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Swarm Season

Hey All, well it's been a bumper winter season here in Sunny QLD, with most colonies not even slowing down over winter so they will be coming out extremely strong for most colonies as soon as the warm weather stays with us.


So a little about swarming - firstly its natural and built into the bee's DNA... so you can't stop it from happening or even prevent it however you can do a lot to mitigate it from happening.

The main reasons for swarming are

  • instinct (for the future of the species)

  • Genetics

  • Queens age

  • The amount of room in their hive


So we can't do anything about the instincts

But the rest we can and this is where good hive management will go a very long way to keeping the colony intact... as a responsible beekeeper you can be doing the following to mitigate swarming

  • buy queens from queen breeders (genetics will be lower swarming tendencies)

  • Replace queens at 18month - 2years of age (at 2 years they are almost 100% likely to swarm)

  • A good older queen can be tricked by artificially swarming her and putting her in a new box, new location and splitting the hive.

  • Good brood management - rotating the older food frames up and giving the queen room to lay.

  • Adding supers -- give the colony room to expand and keep them busy.

  • Inspections when they look too full check for queen cells - know your hive.

These go a long way to helping to mitigate the swarming tendencies.

So what happens if I'm too late and I find queens cells-

  • the likelihood of stopping the colony thats in "swarming mode" is almost zero -the process of swarming has started. Like I said earlier an artificial spilt has to take place. You can leave 1-3 queens cells and then buy a queen later. Don't stress!

  • If they are swarming follow them 9/10 they will land nearby. Have a Nuc box handy or 8frame hive box handy with new waxed and wired frames and collect them - heaps fun.


It's important that we do what we can to keep them from going into the wild and affecting our native species and spreading disease and pests as well as landing in someone's house and setting up, not great haha


If you need a hand remember to book me in, I get very busy now and there may be lengthy delays so get in quick.


Bee well and take care


Rick


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