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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay so here's the background I'm STARTING to go commercial have 40 production colonies so far plus 20t hat are my dad's and I hope to have 100 nucs by this fall that a local is making for me like I said this is only the start but considering that the big guys here only run up to 400 hives I'm not that far off so my big question is how do I keep them from swarming ? Normally I would make a nuc with the old queen to ease their impulse but what technique is best to use when you have so many hives ....I guess it just boils down to How do you commercial fella‘s keep the hives from entering swarm mode and if their already there how do you change them back to a more productive mode? Hope I made myself understood and sorry about such a loooong question :) any answers are greatly appreciated thx
 

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We run 5500. Check bottoms of brood boxes regularly. Super to give more room
Or pull brood over and over and over, by that time it's end of honey flow.
 

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we were running to hundred hives in the 90's and we would crack the supers every week to check for peanuts and go through hives that had cells and smear them. thats not bad when there are only a few hives that had swarm cells in each yard. it's still a lot of work to just checking for swarm cells. Once the main flow started the swarming impulse seemed to go away and we would stop checking. we would end up doing 5-6 cell checks in a season.

I'm now adopting the demaree method because it serves the purpose of requeening while still maintaining a colonies population to produce honey. Making a nuc off the strongest ones to sell later or to just keep and divide again and overwinter to replace dead outs.

If pollination is your goal then the options might be better because you don't need colonies that are X amount of honey supers high (big population) so you could rip nucs and sell them and/or increase to supply more contracts or replace dead out...and if you pollinate, you will have dead outs. I myself would stick with honey production in areas away from major monoculture.
 

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Will,
When you use the Demaree method do you have to use a double screen? And do you remove the old queen or just let the two fight it out?
 

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Hi Emanuel, swarm control and spring management generally is in my view the most complex part of beekeeping so you ask a good question.

What kind of hives do you use, langstroth or a different design? And how many brood boxes and do you use queen excluders?
 

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OK well sounds like you are using the same gear as the other people who posted so their advise is good.

Swarming season is the busiest time for most beekeepers so you have to use a method that is fast. I use 2 boxes for the brood nest so what I do is tilt the top brood box backwards and look along the bottom bars and bottom of the combs for queen cells, if there are none the hive is closed again, but if there is some I have to go through the whole hive.

If a 2 brood box hive is going to swarm, then along the bottom bars of the second box is the easiest place for them to build queen cells, it is central brood nest, plus there is room for the cells, so they will build them there. If there are none there it is pretty safe to close the hive down. Once you find cells you have to check the rest of the hive as there will likely be some elsewhere also. But just killing the queen cells will not do much by itself because the bees will straight away build new ones, it is also necessary to resolve whatever is causing the bees to want to swarm , which is mostly about spreading things out, giving the queen more room to lay, removing some combs of brood to give to other weaker colonies, or splitting the hive if need be.

But there is a whole lot to know, more than can be written in a few posts, books have been written on it. You could look up checkerboarding which talks about some interesting ideas.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Checkerboarding sounds interesting might try it when I have more drawn comb how would swarm management differ since I'm more migratory than other folks that keep their hives in one place
 

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Emanuel;

My bees are really strong this spring and I caught my first swarm Saturday, unfortunately. The honey flow is 2 weeks away so what I am doing is this: When I find swarm cells on my 2 deep hives I immediately split them 3 ways. I have to find the old queen, and she and 3 frames of brood and some bees go to a new bottom board and I feed them. One deep stays on the original bottom and they get a queen cell (I have them ready every Saturday this time of year) so I can control the queen and speed things up. They then get an excluder and 2-3 honey supers. The second hive body gets moved and it gets an excluder and a couple of honey supers. This way the colony 'swarms' but I control it and keep the bees. I still try to make honey off the splits and I can recombine them after the honey flow if I don't want more hives. If I can't find the old queen, and this is true sometimes, I give all 3 splits a cell and move on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I've done that before wglord but I was hoping to find a method that wouldn't involve spliting the hive my main flow is 3 weeks away and some are starting to get crowded no queen cells yet but don't want them to swarm before the main flow
 

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We re queen most of our hives annually. Big difference in swarming between young and old queens. Put those supers on early and give them room to store nectar. A day or 2 of back filling in the broodnest will have your hives in the trees. Easy to underestimate how much early nectar is coming in.
 

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I am not sure if this is a good swarm prevention method or not but I intend on having some drawn comb ready to insert like the "checkerboard" method and remove enough honey frames to keep them from using the brood nest for storing honey/nectar. I also will be making increase off of any hives that are too strong to manage, using the honey from the hives I had to remove it from. I will be putting in mated queens this year in the splits to keep things in production mode because our season is short and I want to have brood factories for splitting the nucs again and letting the nuc splits raise their own queens .

Does this sound good ? I know everyone has different methods but this will be mine.
 

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Will,
When you use the Demaree method do you have to use a double screen? And do you remove the old queen or just let the two fight it out?
Jon, I have a single screen that attaches to the inner cover. The bottom broodnest w/old queen has an excluder and honey super above it, so the excluder and single screen basically add up to double screen. this way the bees can still communicated and share food through the screen. the innercover is turned upside down so the vent hole is the top units entrance and faces the back side of the colony. the queen in the bottom is given 2 frames of brood. i'll be killing her (old queen) before I put the unit back together. I want to let the old queen in the bottom and the new queen up on top lay as much as they can together before uniting to get as much brood as i can before the flow starts.

although i've done various versions of this before, i'm still working out the bugs. I think this will turn golden for me this year.
 
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