Free Bees!

An easy $100 swarm.

If you are interested in collecting swarms – now is the time.  I just got a call from Midstate pest control -(877) 526-4222 – looking for someone to collect a swarm for a customer of theirs – Midstate does not deal with honey bees apparently.  I personally don’t usually have time to drop everything and go get  swarms at this time of year, but you might.   Midstate said that they get lots of these calls in the spring, and pass them on to anyone who contacts them with an interest in catching swarms.  Other pest control companies probably have the same deal.  

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Swarm Prevention – Cut down Splits

If you have looked into your hives in the last few days it is very likely that you have seen signs of swarm preparation - rows of queen cups on the bottom of frames, dense populations, nectar choked hives with little room for the queen to lay in - maybe even swarm cells.

If you have looked into your hives in the last few days it is very likely that you have seen signs of swarm preparation - rows of queen cups on the bottom of frames, dense populations, nectar choked hives with little room for the queen to lay in - maybe even swarm cells.

Swarm Management for new Beekeepers

New Beekeepers who are successfully over wintering hives for the first time are likely to see their overwintered colonies build up strongly on the early spring nectar flows.

Unfortunately strong overwintered colonies have a natural tendency to reproduce by swarming.

A new honey bee colony is formed when the queen bee leaves the colony with a large group of worker bees, a process called swarming. In the primeswarm, about 60% of the worker bees leave the original hive location with the old queen.
Swarming (honey bee) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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How to Tell if a Hive has Already Swarmed

Honey bee colony populations can increase so rapidly just before swarming that it may not be apparent that a hive has swarmed just by population or entrance activity – although usually both are reduced somewhat. Upon inspection of such a hive you will usually find queen cells along the bottoms of combs (swarm cells) – probably opened where the queen(s) have emerged. There will not usually be a lot of brood in the hive right at the time of swarming because the queen typically runs out – or nearly out – of room to lay eggs in during the run up to swarming. You may find several recently emerged brood cells – which may be filled with nectar. But the main sign of a hive which has recently swarmed are opened swarm cells.

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Things to Do with a Queen Excluder – Harvesting Nurse Bees

There are several reasons why you might want to separate the queen or move brood or nurse bees from one hive to another:

  • To strengthen a weak hive
  • To weaken a hive to try to keep it from swarming
  • To make up nucleus hives – either for direct increase or as mating nucs
  • To make a cell builder for queen rearing
  • Making queenless packages of bulk bees

The thing is, when you move a frame covered with bees there is always the chance that the queen is hiding among them – unless you find her first  it’s really hard to be 100% sure.  But finding the queen when you want to is often very time consuming – when you are not looking for her she often comes out and poses for a picture, but when you really want to find her it seems she is having a shy day.

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Swarmy Day in May

Wednesday afternoon I went down to the bee yard and found this:

This is usually called bearding - and it is NOT always a sign of an impending swarm. Often it just means that it's hot, and maybe a little bit crowded inside.

It’s a little early in the season for this degree of bearding, but it is a big strong hive that I hope makes lots of honey.  Anyway, I plan to look into it as soon as I can – in a day or two.

On Friday morning I arrived prepared to do whatever needs to be done to deal with it, but as soon as I got there I saw this:

Fortunately they didn’t go far…

This swarm is about 4 feet long and 10 feet up a tree.

I thought you might find this interesting, but don’t ask me how to keep them from swarming – I wish I knew. I did catch that one though.

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