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How do I prevent my bees from swarming?



You can see swarms of bees most often in the spring and early summer. Honey bees instinctively manage the colony’s growth and survival by swarming. Immediately before swarming, the bees that intend to leave the colony stuff themselves with honey (like packing a box lunch before a long trip). Then, all of the sudden, like someone turned on a switch, thousands of bees leave the hive and darken the sky with their sheer numbers. Usually half or more of the family leaves the hive to look for a new home.


You can easily detect a swarm because its basically a bundle of bees clustered together for protection and warmth. In the center of it all is their queen. The size of this cluster usually surpasses a grapefruit and sometimes a watermelon! The bees will remain in this position for a couple of hours, sometimes even a few days while some scout bees look for a better home. Once the news of the new bee land has hit the swarm center, the bees start their journey to the new place.


Why do I want to prevent swarming?


Swarms are interesting to look at, but not for a beekeeper. This usually means several hundred Dollars have left the hive and left the remaining hive extremely weak and vulnerable. A colony that loses 50% of its population and 50% of its honey also will have a difficult time regaining its population and productivity.


How can I prevent my bees from swarming?


If you notice your bees preparing to swarm just before the main nectar flow, we recommend splitting your hives.


Some beekeepers choose to do a split with the old queen and keeping all but one frame of the open brood. Leave the old hive with the capped brood, one frame of eggs/open brood, no queen and empty supers. This helps prevent new swarms because the old hive won’t swarm without a queen and the new hive won’t because they have no foragers.


Obviously, the easiest thing to do is watch your hives carefully and prevent a swarm before it starts, rather than managing it after it’s too late.


Besides that you can do the following:

-avoid congestion: Because overcrowding is a main reason a colony will swarm, ensure to anticipate your bees’ needs and provide them with more room before they need it.


-you can prevent the queen from leaving the hive with the anti-swarming barrier.


- even out your bee populations in the early spring to better allocate the fast-growing population.


- add a queen excluder and honey supers before the first nectar in early spring.


- Adequate ventilation:

· If your inner cover has a indented ventilation hole in the front of the inner cover, make sure it’s open.

· Glue a short length of a wooden Popsicle stick to each of the four corners of the inner cover. By doing so, you create a thin gap between the inner cover and the hive and improve air flow into and out of the hive.

· Drill wine cork-sized holes in your upper deep (below the hand hold) and in all your honey supers. Doing so not only provides extra ventilation but also provides the bees with additional entrances.

· After adequate ventilation has been ensured, use a queen prevention


-Make your bees comfy in hot weather by doing the following:

· Supply a nearby water source. The bees will use this water to regulate the hive’s temperature.

· Shield the hive from a full day of blazing sun.


-Remove all queen swarm cells:

· The earliest proof that your bees are thinking about swarming is that they start to make swarm cells. During the spring and early summer, inspect your hive every week or ten days to look for swarm cells.


- Replace your queen every other autumn. Colonies with young queens are far less likely to swarm.



Bonus

If you want to catch a swarm of bees and make some additional money doing it, Swarm commander will lure your colonies in your unoccupied hives. It contains a pheromone specially created to attract passing swarms of feral honeybees. These swarms will be lured into your hive, giving you and opportunity to establish new bee colonies with a minimum of effort. 😉

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