Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
298 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been reading a lot this week about swarm control but I don't see a clear path. This is year 4 for me and one of my priorities is to stay ahead of swarming.

Here's the details: I have 13 hives. Six of them are very large double deeps and each has around 9-10 frames of brood in all stages--some frames are almost completely capped brood, some are combinations of eggs, larvae, and capped. The hives already have lots of bees. No queen cells yet. All of the hives have a couple of light frames on the sides where the bees have eaten their stores (feed syrup???). One hive seems to have some backfilling--or anyway what little nectar there is now in empty cells among the brood. These hives are honey producers.


The other 7 hives are smaller, some single deeps, some doubles but smaller populations and fewer frames of brood. I am going to split these hives aggressively this season as I want increase as well. I'll be building them up.

I have a lot of empty drawn deep comb and spare deep frames with honey.

Dandelion, plum and apple have all come out at roughly the same time--a warm January/February and a cold, snowy, and wet March messed with the bloom. The main flow isn't here yet. My supers seem like they never have much honey until after mid-july. It's an odd pattern here I think.

So I think I have a few options: equalizing/distributing, or nuc splits, or adding a third deep, or opening the brood nest.

They all seem viable to me, but I feel confused about which would be best for avoiding swarms and keeping strong producers.

Weather--we're in a warmer phase now with highs projected in the 60s and low 70s, lows in the mid to lower 40s.

Sorry about the elaborate detail, just trying to give you a picture. Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
572 Posts
I think timing is everything in swarm control. When I see back filling I get concerned.

The definitive control measure IMO is a split or splits....really, IMO, splits are just a controlled swarm.

If you have not read Walt Wright’s manuscript...available in the stickies above, you should. One technique he touts is checker boarding the honey cap. I do this and it seems to work and if nothing else buys time. This year has been working and no swarm cells yet. I also practice vertical splits by using a snelgrove board but others methods work well also with some more reliable than others...like splitting with a queen or queen cell vs letting them raise a queen. There are so many ways to split with differences and nuances to each.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
495 Posts
Two components for me for swarm control:
1. Selecting against bees that swarm despite good management (see #2 for that). I do not use those queens to replace the swarmed hive - I cull queen cells there and either graft from one which did not swarm or I just put a frame of eggs from one which did not swarm. Assuming both were similar strength, had honey supers, were making or made honey... In OH, we get a strong enough fall flow that some bees can get triggered to swarm, and I have seen success with fewer swarming in fall with selecting against those who did last year, and did that spring despite management to prevent swarming.

2. Enough space, (and bees only count drawn comb as space), and NO HONEY DOME above the queen. It is April, snowing, 2 days ago was 60, 2 days from now will be again, then more snow... u get the idea. No nectar for awhile still. And yet I have supers on all my strong hives. No, not expecting miracle honey - the boxes are full of bees, and every frame of brood becomes 2 frames of bees. So they need space. So I gave them space. The honey supers have drawn comb - bees are often not going to draw out comb once the nectar starts, because the nights will often be too chilly.

I don't use double deeps, but if I did, I would make sure there were 3-4 frames of capped brood in the top. Then I would put a queen excluder. Then I would super for honey with drawn comb. That way the bees will have a break in the "honey dome" above the brood nest, and they will know they can store honey up there - because of the drawn comb. Bees don't count undrawn comb as space.

If I did not have drawn honey supers, I would split. I don't think it's realistic to expect any bee to not swarm when the brood chamber has all frames covered with bees and there are lots of capped brood frames.

Good luck!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
298 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Orthoman and Trish, I agree that splitting is the most effective way of stopping swarming. But it also cuts down on hiney production. I suppose small nuc splits--a frame or two out of ten frames of brood-- wouldn't be that hindrance.

Space, of course, is the usual go to. I might just super all these hive right now and keep a close eye on them. I have mediums with drawn comb so it's do-able.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
572 Posts
Drawn comb for sure. Read up on Snelgrove boards and Walt Wright’s techniques as I mentioned. A split is a lot better than losing a swarm. Enjambes use to post a lot here but not sure if she still does. She used snelgrove boards, I believe.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
298 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have used Snelgrove boards a couple of times. It wasn't super successful for me, but I've only tried it twice. I will take one with me this afternoon when I go to check my largest hive. One thing I like about the snelgrove at this time of year is that the split can stay warm, the foragers go back, and brood is removed. Yes, Nancy/Enjembres is eloqouent on the subject of the snelgrove.

Thanks for the reminder.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,558 Posts
Here is a method called radical method of swarm control. I bet it would work but not many would do it. It is interesting though to consider why it is effective. What things important to bees motivation is triggered. Something in that regard might be found. https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=...original.pdf&usg=AOvVaw2Bxe9esKho3_Aqa_OzXEwv

In the same way that understanding why Snelgroves different methods do as they do is much more value than just memorizing the rituals of the diversion doors.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,128 Posts
If you have enough Drawn Comb, you can use OSBN with Drawn Comb instead of Foundation.
If you want more Drawn Comb, then use Foundation as per the method:

Opening the Sides of the Brood Nest

Main points -
During Swarm Season:

  • Place undrawn/empty comb frames on the outer edges of the Brood Nest.
  • Trigger wax making with a Partial Foundation/Foundationless Frame.
  • Maintain at least 2 undrawn/empty comb frames in every box throughout Swarm Season.
  • Move honey frames up and out of the Brood Box(es).
  • Can start as soon as Drones are being raised.
* This assumes that the hive is looking nearly full, healthy and has a few frames of honey stores.

Also, don't feed in swarm season as there are plenty of resources available (That's why it is swarm season.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
298 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Matt, Thanks for the clarification on OSBN. I figure that was more or less the case.

FiveJ and Crofter--Thanks for the references. I have enjoyed reading some of the older books on beekeeping (Manley and Miller), and so will dive into this article as well.

Here's what I'm doing: I've placed empty drawn comb net to the brood nest. In one case where brood was still only in the top box I reversed. The other hives,brood is divided more or less evenly between top and bottom, so no reversing there. And I'm placing supers with drawn comb on as well. On my largest hive, I left a super on all winter as the hive was already so large, even in November. I added another super that that hive. No queen cells in any hives; some have a few dry queen cups. I will add an open or partial open frame to open the brod nest if necessary as things progress.

I'll be checking for cells every 5-7 days. I may do Snelgrove splits on a couple of them in the coming weeks. I re-read nancy's posts often--so much great information.

Today, I'll be looking at my smaller hives and creating a plan for them. I'm going to try grafting this year for the first time, this week I hope, and that will change my splitting possibilities as well.

I think I'm behind on all of this stuff, but the weather has been crazy. In mid-march it snowed for almost 10 days straight, accumulating about 3 feet total. Lows are predicted down to 30F over the next two weeks, even though the highs will be in 60s and 70s. The mountain climate always has big night to day temperature swings in the spring, summer, and fall. It's in the spring where the unpredictability and temperature variation really makes working with the bees exciting.
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top