Swarming

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by bronzekite, Feb 1, 2012.

  1. bronzekite

    bronzekite New Member

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    I know that swarming is the stereotypical concern of new beekeepers. My primary concern is with bees going into neighbors property and using one of their trees or something as a new home. My huge fear is that they will then call me up and I will have to attempt to remove the new hive and I'm not sure I would be qualified. Hence I haven't actively started to keep bees.

    Also, this may be a silly question, but after time the colonies will grow and I was wondering how you keep control of the size of the colonies so that you don't end up with too many bees.

    If these seem like silly things, don't worry people, I don't keep bees. I am trying to find out all of these things BEFORE I keep bees unlike some folks.

    Thanks!
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Hello bronzekite: :hi:

    First off, you have taken a good first step by finding us ;) , and then asking questions. :thumbsup:
    Swarming usually occurs when a hive is doing well, raising plenty of bees and accumulating a surplus of honey. It gets crowded, usually in spring, early summer, and then get ready to throw a swarm. It is how bees propogate. It is natural.
    We as beekeepers however, are reluctant to say goodbye to half our workforce and part of a honeycrop by letting this happen. We work to do things that limit the chances of this happening. Opening up the brood nest, adding empty frames, or even splitting, all work towards limiting the chances of a hive swarming. Notice I said "limiting".
    If your future hive should swarm and land in your neighbours tree, no problem, simply go over and retrieve it! :mrgreen:
    If you are searching out knowhow now before you get bees (smart move) you will be fully prepared to catch a swarm when the time comes. There are plenty of good folks here to help guide you on your way.
    Congratulations on taking the first step. :yahoo:
     

  3. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Bees swarm mostly when they get overcrowded and run out of room. It's their way of multiplying in a given range.

    -Most people lose some percentage of their hives each winter (the average is now above 25% loss nationwide each winter), so that helps keep your population from booming too quickly.
    -splitting a hive in the Spring, or letting them raise their own queen, will very much discourage swarming. You can also take some brood frames out of a crowded hive and make a nuc or two to sell to others.
    -moving frames around within the hive to give the queen open comb above the main brood nest to lay in will help discourage swarming. This is called 'checkerboarding'.
    -reversing the brood boxes in the early Spring can give you the same effect, putting empty brood comb above the queen so she never feels she has run out of laying room. Bees tend to move up, thus most bees will be in the upper box come Spring, and often the bottom box will have lots of empty comb.

    If you look up info on how bees swarm, you'll see that it's unlikely they will build a hive right on the branch of your neighbor's tree. More likely they hang there temporarily while their scouts are looking for a more suitable place like a hollow tree or log, a space within someone's house or barn siding that they can get into through some hole, or a swarm trap hive box that someone like YOU might put out to tempt swarms.

    If you ever have just too many bees all you have to do is call the nearest bee club and someone will come over like a shot to get some free bees! Or you can sell some using Craig's List. You can sell just bees if they bring their own boxes and exchange frames with you, or you can sell your bees along with your hive parts.
     
  4. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Bronzekite, I see you like to get right down to business--no introductory pages. Even so, let me say: Welcome to the forum. :hi:
    Perry is 100% correct--beeks don't like to lose their bees (and honey crop) due to swarming, but the fun and pleasure of capturing swarms almost makes it worth the loss.
    Of course, the best thing is not to lose any of your own bees to swarming but still get swarms that other beekeepers lose--it's completely legal and not considered stealing (unless the "owner" is actively following them).
    Bait hives are the easiest method for capturing a swarm. It's nice to watch the swarm move into an empty hive with a few built frames that you've left out in your back yard. It's almost as nice to look at the bait hive after a few days and discover that a swarm has moved in unnoticed.
    Without going into the details of swarm collecting (search the forum for items that deal with that topic), just keep in mind that there are few bees less likely to sting than those in a swarm.
     
  5. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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    Welcome to the forum bronzekite. :hi:

    You have come to the right place to learn. As Perry stated, one way of limiting a colonies desire to swarm, make sure they have plenty of room to move into, usually another brood box. Once in a while, however, a colony will take it into their collective minds and swarm no matter what you do.

    You didn't specify where in New England you are, but there are several forum members from your part of the world. Check around and find a local beekeeping association to join. You can go to the website of your state dept. of agriculture and find out more information.

    As far as swarm retrieval, go to youtube.com and type in bee swarms. There are quite a number of videos posted there showing how diffferent folks do it.

    Again, welcome.
     
  6. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    Welcome to the forum. I wish more people looking at keeping bees went about it the way you are. These are very intellegent questions. Looks like you have got some good answers from the members. Dont be shy fire away with all questions. We all were all new keeps like yourself at one time we are always willing to share our knowlege. Wont be long you will be sharing yours. Yep even us old keeps can learn from the new keeps. Again welcome aboard and hope to see you around regularly
     
  7. jim314

    jim314 New Member

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    Don't worry about this part bronzekite. I hived my very first 2 packages the last week of April 2011 and got a call to remove a swarm at a marina about 4 weeks later. I just acted like I knew what I was doing and nobody new any different :). All three hives are doing well now.

    You'll get a lot of good advice here, go for it.
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    welcome..

    first I would suggest you are onto the right path in building information on which to act long before the information is necessary. that is a good thing.. gives you lots of time to consider 'what if this, then' kind of mental simulations.

    second I like to encourage new bee keepers not to worry so much since with information and some instruction on how these things have been handled in the past there really is nothing gained with all that worry.

    swarming is a concern but knowing the signs (described by Omie above), plus a proactive approach (traps as defined by efmesh above) pretty much covers all the bases. add to this that if you are just starting, swarming only becomes a possible problem in year 2 so you have a year to work on addressing this concern.
     
  9. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    As stated above( opps! welcome to the forum ), in mid to late spring, as the colonies are approaching maximum colony strength, primary factors in initiating the " swarming impulse ", is brood chamber congestion, and lack of brood rearing space--as due to insufficient honey storage. The bee's then start using brood comb as storage further crowding the hive.provide an additional super, and rotate the brood chambers( yeah 2 deeps )so the queen is laying in two full depth chambers. If you observe large scale loafing of bees inside the hive, or the start of queen cells, by providing space in the brood nest, for egg laying, supers and for honey storage, providing an upper entrance for foragers to go directly to the honey supers, bypassing the brood nest entirely, further eliminates brood nest congestion. is what I do and to my knowledge my bees haven't swarmed but once, and that was before I started doing that. Food for thought.
    Barry
     
  10. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Another factor is overheating. Keeping the hive well aerated when the swarming season arrives is a good practice. You can slightly shift an upper super backward about 1 cm (almost 1/2 an inch) to make a space along the front of the hive. If you do this carefully, beccause of the cut in the wood to rest the frames on, you get a space in the front but not in the back. This serves a double function: It gives a long slot for additional aeration and it can add an upper entrance to the hive, thereby reducing the crowding in the brood nest as the foragers come in with their loads. When the busy season ends, it's easy enough to slide the super forward and close the extra entrance.