SWARMING

  1. Problems from swarming
    1. Reduces the worker force
    2. Hive that swarms may not make any surplus honey
    3. Sometimes the swarm is not recovered
    4. Valuable queens can be lost
    5. There may be after-swarms which further reduces the worker force
  2. Factors that may lead to swarming (“Suggested”)
    1. Overcrowded hive
      1. Congestion of the brood area or lack of egg laying space
      2. Increased adult bee numbers creating more heat
      3. Less Queen pheromones
    2. Colonies with an older queen (more than 2 years old)
    3. Genetics (requeen)
  3. Indications of swarming
    1. Laying drone eggs
    2. Drawing queen cup cells
    3. Rearing larva in the queen cups (this is a major step in swarming)
    4. Early spring and a mild winter
    5. Plenty of food stores and a good honey flow
  4. Timing of hive inspections
    1. A queen cell emerges from her cell ≈16 days after being an egg.  Weather permitting, the swarm will issue before the virgin queens emerge.  If you inspect your hives every 7 to 9 days, a swarm wouldn’t have a chance to issue.
  5. Swarm Prevention
    1. Reverse the brood boxes
    2. Reorganize the frames in the brood area to provide more egg laying room
      1. Place the empty frames in the center of the box
      2. Add another brood box if your hive only has one brood box
    3. Make a split or nuc
    4. Equalize colonies
    5. Replace the old Queen
    6. Add honey supers (add them sooner than later)
    7. Extract the honey (this encourages more foraging)
    8. Clip one of the Queens wings (some beekeepers don’t like this)
    9. Switch colonies to equalize the population
      1. A strong and weak colonies location can be switched.
      2. The field force from the strong colony can increase the population of the weaker colony
  6. For last minute prevention
    1. Destroy all the queen cells (you have to check every frame and not miss even one cell)
    2. Remove or cage the Queen (caging the Queen would be a last resort).

From the notes of Richard Farrier.

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