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Help, trying to prevent a swarm

Location: Canada.
Weather: Just turned to summer (snow was on the ground last week)
My Problem: One hive survived the winter quite well with two deep boxes, FULL of bees.

I know I have an almost 100% chance of a swarm but I don’t wish to split the hive as I do not wish to manage another hive. I’ve went into the hive and replaced a couple of frames full of honey with empty foundation with the hope this gives them something to work on. We will have a crop of spring flowers next week, my though is is adding a super on top today with the hope of avoiding a swarm.

Let me know your thoughts if I have any chance of keeping all these bees.


You lost other hives? Or other hives did not do well.
If you only have the one hive and as you say the broods are full, wack on the Flow super.
If you have a weak hive which has survived you can swap some full frames with brood, (with nurse bees)to the week hive to strengthen it. This may delay your super till hive regains full strength again.

My other hive (I have two hives) has survived normally, it should pick up nice. Its looking good this year as long as I can keep the crowed hive from blowing up. Adding a super is what I thought would help, I’ll give it a shot. Thanks! I’ll let all know how it worked. Cheers,


Are they preparing Queen cells?

I did check, no queen cells ready as of a couple of days ago.

That’s good. Means you have time. As advised, I would get the super on ASAP to give them more space. If there are any full frames of honey in the brood box take them out and store them for later use and replace them with empty frames toward the centre of the box so the Queen has more space to lay.

If you’re worried about maintaining another hive and you have some spare kit, maybe consider the Demaree method of swarm control. I use this method all the time with great success. There is a great write up here regarding this method. http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/demaree.html

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Thanks a bunch, I’ll study it. Putting super on shortly.

Read your thread and to reduce swarming you need to make more room in the hive and give them work to do.
You also have to accept that swarming is going to happen sooner or later if you don’t do preemptive swarm splits, it is a natural thing that bees do(swarming), sure you can put if off by giving the hive more space and jobs to do but you won’t stop it.
A good option is to take a split off the strong hive into a new hive and sell it. Another option is to take capped frames off the strong hive and switch them with empty frames from the weaker hive to balance both the hives.

Hi Gerry, you can prevent a swarm in the vast majority of cases. It entails doing preemptive swarm control splits. It buys about 3 weeks of time before it needs doing again. Most times twice is enough, however be prepared for a third one. This all depends on bee genetics & how young the queen is, not to mention available forage.

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Is this right Jeff? Each hive has to be split at least twice each spring to prevent swarming? Is that irrespective whether there there are queen cells?

Hi Boo, the “preemptive” part of it means you try to get in before they start making preparations to swarm. If you can do that, you’ll be right for a few weeks as long as you do what I do & remove most of the sealed brood when taking the split. Taking the sealed brood is the main key because you’re removing all the new bees that would have emerged over the next 10 or twelve days. That puts an instant stop to the population growth, coupled with fresh foundation frames the colony has to rebuild, that postpones the colonies desire to swarm for at least 3 weeks. While the population growth has been temporarily halted, natural mortality will still occur within the colony, adding weight to the fact that the bees wont swarm for a few weeks.

In the mean time, while the colony is rebuilding the brood frames, the bees that were producing honey will continue to do so…

While this is happening, I like to use a single brood box with a single honey super, however I try to keep the honey super from getting full of bees. I like to keep it at about 75-80%, which gives the bees room to expand into, coupled with the hive mat & migratory lid.

As soon as I see bees in the migratory lid building up & doing nothing, or even if the honey super looks full of bees, I’ll think about a preemptive swarm control split.



Jeff’s splitting strategy is probably one of the most sure ways there is of preventing a swarm or at least reducing the likelihood to a minimum. I myself have failed more than once - thinking I could get away with just adding a super and removing a few outer frames of honey… I have learned in the long run- a hive that has been ‘weakened out’ to use Jeff’s phrase- will end up far stronger over a season than a hive that has swarmed.

However taking multiple splits every spring is not for everyone: if it was hive numbers increase exponentially and no one could sell any nucs!

Another rather advanced option might be to try The Demaree Method- I intend to try this out myself on a few hives next spring:


Thanks @JeffH and @Semaphore. That’s was very informative. I need the watch that video a few more times it looks a bit too advanced for me at this stage but will probably have to use if we don’t find buyers for our nucs.

Hi Boo, we’ll be going into spring at roughly the same time. I’ll be able to share what I’m doing when the time comes.

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Thanks everyone for your valuable input. I don’t wish to split at this time and will use some of the methods described here, hopefully the swarm will be delayed somewhat. I’ll put out a spare kit (A flow hive as a matter of fact) and if anybody swarms perhaps I can catch them, it would be fun to watch them swarm to a nearby vacant hive…if that is possible.

Due to the virus panic, Canada has banned imports of nuc colonies, and the pressure on local bee keepers producing and selling nucs made from their own splits is high. Same with the price per nuc.

Cheers, G

Thanks Jeff, I’ll be watching.

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Hi & you’re welcome Boo. Something I forgot to mention was when I do the split, I take it well away so that the adult bees don’t return.

What I’m achieving before they start preparing to swarm is reduce the population #1 & #2, remove most of the next generation for the next 10-12 days.

In doing so I’m checking under every queen cup for eggs etc. If I see the bees making preparations to swarm, I’ll get heavier handed with the split. I never leave any queen cells on frames in the splits. I always let splits make emergency queens. That will in most cases prevent the split from swarming. Sometimes the splits need splitting after they have the queen cells made. A spring buildup can be a busy time if you’re trying to prevent swarming.


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I went through the hive today, an impressive amount of brood present, mostly in larvae stage and quite a bit of capped brood as well. Both deeps full. Found no swarm cells nor drone cells either. I added a deep super and will check it in a few days to see if they’ve taken it. The first flowers are coming out.

The frame with the queen and all the bees around her goes into the new brood box. But what else is in brood box containing the queen, empty drawn comb? I can see how this works, and may try it if I spot swarm cells.