Swarm Management of Honey Bees

Swarm Management of Honey Bees

Preventing swarms is nearly impossible. Healthy honey bee colonies usually swarm each spring. By swarming the colony is able to reproduce, that is, make another colony at an alternate location. Consider taking our online Spring Course. Here are some typical approaches to swarm management in the spring:

Swarm Management

1. Make an early spring split. Make sure there are eggs in both sides of the new split and the old colony if they need to raise their own queen.

2. Add additional supers, providing more room for the colony to expand. This may help control a swarm due to overcrowdedness. 

3. Apply a technique called checkerboarding which expands the brood nest area.

I talk about these techniques in greater details in my Online Swarm Management Course.

Signs From The Hive On An Impending Swarm

1. Healthy and well populated colony

2. Multiple queen cells developing on the lower half of brood frames (3 weeks prior to swarm event).

3. Reduced foraging several days prior to the swarm

When an established colony prepares to swarm they begin raising several new queens that are found developing in queen cells usually along the lower half or bottom of a frame in the hive. As soon as these cells are capped over at the bottom the colony can swarm. Swarming involves the old queen leaving along with approximately 60% of the old colony. Left behind are about 40% of the original colony with new virgin queens that will escape from their cells and fight until only one queen remains. Then, that virgin queen will fly out of the hive into the air up to 1.5 miles away to a drone congregation area where male drone honey bees hang out during the day. She will mate with around 20 or more drones then fly back to her colony and never mate again.

This spring your colony more than likely will swarm. Do you know how to manage your colony. If they do swarm, this will reduce your likelihood of harvesting a good amount of honey from the colony that swarm simply because they lost half of their foraging force.

Consider taking our ONLINE SPRING MANAGEMENT COURSE that deals specifically with swarm prevention, making spring splits and more. Click here now.