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Author Topic: How to control swarming? Stages of swarming  (Read 417 times)

Offline Ukrainian beekeeper

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How to control swarming? Stages of swarming
« on: March 23, 2017, 06:38:39 pm »
Hello everyone!!
I have made a new video abot swarming control. We used our observations and made up the stages of preparing the bees for swarming. What do you think about this control system? I hope my explanation was clear.



If you want to be a good beekeeper you need to know stages of preparation of bee colony for swarming and how to control swarming at each stage.
Swarming means breeding. Problems of Beekeeping are:
1) Development of colonies of bees ? increasing in the mass (number) of bees in the colony;
2) Control of swarming ? watching out that the colony of bees does not fly away.
Old school of beekeeping prefers the natural reproduction of bee colonies and gives a swarm to fly out from the hive and then catch it. They believe that swarms work better. Yes, swarms work better, but they work better because bees did not work before swarming, they were saving their strength to fly away. This means that bees, that do not swarming, do more work, work better than bees that were swarming. In all cases, it is better that the bees do not swarming and get out from the hive because they can fly away at all.
So the first spring flight of bees passed. After this, any bee colony begins to prepare for swarming because bees want to breed (swarming) always. They think, dream about it and strive for it. It's good that bees want to swarm (breed), but beekeeper must to control it, and prevent bees from flying out of the hive.
We marked the green the period that is safe from the fact that the bee colony will fly away. The green period includes 4 stages of preparing the colony of bees for swarming. After the first spring flight of bees the first stage of preparing the colony of bees for swarming takes place. It is called: an increase the number of bees. The queen of bees lays eggs, but the number of bees is still small and the bee colony cannot fly away (swarming) in any way.
At the second stage drones appear in the bee colony. Drones appear quickly in strong families because someone has to fertilize the queen. This is necessary for the further successful breeding (and swarming) of bee colony. We need to maximally stretch this second period in time to fight with swarming. To do this, we put the frames in the colony, looking at the strength of the colony of bees.
Third stage of preparing the colony of bees for swarming is the appearance of cell cups. You do not have to worry about it just note that in this colony came the third phase of the safe period (your bees will not fly away in the near future).
Your colony of bees grows, becomes stronger, you put frames with empty combs and see that there are grapes of bees on the side of frames, this bees do not work. There are a lot of job in the hive, but part of bees do not want to work. Bees begin to save energy in order to fly away. In Ukraine we call such bees as ?Fatty bees?. This is stage 4, but your bees are still not ready to fly away. This means that the safe period of preparation of bees for swarming has ended. And begins the orange period of increased danger that bees can fly away (swarm out). This period includes 3 stages of preparing the colony of bees for swarming.
If you during the inspection of the hive and the planned setting of frames with empty combs found swarm queen cells, then the fifth stage of preparing the colony of bees for swarming in this hive had began. If you see swarm queen cells this means that the bees are preparing for swarming. Need to know, if you see queen cells of requeening by bees this means that the bees just want to change the queen ? this is not a sign of swarming. Fistulous queen cells are not sign of swarming too. We know that new queen get out from cell after 16 days, we need to note this and begin to fight with this stage of preparing the colony of bees for swarming. How will we do this? Simple. It is necessary to make splits using swarm queen cells. So we do not let the bees gain strength and develop so that they can fly away from us. Making splits, we are increasing number of the colonies in our apiary and fighting with swarming at the same time.
Now the bees develop further. You as a beekeeper help them. But at some moment, see that the Queen began to lay eggs less, at the same time, there are all that is needed in the hive, and you thought to put more frames or even a box in the hive. This means that the bees forced the queen not to lay eggs because queen must to lose weight for the future flight of the swarm (In fact, the Queen wants to lay her eggs, but bees do not give it.) This is the 6 stage of preparing the colony of bees for swarming. It is called decrease in laying. What to do in this case? It is necessary to weaken the colony of bees, that is, need to return the colony to a green safe period of development of bees (for the second or third stage of preparing the colony of bees for swarming). We need that the colony does not want to swarm to the main flow. And we must to control it. How to weaken a colony of bees? We take away from the colony frames with open and sealed brood and also if there are a lot of bees in the colony we can to take part of bees from this colony too. Brood we can sell or put in the splits or put in the other colonies. Taken bees we can shake off in the weak splits. Young bees will stay in the new hive, and part of the flying bees will fly back to its hive. That means that at the 6 stage of preparing the colony of bees for swarming we need to take away from the colony frames with brood and also to take part of bees from this colony too. So we spend the swarming control and know what happens in each hive and at what stage of development is each colony of bees. If you observe a decrease in the laying of eggs, the colony of bees will not develop and grow more. Using the above methods of fighting with swarming, we also do not give to the queen decrease in the laying of eggs. In nature, swarms are not big. When the colony of bees collects about four kilograms of bees, they can fly away from the hive. They know that such a mass of bees is enough for survival and they can fly away. The colony feels that there are enough bees in the colony and queen stops laying eggs because it is not rational to have a bigger colony for them We weaken the colony of bees because we need that the queen will return to the same rate of laying eggs.
We have found out under what conditions the queen lays the maximum number of eggs. When there are from 6 to 14 frames in a colony of bees, then queen lays the maximum number of eggs. If the hive is up to six frames, queen lays eggs less because there are not enough bees to service the brood in the hive. If there are more than 14 frames in the hive, the queen decrease in the laying of eggs and the colony prepare to fly away.
So when we fight with swarming and do not let it go by itself we breed bees, increase the number of colonies and increase the strength of colonies of bees at all apiary. We give to the queen the opportunity to work with one intensity, and the bees serve to the queen also in one pace. If we will not control the number of bees in the colony, there will be an overabundance of bees in the hive during main flow. Part of bees will not work and beekeeper will lose in the amount of honey and bees.
Last, the seventh stage of the orange period of increased danger that bees can fly away (swarm out), comes when there are no eggs (open brood) at all in the hive. There are a queen and swarming queen cells, but no open brood in the hive. Queen has stopped laying eggs. In this case we need to take urgent measures that the bees do not fly away from the hive. The first and foremost, we need to put in the hive frames with open brood because bees must have work while the queen starts laying eggs again (bees will not leave open brood and will not fly away). The second, it is necessary to apply such measures as in the sixth stage. It helps to stop process of swarming. Also in this case, if you see that the bees can fly away at any moment today, you can apply the method of emergency prevent swarming ?Castling?. About this method watch in our video here.



This is all stages of preparing the colony of bees for swarming. The orange period of increased danger that bees will fly away ended. And the last eighth stage, shown as red line, swarm is flying out from the hive. In this stage we cannot do anything, except catching the swarm. If your bees had fly out, you missed how the bees in the colony did not work, the swarming queen cells were made, and the queen has stopped laying eggs.
The description of the swarming control is complete now. I want to add one more thing. Many people think that during the main flow the bees do not swarming. No, they are swarming, but less. It depends on the breed. That why we need to continue to control the whole process of preparing bees for swarming in hives during main flow too.
If we want that the colony of bees will work at full strength during the main flow, it is necessary to keep the bees on stage 3-4 of the safe green period of preparation of the colony for swarming, until the beginning of the main flow. If the bees did not enter the orange period of increased danger that bees can fly away before the beginning of the main flow (it means that bees did not think about swarming), they will be maximally productive during main flow.