Honeyflow.com | FAQ's | Community |

Vertical slatted rack?


The more reading I do the more questions I have it seems lol.

has anyone ever used one of these? The OP claims that it may contribute to eliminating the desire to swarm when combined with a slatted bottom and mesh bottom board. I’d be interested to hear thoughts.


My first thought on it was that it would be an awfully great place for SHB to hang out. He gives it a glowing review though.


Hi Adagna, I can’t comment on that box but it’s worth remembering that swarming is the bees natural way to reproduce. When the conditions are right with plenty of pollen coming in with the days getting longer, that urge for the bees can be irresistible. What I try to do at the start of spring is weaken out the brood of the strong hives, add that brood to the weaker hives. Replace those frames with fresh foundation, that delays the urge. Once all my hives are at a good strength, I start removing brood with bees minus the queens to make new hives to replace the usual few hives that die out before winter. Those new hives make themselves new queens. After that process I can start making even more new hives to sell the colonies on Gumtree. The whole time I’m just keeping the bees working enough so they don’t swarm. I always lose the odd one. I keep the colonies strong enough to also produce honey. Sometimes I’ll receive 10 ph. calls in a week with swarms. I’m generally too busy preventing my own bees from swarming to go & collect any. Most times the people are amazed that I wont go & collect the swarm. Sometimes we get a lecture about how the bees are in trouble. Then I’ll offer to help them to get the bees into a box so they can look after them. They always decline the offer. I’ll ttyl, bye


I have been interested in swarm prevention methods using specialized between the frame devices.

In 1897 Lewis Agustus Aspinwall patented a method of making bees feel like they had adequate room so they would focus their attention on honey production instead of swarming. Aspinwall’s principle encouraged the bees to expand their hive upward into the empty honey supers that were place on top of the hive.

The following quote is taken from Aspinwall’s 1908 patent # 891.584:> In my present hive I employ similar brood or comb frames, and I prefer to arrange the same alternately with dummy frames that are filled in with a series of similar or parallel strips or slats. These slats may be placed in any desired direction and so close to one another as to leave between them about a bee-space, and the slats are preferably as wide as the dummy frames, and they are so close as to prevent the bees building comb in the frames, but yet at the same time allowing room for the bees to travel through the dummy frames from one comb frame to the next and in this way providing ample room for all the bees and for the increase of the bees, so as to overcome the tendency of the bees to swarm at certain periods.

I have been experimenting with some modifications to the Aspinwall method - the reasoning makes sense - but I can’t confirm yet how well it prevents swarming. I haven’t heard of a single swarm in our area this year - probably due to the drought.
John Banta

California, Swarms, and the Drought

Obviously you can’t extinguish their desire to reproduce but if I can make the hive comfortable enough that that is the only reason they want to swarm then I would count that as a success. It seems like if you can keep them happy enough that swarming is much less common.


Hi Adagna, a few years ago I looked on the internet for an explanation for swarming so I could direct people to it to save me explaining it to the scores of people who phone me during spring. I thought the Wiki explanation was fantastic. I think the title is “swarming: honeybees”. In that they mention how swarming is the bees natural way to reproduce. Then I started to think “wow, if the bees desire to reproduce is just the same as the desire for humans or any other living creature to reproduce, well that desire is pretty strong”. There’s an old saying goes something like this: “love makes the world go around”. I believe the bees in their hives are working selflessly for the next generation & to have a population increase to achieve one goal, to reproduce. With the process of natural selection, the hive will produce a strong queen & then that queen will mate with the drones that can fly the highest. The result of that will be strong progeny, that’s what I tell my students.


I guess where I am coming from is that if my hive swarms I have to buy a new queen because 99% chance is that the virgin queen will be Africanized. It’s really bad here apparently given what the pest control, and local beekeepers are telling me. They all re-queen no matter what once a year, and every 2 years at an absolute maximum.


Wow, that’s not good. Lucky we don’t have that problem here. I thought I could try the slats on just one hive to let the population build up into the honey supers & add more supers. But then I thought I would have more boxes to remove when I want to check the brood & if they did swarm, it would be a big one. My main reason for preventing my bees from swarming is because there are houses near all my bees & I don’t want them invading the wall cavities. My swarm control strategies really work if I take steps to prevent it & don’t let my guard down. I’m very particular with the bees at my own place & am able to prevent that from happening here. The only difference between making new hives where I am & where you are is: I can get away with allowing my bees to make a new queen, whereas you’d have to order a new queen in advance of making a split. Depending on which book you read, they say hive populations range from 60,000 to 100,000. I have seen it mentioned that a hive could possibly build up to 120,000. On reflection, I’d rather have 2 hives of say around 60,000 than one hive of 120,000. I have a couple of hives right now that I’d be forgiven for thinking they are Africanized. I’m planning on using one of them to make a video to show how to deal with an angry beehive in the coming weeks. My wife (Wilma) will need to be protected for that one.


Here’s an image of the Aspinwall frame. He promoted it as increasing his honey production because the bees didn’t feel crowded - so they put their energy into making honey instead of swarming.

John Banta


I didn’t gather from the quote maybe I missed it, but out of a standard 8 frame or 10 frame brood chamber how many of these dummy frames are going into it? I would think you wouldn’t want too many as you would compromise the brood laying volume to keep the hive strong enough.


Aspinwall wasn’t clear about the number of his frames to use - but I agree you don’t want to interfere much with the brood laying volume. I use deep ten frame hives. Three of the modular units I am experimenting with occupy the space of one frame. Here’s a photo showing the hive I’ve been experimenting with.

Frame 1 is honey
Frame 2 is primarily pollen on the outside of the frame and drone brood on the inside
Frame 3 was substituted with three of the modular perforated seperators
Frames 4 through 9 are brood
Frame 10 is honey and pollen

The queen is now in her second laying season and has also laid eggs in the second tier.

I expanded this hive in March this year from a ten frame nucleus hive (two tiers of 5 frames - with three frames of brood) that I overwintered. I wasn’t worried about swarming while it was expanding in March and April because there was plenty of room. I added the swarm device the first part of May - between the drone brood and the worker brood. so far no queen cells have been produced - so no swarming behavior. But like I said I’m not aware of any swarming this year. By now I would have expected to hear of at least half a dozen swarms.