Swarm Trouble

Over the last couple of weeks we have had a large number of beekeepers come in for hiveware to house swarms from their own hives.

If you are looking to expand the number of hives you care for this can be OK but if not, all this does is give you two weak hives and a greatly reduced harvest.

There are a number of ways to help prevent swarming (sometimes nothing will prevent this, they just want to swarm) –

  • Ensure they have plenty of room.  Congestion in the brood box can mean the queen has nowhere to lay.  Shift some honey frames from the brood box up to the honey super and swap some empty drawn frames down into the brood box so the queen can lay in them.
  • Remove swarm cells.  Swarm cells can normally be found on the bottom of the brood frames.  Look carefully as there can be many at one time.
  • Replace the queen.  Old queens will produce less pheromones to keep the hive together.  Pheromones will also suppress swarm cell building.  Young vigorous queens will rarely swarm as the pheromones they produce are more than enough to keep the colony together.
  • Ensure your queen excluder is not blocked or clogged.  This prevents the bees getting up to the honey super and they will then fill the cells that the queen should be laying in.  An easy way to clean a metal queen excluder  is to use a queen excluder cleaning shovel:  https://www.hiveworld.co.nz/product/queen-excluder-cleaning-tool/.   If you notice the bottom entrance is too congested, you can add another entrance above the queen excluder.
  • If your bees have already swarmed.  Hive World have a Swarm attractant to help you get them into their new home –  https://www.hiveworld.co.nz/product/bee-charm-swarm-attractant-2/.  This will also attract them to settle in their new home permanently.

As you can see, swarm trouble can be turned to advantage 🙂

Catching a swarm can be so easy!  https://www.hiveworld.co.nz/catching-the-perfect-swarm/

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