partially filled.
 

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Karen,
I don't open the brood nest it stays together in one brood box and is placed in the bottom position, the 2nd and 3rd deeps are checkerboarded above the nest. The temperature swings don't concern me since the population is large enough at this time to keep the brood warm, however there are times of extreem cold when I see a few white pupae being removed from a hive but it only amounts to a few that got chilled at the outer edge of the nest.

I consolidate the hives into a 2 deep configuration for winter, any hives needing stores in their second deeps is supplied from the frames in the third deeps then I extract the rest of the third deep frames. After extraction I stack these third deeps outside for a day and let all the bees have a hay day picking them clean. These third deeps are then placed back on the hives either above the inner cover or on the bottom of the stack in first box position, and stored there all winter. Any pollen or capped honey left in them isn't a problem, it's no different than any of the other honey or pollen in the hive.

The third deeps are on the hives year around to keep the wax moths out of them, the bees take better care of the comb than I can. During spring and summer they are in use and during fall and winter they are being stored.

If I can be of more help let me know.....Bill :)
 

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Guess I need to clarify, so I edited the post. I did not mean swarm season lasts a month, but that the individual hive has a window for deciding to swarm or not, and according to Bush and Weldon observations, they assert that it appears to last about a month.
I have 2 questions for you.

If a hive decides not to swarm in april, but then a big flow its in May, it decided not to swarm in april so what does it do?

If a hive swarms in april will it swarm again in May or June?
 

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burns,
If a hive commits to swarming in April then it will swarm, once a hive commits to swarming there isn't much you can do to stop it outside of splitting the hive by removing the queen along with half of the workers to another location which simulates a swarm. At his point to prevent after swarms one must go through the hive with the queen and remove all swarm cells, then go through the new hive and remove all queen cells leaving just 2 for re-queening. It is always best to try and keep a hive from committing to swarm in the first place unless you are wanting more hives.

A hive that swarms in April can swarm again in May if the conditions in the hive are right to do so, swarming in June is always a possibility as well however a small one.
 
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