Lets discuss swarm control

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skydragon 

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Not a topic to be actually using right now in UK... but a good time of year to discuss and debate swarm control whilst we have these long dark nights and can sit back and think what works and what doesn't, the do-os and don'ts.

So... those with experience.

a) What do you do to try and prevent swarming as general 'bee management' methods (eg. OMF, larger BB, replacing Q every 2nd year, bee strain selection etc)?

b) Next April/May when you are doing an inspection on a hive and you first notice a sealed swarm cell on a frame...what do you do to prevent swarming and what do you expect to happen?

c) experiences of when methods have worked really well...or really badly

A healthy discussion on swarm control would I feel really asist alot of the members (inc me) and make sure we are all prepared for next spring ;-)
 

oliver90owner 

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a) Enough space for bees, eggs and honey.

I have my mongrels and they are good, but strain is important.

b) Too late they have already gone! Need action befoere the cells ara capped. One is very lucky to catch them between capping and swarming unless the weather is grotty.

c) Standard A/S methods. No special boards, spread brood BEFORE they make swarm preparations. If swarm cells, A/S immediately is my advice for a beginner.

There are no secrets. You just need the kit ready and waiting, so not a rush to buy/build things!

Much better for you to be in control, than always having to catch or even chase the bees!

Regards, RAB
 

drstitson 

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swarm control

I like the look/sound of the swarm control solution offered by rooftops in his poly hives - let the colony get on with mechanics of day to day living whilst preventing queens and drones leaving until the two queens have sorted things out amongst themselves.
 

mbc 

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a, overdo the supers from may till the end of june
b, AS when cells are first spotted being built ( charged cells with larvae in them )
c, leave lots of bait hives about
 

oliver90owner 

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Yup! Just easier to remove and refit daily, to allow passage for drones. One rarely gets a swarm early in the morning or very late in the afternoon.

Regards, RAB
 

Hivemaker. 

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Entrance fitting swarm traps have been around for decades,one design holds two empty brood combs in a box above the entrance,after they have swarmed you simply remove these combs to another box....complete with queen and bee's of course.
 

psafloyd 

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a, overdo the supers from may till the end of june
b, AS when cells are first spotted being built ( charged cells with larvae in them )
c, leave lots of bait hives about
What do you mean by charged cells?
 

skydragon 

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Can you give more detail about 'standard AS methods' or 'AS'

Exactly what AS process do you follow, what triggers it and what concludes it?
 

oliver90owner 

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Can you give more detail about 'standard AS methods' or 'AS'

One presumes that will be just like as expained/described in Hooper - unless he got that wrong, too.

You can trigger it if you want to be in control. Just don't expect it to work well on a tiny colony. Waiting for swarm cells is just a tad too late to be in total control.

Regards, RAB
 

mbc 

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Can you give more detail about 'standard AS methods' or 'AS'

Exactly what AS process do you follow, what triggers it and what concludes it?
A very clear description of the standard AS is given in " Bees at the bottom of the garden" by Alan Campion, an excellent beginners book.
The trigger is charged cells as mentioned earlier
 

skydragon 

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Thanks, I've read through the normal booklist, but wanted to double check that's what beeks in UK actually use in real practice. For example there is the 'normal' AS method, of splitting and moving the hive, etc a la Hooper, but equally there are other methods published which claim to have some benefits eg. Demaree method (claims to keep the colony in one hive, thereby not disrupting honey production.

To double check another point - On the subject of a trigger for AS, are you saying that ripping down a loaded QC, is not an effective swarm control measure and that as soon as you see a loaded QC that you must AS?
 
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oliver90owner 

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ripping down a loaded QC, is not an effective swarm control measure

Too late. They will simply continue to make queen cells; so no it is definitely not even a swarm control method, let alone effective.

You are being controlled by the bees at that point - you have no alternative but to take remedial action at that point, or risk losing a swarm in perhaps as little as 3 or 4 days time. The bees are dictating the actions necessary.

Regards, RAB
 

mbc 

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To double check another point - On the subject of a trigger for AS, are you saying that ripping down a loaded QC, is not an effective swarm control measure and that as soon as you see a loaded QC that you must AS?

No. If everyone did an AS every time they saw a queen cell charged there wouldn't be a spare hive in the country. I guess that a little bit of discretion is used by most beekeepers , what I tend to do myself is mix and match management options according to what equipment I have available and what I 'read' from the bees.
Ripping down loaded queen cells is an effective swarm control measure if you can be sure you haven't missed any but its only ever a temporary measure on its own, however coupled with taking away a bit of strength or adding a bit more space or large numbers of foragers dieing through sheer hard work then loosing swarms without having to do an AS can be avoided.
 

Skyhook 

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To double check another point - On the subject of a trigger for AS, are you saying that ripping down a loaded QC, is not an effective swarm control measure and that as soon as you see a loaded QC that you must AS?
I've been told by experienced beeks thatyou can remove QC's on 2 subsequent inspections, and they may give up on the idea. If they build them a third time they really mean it.
 

Hivemaker. 

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I've been told by experienced beeks thatyou can remove QC's on 2 subsequent inspections, and they may give up on the idea. If they build them a third time they really mean it.
You can also break down queen cells once,and three or four days later they swarm,having produced more sealed cells.
 

oliver90owner 

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I was writing similar to hivemaker re swarming after only 3 or 4 days. He is spot on. Good weather and they can be gone early on a 3 day old larva.

If you don't want increase, you A/S then unite (after the daughter queen has proved herself for the traits you require). If not satisfactory, reunite with the old queen and try again! The colony is less likely to swarm a second time in a season if headed by a young queen. Not guaranteed, so regular checks are still required.

Being in control of the process allows one to insert a frame from a better queen at the first stage. Lots of options, choices and such-like.

Single colony - split early and get that second colony established and well prepared for over-wintering, and strong enough before the wasps get around, is my advice.

Multiple colonies - the beekeeper can become a better beekeeper with better bees, so much more easily. More experience and more confidence. Also, by then you should know how to get out of a pickle!

Regards, RAB
 

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