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Swarm control without doing a split?


#1

After next week I will have 5 hives. I really only wanted 4 but I am ok with 5. All my hives will have double deep brood boxes and then will have the flow frames on top of the 2 brood boxes. Hive #5 I will not have the flow frames on and use it to generate honey for the other 4 for winter.

My question is how do you prevent/manage swarming when I do not want to start a new hive? I know bees will do what they want in the end, but if I see swarm cells, should I just let them swarm? If I keep the flow frames from being completely full what are my chances they will still swarm at some point? Should I pull frames of brood and discard just to keep space and population under control?

I do have a cousin that may want some more bees so I may have a source to give a split to. Otherwise, how should I managing swarming without doing a split?

Joe


#2

Split, let the new queen start laying so that you can evaluate her worth. Keep the best queen, killing the other and re-unite the two splits.
Or just let them go. The problem with that is they take lots of honey with them and a strong colony won’t stop at just the one swarm


#3

What @Dee said - split, then recombine later. You can even recombine at the end of the season, so that your hives are nice and strong going into winter.


#4

I’m trying 2 methods this year - artificial swarm and tearing down swarm cells.

I removed my queen from the Flow Hive upon finding several capped swarm cells. I moved her to a nuc with a frame of food and 2 frames of brood. I also shook an extra frame of bees in with her. I tore down all but the three best-looking swarm cells.

For my other over-wintered colony I’ve been tearing down queen cells. It is tedious and I have to be extra vigilant when looking for cells as missing one means swarm.

I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.


#5

Hi Joe, I would do preemptive swarm control measures. That is: split before they start preparing to swarm if you can manage it. Swarming is how bees reproduce. It’s inevitable. It’s not too bad of a problem if you end up with too many colonies:) Bee colonies are very salable.


#6

Hi Jeff, how often would you do a re-unite in percentage terms? I guess it depends on a lot of things but can you generalise a bit please?. In other words, would you normally recommend a re-unite to increase the strength of the hive (if someone doesn’t want to increase hive numbers) or would you suggest selling it? Would you do it after the solstice? Sorry - a bit of a “depends on the circumstances/situation” answer probably but I am interested in your thoughts. Apologies if you have posted them elsewhere at another time. Thanks.


#7

Hi Dan, no problems. I never re-unite colonies. A weak colony can always be built up, which is what I do. I did unite 2 colonies with newspaper a few years ago that we made a video of.

I take bees from a strong colony to unite with a weak colony on occasions. I would generally build up 2 weak colonies in preference to uniting two weak colonies. I’ve been saying this for a while now, not so much on the forum, but “two queens are better than one”. It’s my glass half full approach. I have to go & do a bit of work on a couple of weak colonies this afternoon, in preference to uniting them.