Although honeybees can swarm from the hive at anytime, they tend to swarm most during spring. Sometimes honeybees swarm when they believe they have outgrown their hive. However, other times there is nothing that you can do to prevent swarming from happening. The bees simply have an instinctual desire to create another colony. Here are some tips for swarm prevention. These are not fail-proof against a swarm, but they might help you with your beekeeping plans and management.
Plan on making splits in the spring. When the colonies come through winter strong, plan on making early splits. This not only creates another hive but also helps to decrease the bee population temporarily and provide more room in the hive.
Reverse the deeps. In the spring, once the weather is warm enough, reverse the position of the deeps. This moves the brood down to the lower deep and permits honey storage above. It also moves the bees down to the bottom of the hive so they have room to move up.
Re-queen. Re-queening the hive comes down to the management style of the beekeeper. Some religiously re-queen each spring while others wait for the hives to re-queen themselves. Regardless, new queens have less of a tendency to swarm as they are just getting established themselves in the hive.
Know your bee breeds. All bee breeds behave differently and are certainly known and bred for particular characteristics. Some bees are better at producing honey, others are better at overwintering. Some bee breeds are more prone to swarming.
Regular spring inspections. It is important to regularly check the hive for available room, queen productivity, and signs of potential swarming (presence of swarm cell on the bottom of the frame). If you notice a swarm cell, the swarm will be inevitable. Leave the swarm cell there. This is the hive’s new queen. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to prevent the swarm. The bees have been already planning their course of action for weeks. You can simply wait for them to swarm and then retrieve them to place them in another empty hive.
Monitor Mother Nature. Honeybee activity is dependent on the weather. When the weather is warm and sunny, they are out foraging. During long spells of rain the bees are “trapped” inside their homes working. Sometimes bees can build out hives very quickly during the course of a few rainy days. This leaves little room for growth. Be sure to do regular hive inspections. Do not rely on watching the front entrances alone.
Give them space. Try to remain one step ahead. Be sure that your bees have enough space between now and the time you plan to do another inspection. When supering the hive, try add two supers at a time- especially if the comb is drawn out already. This gives them plenty of ample space.
Click here to learn how to catch a swarm.
All photos used under the Creative Commons Licensing Agreement.
In spring when bees return with nectar i will immediately remove entrance reducer. I feel this cools.the hive forcing clustering again. This will lead to loss of drones and parasites. I think lack of drones in hive helps reduce swarm urges due to lack of available mating stock. If one hive has no drones,the bees might believe other hives have a lack of drones also.
I so disagree with the mentality of our beekeeping profession. Re-queening…preventing swarms…etc… you all playing with their natural design to genetically evolved themselves. Our human species are inventors and creators, I applaud that but sometimes we don’t know how to leave a good thing alone. How many of you agree with genetically bonding our DNA with artificial intelligence or crossing DNA of plants with animals, pesticides, etc… to create something more profitable (GMO’s) for the stockholders ? To a lesser degree that is what you are doing with the bees. There are so many simple things we can do to assist the bees. We are trying too hard to be good beekeepers and just royally screwing things up. Robbing too much honey and then slowly poisoning them with sugar water, treating them with chemicals, the list goes on and on. Why are you trying to stop them from swarming ? Is it because less bees means less honey which means less profit for you ! Everyone needs to look into the mirror and ask themselves what kind of a person (beekeeper) they are. Say to yourself, ” Everything I am doing is for the good of the bees”, keep looking at yourself and wait for your inner spirit to respond. Are you being honest ?
Good grief. Beekeeping is a hobby or an occupation, not a religion. If you find yourself getting overly passionate about it, then maybe you just need to take a little time off.
A couple of weeks ago we noticed a swarm of honey bees on a small tree. We placed a hive near the tree, added 5 frames and some drops of lemongrass oil. The next morning the bees were still in the tree, but by evening they had moved into the hive. A few days later we checked the hive and noticed that although they had pretty much ignored the frames they had built three combs in the space between the frames. Another few days and we were about to add a honey super and found that all of the bees had swarmed. The hive was empty except for the new comb that they had built. This all happened in late April and early May 2017. Why did the new to the hive on their own effort bees suddenly swarm?
Love all your info.
Really useful easy reading.
Been keeping bz for 5 years now and still not really got my head around them !!
Does one ever ?!
Have good days.
Found this one……..
[…] Prevent swarms. Control swarming. Capture […]
It is extremely difficult to read the text when it is printed over the photos – you need to restructure your page.
HI Melissa and the team. I really liked how you broke swarm prevention down to 7 Steps. Bees are marvelous creatures, not only for the vital pollination work they do but also they bring together bee enthusiast from all around the world and all walk of life. Swarm Control & Prevention is such an important part of beekeeping and there are so many steps to learn, especially for a beginner. I’d really like to share a video with you and your readers that we produced with an internationally acclaimed beekeeper, Bruce White. And if you have the time, I’d like your feedback. You can see it on our youtube channel here https://youtu.be/yvQsI076MHs.
Thanks and keep up the great work.
I have invented a copper fogger to kill mites in the hives it is very fast and easy to use. The electric version Cost $ 500.00 but this one is even faster and only cost $ 150.00 If bee keepers want to even more they can buy their own Propane tank and Mr. Torch and get free shipping on the main body for $ 100.00 if you’d like to see it in operation just email me and ask for the Video for copper gogger.