Swarming bees

Ok, so you’ve checked your bee hive and there are heaps and heaps of bees and nectar coming in and a full brood box… there’s a good chance they will swarm so what do you do?

We have tried just about every method you read about and none of them seem to work with any sort of accuracy. The best thing you can do is split the colony. Despite what you read, there’s no need to buy a queen. If you use this method the girls are quite good at raising a new queen all by themselves.

The way you do it is open the hive and put a new base and brood box beside the donor hive. (There’s no need to move it away from the donor hive.) Remove half the brood frames from the donor hive and put them in the split. Don’t shake off the bees – you want bees of all ages in both hives. There’s no need to look for the queen either; just make sure that both hives have eggs so a queen can be raised. You then fill the gaps on either side of the brood with either stickies drawn or undrawn frames, and put an excluder on each box… if you use them.

Do the same with the honey super so you have effectively split the hive in two with both halves having half the brood and half the honey. Check back in a week and carefully check each brood frame. The hive with the queen will be happily filling those empty frames, while the queen-less hive should have some queen cells. I usually pick the biggest, most advanced queen cell and destroy the others to prevent after swarms.

If after 40 days there is no sign of a laying queen in the queen-less hive you can recombine it with the donor using the newspaper method or use a purchased queen… but be really sure there is no queen. They sometimes take quite a while to become fertile laying queens.

6/9/2013

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