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Swarm control in late summer

It’s summer here in Northern NSW Australia. My bees for the first time in 3years are starting to hang on the front of the brood box. There are bees on every flow frame.

They may be planning mini swam. I recall (I think) Cedar writing about a late February mini swarm. Does anyone remember that? I don’t want the bees to swarm. And i wouldn’t want to split the hive. To stop the swarm should i remove one frame of brood?

A mini swarm? As far as I know, bees issue a primary swarm, which will be half the bees including the old queen. Sometimes a caste swarm will issue with another half. If a second caste swarm issues with another half, that means the original population will be reduced to 12.5%. A second caste swarm could be classified as a “mini swarm”.

It’s best to keep on top of brood inspections so that the frames are easy to inspect if/when we see bearding so that we can manipulate the brood in order to prevent swarming.

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Have you inspected for queen cells? If there aren’t any, they are just bearding or hanging out. :blush: If there are queen cells, something more active may need to be done.

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I haven’t inspected the brood yet and hope to do so on Saturday. I can’t do it before then. I’ll look out for the queen cells.

I’ve just got my flow frames back in and SHB under control and am loathe to open it up now. I promised myself and the bees that i wouldn’t harvest until all the flow frames where full so as to give the bees a good chance to clean out the remainder of the black mould in the frames (which by the way they are not doing).

It may simply have been hot, but there are alot of bees!

When a colony swarms it involves about 1/2 of the hive leaving the hive. The first of these events is a primary swarm when you will loose the highest number of bees.
As your profile says you have one flow hive and a nuc I guess you could take a frame of brood from the flow hive and fit it into the nuc removing an unused frame or a frame of honey from the nuc and that will boost the nuc, that said it won’t take much time till the nuc will need a full sized hive.
When I do a split the bees go straight into a full sized 8 frame box.
Cheers Catarina

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That’s a good idea. I might try that.

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You could harvest a few frames of brood with eggs and put in nuc. They will make a queen and you will have a queen bank. Another option is do the above but give nuc the queen. Have the hive make new queen. This will give hive a short brood break. This will reduce numbers and often increase honey production. If queen doesn’t make it back from mating flight you could reintroduce the original queen and let nuc make a queen. Nice to have a few queens around in case you need one.

My flow hive was set up with a nuc in feb 2018 in south Gippsland Victoria. In December the flow frames filled and a good deal of honey has been taken out, but much remains. At present, or as of three weeks ago the bees have covered the front and side of the hive and were bearding below the entrance. At night time they seem to disappear, I guess back inside. I have a spare brood box with empty frames sitting beside the hive but the bees have not shown any interest in setting up a new hive in it. I would like to take advantage of the huge bee population to establish another brood box without knowing how to go about this.

Hello @Tony1, welcome to the Flow forum.

If your current brood box is completely full, you consider doing what is called a “split”. The only problem is that you are heading into winter, and splits are normally done in spring. Depending on your climate and nectar flow, you may be able to do one at this time of year, as @JeffH does in QLD, but I suspect that you are a good deal cooler. If you split, you are weakening the hive, and going into winter with a weak hive is not a good idea.

With all of that in mind, how would you do a simple split?

  1. Inspect the brood box and make sure that the hive is producing drones. Splitting the hive will make a new queen, and if there are drones in your hive, it is likely that there will be other drones in the neighborhood for her to mate with. If you don’t have drones, don’t split.
  2. Count how many frames of brood, honey and pollen are in the hive. Take out half of each type and put it into the new hive. I like to transfer the queen into the new hive too, to give it a good start. The old hive will have foragers returning to it, but the new hive will not get as many foragers for a couple of weeks. Keep the brood frames in the center, pollen frames next and honey on the outside. Fill any remaining space with frames of foundation, drawn comb or foundationless frames if you wish.
  3. Consider moving the new hive at least 3km away. That way, any foragers will not return to the old hive. After a month or so, you can move it back.

That is a very simple way to do a split, but there are lots of other ways. Here are two very good booklets with a lot of information and graphics on what to do. One of them is quite a large document, so you may need to be patient while it downloads:


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Hi Tony, I agree with everything that Dawn has said. You need to read those links that Dawn provided & learn a whole lot more about bee culture. You could consider joining a bee club & find a mentor. You would need to understand the complex process the bees would go through before they would possibly move into that empty brood box full of frames.

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thank you Dawn, thank you Jeff.

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Welcome to the forum Tony, there is lots of reading and valuable help here for all levels of bee keeping. @Dawn_SD and @JeffH have given you sound advice so I will only say that with winter coming that would be my only concern.
A period of bearding in the late afternoon and evening in very hot weather is just bees hanging outside of the hive which helps to lower the cluster and brood temperature and shouldn’t be taken as a given that the hive is becoming overcrowded.
When I do a split both of the hives stay at the apiary side by side, after 24 hours having done the spit I reverse the positions of the two hives, that will balance out the foraging bees to make both of the hives more equal.
Cheers