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Author Topic: What are the signs of swarming?  (Read 4015 times)

Offline Mklangelo

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What are the signs of swarming?
« on: March 09, 2008, 04:34:39 PM »
It's still very cold in Wisconsin but I was wondering if there any signs prior to the warmer weather that will tell me if my colonies might swarm as soon as the weather permits them leaving.


Thanks!

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Offline MrILoveTheAnts

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Re: What are the signs of swarming?
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2008, 04:37:00 PM »
Queen cells.

Offline buzzbee

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Re: What are the signs of swarming?
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2008, 04:42:03 PM »
I don't think they will swarm until a good flow,then they will backfill the broodnest with nectar and pollen before leaving.

Offline Cindi

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Re: What are the signs of swarming?
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2008, 11:25:52 AM »
Mklangelo.  I know that when the season begins here, we are to check the colonies every 10 days for queen cells.  If queen cells are in the process, the mind to swarm has been set, there are measures to take once the queen cells have been begun.

The queen stops laying eggs when swarm preparations are in process, she becomes thinnner so she can take flight with the bunch of bees, the bees don't work as hard.  The bees govern all that is going on in the hive, even the feeding of the queen to make her skinny.  You will hear more comments, you will have to put two and two together, it is the time of year when the beekeeper must be very aware of what is going on in the hive.  Good luck, have a wonderful and best of this beautiful day, Cindi
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Offline KONASDAD

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Re: What are the signs of swarming?
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2008, 11:36:44 AM »
They will begin to make the decision to swarm about 8 weks before you see the most obvious signs, queen cells. By then, its usually too late, they have made up their minds. Prior to the flow begining, you need to start preventative measures. Mostly, insure the queen has ample room to lay(checkerboarding, ULB pholosophy). If they starting to backfill, they are preparing to swarm. I would highly suggest you look at MB's site for detailed info. I must have read that portion of his site about twenty times and still feel like I know nothing. Also, young queens swarm less, which is usually a fall manipulation.
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Offline Mklangelo

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Re: What are the signs of swarming?
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2008, 06:22:49 AM »
Mklangelo.  I know that when the season begins here, we are to check the colonies every 10 days for queen cells.  If queen cells are in the process, the mind to swarm has been set, there are measures to take once the queen cells have been begun.

The queen stops laying eggs when swarm preparations are in process, she becomes thinnner so she can take flight with the bunch of bees, the bees don't work as hard.  The bees govern all that is going on in the hive, even the feeding of the queen to make her skinny.  You will hear more comments, you will have to put two and two together, it is the time of year when the beekeeper must be very aware of what is going on in the hive.  Good luck, have a wonderful and best of this beautiful day, Cindi

Thanks Cindi, but I can't really look in there right now, it will chill em too much.  Were going to have mid to upper 40's on the 12th though, when I might cook some of that sugar mixture and give em' a snack just to be on the safe side.

Good idea also Konasdad.  I'll have to spend some time on MB's site.  This is my first spring with existing colonies so it's time for more brand new experiences.  All colonies are alive, but I'm guessing that late winter is really crunch time since if they are running low on stores, now is the critical time.  I think I'll feed em' tomorrow just to be safe.

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Offline KONASDAD

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Re: What are the signs of swarming?
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2008, 11:10:11 AM »

Good idea also Konasdad.  I'll have to spend some time on MB's site.  This is my first spring with existing colonies so it's time for more brand new experiences.  All colonies are alive, but I'm guessing that late winter is really crunch time since if they are running low on stores, now is the critical time.  I think I'll feed em' tomorrow just to be safe.
If your weather is anything like mine this is the hardest part of winter. They start, stop, get caught out of cluster position w/ quick temp changes, stores are low, some flowers blooming but cant get out. List goes on. This is time I worry most
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Offline Understudy

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Re: What are the signs of swarming?
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2008, 12:13:43 AM »
Look for a huge mass of Drone cells.

That can be sign that the hive may go into swarm mode.

Sincerely,
Brendhan

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Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: What are the signs of swarming?
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2008, 12:32:28 AM »
I don't think they will swarm until a good flow,then they will backfill the broodnest with nectar and pollen before leaving.

They will backfill the combs in the broodnest before they swarm and then take most of it with them. 
Early Signs to watch for signaling swarming:
1.  Lack of empty combs, and all combs being filled.
2.  Backfilling of broodnest other than at summers end.
3.  No available space--forgot to super or at least pull full frames and replace with empty frames.
4.  Sudden increase in burr comb building.
5.  Choked brood nest--little or no arc of honey around top of frames, also laying eggs in burr comb.
6.  Bearding outside of hive even on moderately warm days.
7.  If you wait until you see a queen cell you've waited 3 weeks too long.

Notice that most of those swarming signs can be prevented by keeping an open brood nest and timely supering.  Note also that burr comb can be much more than an irritation.  Proper ventilation plays its part too.
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: What are the signs of swarming?
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2008, 08:03:31 AM »
>2.  Backfilling of broodnest other than at summers end.

There's the big one that you get the earliest.
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Offline CBEE

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Re: What are the signs of swarming?
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2008, 09:26:11 AM »
Thats some good info there Brian.
Temps got into the 60's yesterday and I only had time to pop the top and take a quick peek into the top deep. I noticed they were burr combing what seemed to be everything in sight.

Offline Understudy

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Re: What are the signs of swarming?
« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2008, 12:14:59 PM »
Just for clarification.

By backfilling the broodsnest you mean that they are storing honey in what was brood comb?

Sincerely,
Brendhan

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Offline SteveSC

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Re: What are the signs of swarming?
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2008, 01:24:34 PM »
" What are the signs of swarming ? "

Most of the time a dead give away is when you hear the beekeep say, " oh, sh%$ ".  That's from personal experience  :-D.

Just a bit of humor.....sorry.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: What are the signs of swarming?
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2008, 10:09:11 PM »
>By backfilling the broodsnest you mean that they are storing honey in what was brood comb?

Yes.
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Offline jimmy_in_texas

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Re: What are the signs of swarming?
« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2008, 11:17:07 PM »
I think I have swarm sign, its been warming up here in texas the past few weeks and there is a good bloom of various flowers going on, I only get to see my bees just before dark during the week and on weekends and due to some health issues and bad timing with weather, havent opened up my hive in over two months,  I came home this evening and found quite a large beard hanging on the landing board.  the hive is 1-1/2 feet off the ground and the beard was as wide as the landing board and maybe 3 inches from the ground.

I have two other hives set up and waiting for april 5 when I will pick up two 3# packages already ordered from R weaver.  I really dont have room for a fourth hive.

I hate to lose so many bees, this would be my first year to hopefully get a honey crop from this hive.

are they as good as gone?


Offline Jerrymac

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Re: What are the signs of swarming?
« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2008, 12:09:57 PM »
Bearding? I never see bearding.

Perhaps if at all possible you need to get in there and open up the brood nest with some empty frames. Give them something to do.
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: What are the signs of swarming?
« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2008, 08:25:24 PM »
Bearding is a sign that they are either crowded or hot.  More supers takes care of crowded.  More ventilation (like a SBB, a slatted rack and/or a top entrance) will take care of the hot as much as you can.  If you take care of both of those and they are still bearding, then it's just hot and there really isn't anything more you can do.  It's not a sign of swarming other than lack of ventilation and crowding are two contributing factors in swarming.
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Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: What are the signs of swarming?
« Reply #17 on: March 16, 2008, 12:59:39 AM »
Bearding is a sign that they are either crowded or hot.  More supers takes care of crowded.  More ventilation (like a SBB, a slatted rack and/or a top entrance) will take care of the hot as much as you can.  If you take care of both of those and they are still bearding, then it's just hot and there really isn't anything more you can do.  It's not a sign of swarming other than lack of ventilation and crowding are two contributing factors in swarming.


Yes, exactly.  You can have bearding from bad ventilation and overcrowding without inducing swarming.  For example if you've just supered a hive with foundationless frames and the new frame space is not sufficient to hold all the bees due to lack of comb for them to stand on they will still beard but probably not swarm.  The list I posted above is a list of indicators, like any such list the more that apply the more likely swarming is. 

The 3 most manageable items are ventilation SSB or SSR, top entrances, and keeping a open brood chamber by pulling the frames on each side of the brood nest and replacing them with undrawn frames.  The key is that bees still building a brood nest are less likely to swarm.  If the brood chamber becomes clogged the hive will swarm regardless to size or time of year (except winter).
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Offline Cindi

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Re: What are the signs of swarming?
« Reply #18 on: March 16, 2008, 01:15:36 AM »
Quote
and keeping a open brood chamber by pulling the frames on each side of the brood nest and replacing them with undrawn frames. 

Brian, did you mean pulling frames of capped brood from each side of the brood nest or just the next frames of drawn comb?  Got a little bit of non-understanding going on here with me.  Have a beautiful, greatest of these days, Cindi
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Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: What are the signs of swarming?
« Reply #19 on: March 16, 2008, 02:00:17 AM »
Quote
and keeping a open brood chamber by pulling the frames on each side of the brood nest and replacing them with undrawn frames. 

Brian, did you mean pulling frames of capped brood from each side of the brood nest or just the next frames of drawn comb?  Got a little bit of non-understanding going on here with me.  Have a beautiful, greatest of these days, Cindi

No, unless you are doing a split never pull brood frames for other than occasional inspection with the following exception. If you are using mediums or want a 3rd deep super of brood it is permissable to remove brood frames from the outside of the brood frames of the other 2 brood areas up into the center of the 3rd super creating a brood chamber 4 frames wide. 

You want to pull the frames adjacent to the brood frames.  That would be most likely be frames 3 & 8 or 2 & 9 but if a good queen it could be frames 1 & 10.  Keeping the frames adjacent to the frames with eggs or brood in growth mode is what is known as keeping the brood chamber open. 
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