We had an excellent talk from Bea and received very useful information on how to try and stop our bees from swarming and what to do if we get a swarm. It was a very interactive session with lots of questions.
I have tried to give as much information as I had made notes on and I have taken the liberty to add video links which I have found useful.
Why do bees swarm? Swarming is the bee’s natural method of reproduction so its always going to be difficult to control it. Imagine if we were to try controlling human reproduction?
When? Weather dependent. Early summer. Bees on Oil Seed Rape. Hive becomes congested. Lack of ventilation.
Signs: Strong Colony, Increase in drone brood, queen off lay, queen cells.
Prevention: Regular Inspections in April ..every 9 days if queen is marked and clipped, 7 day inspections if queen is not clipped. Look for queen cells and break them down.
Give bees plenty space. Add supers if necessary. Ensure plenty ventilation
Swap in 3-4 frames foundation yearly.
Recognise swarmy bees..they build up quickly.
Clip and mark the queen. Do this at first inspection if possible. Do around mid-day when foragers are out. Dont use smoke if possible as it will cause queen to run. Use crown of thorns…not the plastic variety. Dont press too hard. Yellow or white colours are easier to see. Keep Records
Do a Bailey Frame Exchange…see how in March Beachaire P141 and video link…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zm_UBm4HEn4
Do an Artificial swarm… video link.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Og00ZA_F6_Y and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD4aEls8I4E
Replace the queen in the autumn. Young queens are less likely to swarm.
Unite weak colonies.
Taking a Swarm: need a box, sheet, water spray, frame of comb, protective clothing, secateurs, loppers. Get bees into box and cover. Isolate them from your Apiary until tested and disease free. Run them into a nuc box by placing the sheet on the ground, empty bees on to it. They will run into the nuc box. Observe if there is a queen. Dont clip the queen because if its a virgin queen she she cant then go out to be mated. Be careful…there could be more than one queen. Leave only 1 queen. Fill the box with 1 frame of drawn comb and 4 frames of foundation and feed 1:1. Take a sample of bees and send to Mary Coffey for testing. Treat for varroa.