What is your preferred method of swarm control?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by onehorse, Feb 2, 2010.

  1. onehorse

    onehorse New Member

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    Ok, we rookie beekeepers have been doing a little bit of reading, (LOL, life slowed down enough for a little bit, but not much more!) and we have been trying to decide what is the best method (least likely to swarm, but a good build up) to control swarming would be. Your experiences, preferences?

    Thanks
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Checkerboarding.......
     

  3. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    checkerboarding also, or splitting but that is just a manipulated swam.

    G3
     
  4. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    favorites huh... hopefully that doesn't mean just one thing????
    listed in something of a time order of manipulation:
    1) removing any limitations to brood area expansion early on (typically at the very first manipulation in the spring time)... primarily solid frames of pollen or rarely here a frame of UNcapped honey*. BEWARE at this point in time a beekeeper can and does somewhat to highly direct the hive's brood nest expansion (horizontally or vertically).
    2) removing bees or brood (splitting) at the appropriate point of the season (typically the front side of the spring swarm season).
    3) the best and most robust method and subject to little downside is the appropriate use of a queen excluder with a limited or entirely closed bottom entrance. this also has two additional plus's beyond swarm control which is 1) less disturbance of the brood area which means less angry bees and 2) about a 10 to 20% enhancement in the honey crop.

    I personally consider checkerboarding to be a lot nonsense with just a bit of reinventing the wheel for the uninformed. it may also be somewhat to highly subject to casualty concerns for almost any new beekeeper who has NO experience to know the appropriate level of applying this approach.... or at least that is what a number of newbees have suggested to me directly.

    the EASIEST method of swarm control is to rear weak and/or starved bees. either of which will almost never swarm.

    *note to new beekeepers.... pollen is rarely moved by bees and thereby can act as a wall to brood nest expansion and the bees deal with uncapped honey quite differently from capped honey (don't look at these two same like things as being absolutely equivalent).
     
  5. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    first off I personally have ALWAYS run with 2 deep brood chambers, also I munber or otherwise mark the brood chambers, so I can keep track as to thier location and manipulate accordingly. brood nests tend to expand upwards and outwards. by reversing the sbrood chambers your taking advantage of what the bees would tend to do naturally, expand upwards, using freshly cleand formerly honey storage space from overwinter. I rotate about every month for 2 monthes by then its the honey flow and your either ready for it or you started too late. Always remember, from egg to actual forager is about 45 days, prior to that the bees are house bound as it were cleaning, polishing cells, feeding the brood, that sort of thing. Timming is critical.
    Barry


    P.S> please explain what exactly is the term " checkerboarding " referencing ?????????
     
  6. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    Making nucs and supering, or rotating deeps to provide more room for the queen to lay.
     
  7. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    It's a bit more complicated than that. Walt Wright developed the idea and has written extensively about it.

    viewtopic.php?f=11&t=591
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    iddee writes:
    t's a bit more complicated than that.

    tecumseh:
    must be? so is complexity or complicated something you think might be appropriate for a beginner or rookie?*

    another possibility for swarm control might be to clip the queen, let'em swarm and pick up the swarm from the ground. that would be pretty close to a bee hiver's preferred approach to 'swarm control'.

    *nothin' personal here iddee... just some functioning of a questioning and yes skeptical mind.
     
  9. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    OK, after re-reading sqkcrk's post, I see I misunderstood it. I thought he was saying what checkerboarding was. It wasn't what he was saying.

    Checkerboarding isn't any more complicated that other aspects of first year beekeeping. It is more complicated than just reversing boxes.

    Also, the OP didn't ask for the simplest method. He/she asked for the best method. I still think checkerboarding is the best method for preventing a swarm.

    Tec skeptical??? NAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!! NEVER!!
     
  10. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    Okay, just to further clarify, or maybe confuse, my prefered method of swarm control is to split my colonies, make nucs that is. Pulling a couple of frames of brood, a frame of honey and a frame of pollen and then replacing those frames w/ empty comb or foundation keeps most of my colonies from taking to the trees. I do this in SC in midMarch until I'm finished going through all of my colonies. Or until I run out of equipment.

    Here's how I make a nuc. The Kutik Method I call it, 'cause I stole the idea from Chuck Kutik. He said it was okay. You'll need a nuc box w/ a bottom that can be removed, an excluder, and 4 frames to put back in the hive. A couple of drawn combs and a couple of frames of foundation.

    From your hive, one of sufficient strength, take two frames of mostly brood and some honey, a frame of pollen and honey and a frame of honey. This is for a 5 frame nuc. shake or brush all of the bees off of the combs. Replace the combs w/ frames of comb and/or foundation. Put a queen excluder on top of the box that you took the frames from, which should be the top box. Otherwise, put the excluder on the top box.

    Now, put your bottomless nuc box, which should have the combs that you removed from the colony in it, put the nuc box on the exzcluder covering half of the top of the hive. Put the bottom of the nuc box on the other half of the excluder and put the top on the nuc box, if you haven't already.

    Leave this to sit over night, so bees can come up on the brood. The next morning, move the nuc onto the bottom, stuff something in the entrance and take the whole thing to another yard. Open it so they can fly. Add a queen or queen cell. And there you are.
     
  11. onehorse

    onehorse New Member

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    Okay, questions, for the guys that are checkerboarding. Are you also opening up the broodnest, per Michael Bush or just checkerboarding per Walt Wright? Have you started CBing your hives yet? Based on what I have read, I should be doing this around the end of Feb., but our Febs. can still be downright cold with March not always being much better. This method makes sense to me, but I am trying to figure out my timing for it.

    Sqkcrk, will you still get a good honey crop off of the hive that you are starting the nuc from? We want to get up to 6 - 8 hives by year end, but also want to be at the point that we don't need to buy honey either.

    Thanks guys, keep the info coming, I know I got alotta learning to do!
     
  12. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    If you cb according to Walt's directions, you will open the brood nest, but in a controlled manner.

    Being from NC, I can't answer your timing question.
     
  13. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    checker boarding is nothing but opening up the brood nest and to make the bees think they have swarmed. now there is open space and for the queen to keep on laying in. When doing a split you also open up the brood nest but you also lost half of the bees in that one hive. If the bees decide they are wanting to swarm there will be little you can do about it for the most part. To me doing a split is not swarm prevention it is an artificial swarm procedure. So did you prevent a swarm or just make it happen before they did it?

    G3
     
  14. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    G3 writes:
    checker boarding is nothing but opening up the brood nest and to make the bees think they have swarmed.

    tecumseh:
    so why ain't it called 'opening up the brood nest' or is someone just inventing new rhetoric here? again... complicating any message you might try to convey to any rookie.

    the last portion of your sentence is tossing human understanding on how the bees think. I can kinda' of tell when (collectively) the girls are pleased or when they are angry but I don't really have any way to know what they think. Given the number of variable involved in swarming I am not certain 'this process' would matter much in regards to what 'the girls' think anyway.

    onehorse writes:
    Based on what I have read, I should be doing this around the end of Feb., but our Febs. can still be downright cold with March not always being much better.

    tecumseh:
    according to the 'rookies' who have reported to me they used what they thought was the appropriate checker boarding technique also suggest to me this is the largest risk/casualty of the process (either a dead out from lost or rob out population or a hive set so far back it will not produce anything that season).

    How would a rookie know with any degree of certainty when the appropriate time was for doing this manipulation? This might not even be an easy question for a seasoned beekeeper???

    I just suspect there are a lot of simplier and more certain and yes less hazardous methods of reducing swarming.

    And my sceptic's mind tell me Iddee that 'best' is all in the eyes of the beholder.

    I really think onehorse that there is nothing wrong with you question but likely some other questions need to be ask before this...

    1) how many established hive have you at this time? ie a package or new start is unlikely to swarm in year one... ie most hives that swarm are from established two year old hives.

    2) more importantly in regards to planning what is your purpose in keeping bees? so if you just want one to watch and pollinate your garden then why worry about swarming at all? oh the other hand if you want several and you also want to capture something of a honey crop you might wish to do as sqkcrk describes.
     
  15. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    Depends on your location, but you should.
     
  16. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    I make splits like sqkcrk said. I sometimes take a frame with eggs in it and let them make a queen, especially if the frame came from one of my servivor hives. One thing that has worked for me (most of the time) if i see a hive with a lot of excess activity going on (what i deem as a swarm mode) i have picked the hive body up off the bottomboard and turned it around (what was the front is now the back)and it has bought me a day or two.I only do this if i don't have time to take care of it right then. Jack
     
  17. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    O.K., perhaps I am dense, but is your taking the brood chamber, with the queen in it, and rotating it to the bottom location, since if left to her own trends, queens will go up as opposed to down in a colony, being forced down by the nectar flow, by rotating brood chambers assuming your using deeps, then your bringing new fresh frames of relatively open cell space for the queen to lay in. In this way your eliminating crowding in the brood nest, all the hatching bees will be in the upper chamber, and the field bees will be going up into your honey supers ( forgot to mention that with this arraingement you should also provide a upper entrance for the field bees so they can largely bypass the brood nest entirely--which they actually will shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line and bees if nothing else are efficient in travelling the shortest distances in performance of thier duties.--so nobody be me seems to see ANY benefit in brood chamber rotation----my feelings are hurt :cry: (sic) actually beekeepers are like a group of sharks, while thier actions generally benefit the group they may be in, the true nature of thier actions were initially intended to only benefit themselves. But that everyoone learns from that individual that doesn't things a bit differently, what a boring world if all people did things exactly as the book says should be done and what a remarkable lack of innovation there would be!
    Barry :yahoo:
     
  18. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    I wish I could draw, but I don't know how. So you will have to use your imagination.

    Picture a two story colony, 2 deeps. Looking at it from the side, using your x-ray vision, see the cluster of bees. It is partly in the top super and the bottom super, but close to the top of the top super. It's a ball, in essence. The cluster doesn't have any room above itself, because of the honey that is there and the pollen that the bees are bringing in. Where to get room from w/out adding supers and manipulating combs? Take the top box and put it on the bottom board and take the bottom super and put it on the top. You now have two hemispheres in each box w/ room above the larger hemisphere. The larger, now lower, hemisphere will keep the upper one warm as the two hemispheres grow towards each other. And there is all of that empty comb in the bottom of the upper frames for the queen to lay in. All that extra room should keep the colony from swarming. But you have to keep your eyes open for swarm cells too.
     
  19. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    barry writes:
    so nobody be me seems to see ANY benefit in brood chamber rotation----my feelings are hurt

    tecumseh:
    well it seems barry that at least you and I and sqkcrk do exactly the same process. which to reduce to a nut shell is to make certain the cluster is starting from the bottom of the stack and moving upwards.

    I will add here in a typical two box (really the sizes does not matter much) over wintered hive in about 1/3 of the hives the queen and cluster moves down all by themselves so no manipulation is necessary. quite typically at the same time (here at least) a beekeeper cleans the bottom board and depending on how far along the season is may or may not remove the entrance reducer.

    clue: just a bit later in the season I casually check for swarm cells by looking at the area of the bottom bars in the upward most box of the brood nest expansion. you really need not even remove a box to do this minor check.
     
  20. cow pollinater

    cow pollinater New Member

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    I use the Kutic method, I just didn't know that was what it was called... Maybe I'll just call it the sckcrk method.
    Here I usually do it right as the citrus starts to bloom so I like to pull out most of the open brood and that way I'm left with most of my foragers in one hive with little open brood to feed as the young nurse bees move up to cover the brood.