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Author Topic: takeing a queen out half in the flow  (Read 1082 times)
hardtime
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« on: December 25, 2008, 09:15:33 PM »

i read this on here on another pest .taking the queen out half way thou the flow will give u more honey and might stop swarming to. how knows more about this?Huh??
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BjornBee
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« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2008, 09:41:27 PM »

There are different techniques, but they all have to do with the concept of taking the queen out as well as (all or most) of the open larvae, and leaving the capped brood, and all bees in the original location.

What will happen is.....

The bees will have no larvae to feed, which is a major drain on stores, thus placing all the nectar collected in honey supers. Keep in mind, that the best way to maximize this management strategy, is to knock the hive down from two boxes to one. All the field bees, as well as those maturing, will continue to collect nectar.

You as the beekeeper can dictate as to whether you want them to build their own queen cell, by a frame of eggs left behind, or introduce a queen 10-14 days after you removed the queen. If you go longer than that, you run the risk of developing laying workers.

This technique can not only make the hive more honey, but also allow you to start a new colony by the splitting action. And swarming can also controlled.

Some will argue that honey collected is honey collected, and by doing this, your splitting resources, etc. But it's a technique that allows you to accomplish several things at once, while allowing you to collect in honey supers, more of the spring higher quality honey.

I have seen hives used with this by just removing the queen, but backfilling the brood chamber usually results, while the bees are making new queens. I have also seen all open brood removed, and IF used with compressing the boxes to one less, than it can also work. I have seen removal all brood and replaced with foundation, but this seems like a waste since the bees will use as much resources drawing comb.

Many practice poor swarming prevention by splitting right before the main flow, and lessening their honey crop. But the same results of swarm control can be done by the above items. I probably do a little of all the methods I mentioned since I build lots of nucs, etc.

Many times, I am doing such things out of need, but after reading how these techniques were used by honey producers years ago and benefits were to be gained, I kind of keep it in my mind as I use some of these strategies, while knowing I'm accomplishing several things at once.

Which one is BEST, or what the exact timing should be, I am not sure. I do not pay attention to honey all that closely.

I am not sure where I first read about this technique. But I'll look for some references.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2008, 06:11:10 AM »

IMO, if you want to do this, the timing should be two weeks BEFORE the flow, not mid flow.  First the seldom swarm DURING the flow, so if you wait until the flow is going you will get no help on swarming as that is probably past.  Aslo two weeks before frees up nurse bees for the start of the flow to gather nectar.  One week sounds good in theory, but most of the experts on a cut down split (which is taking advantage of the same principle) recommend two weeks before.  Even AT the flow doesn't work badly.  Any earlier is not good at all as far as maximizing yields.  Any later is not AS good.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2008, 09:06:53 AM »

MB,

Around here, the main flow is 6 weeks long, give or take a week. If you split and remove the queen 2 weeks prior, than the bees will see a decline, about 32 days later, into a 56 day period of main flow. So if you remove a queen, 21 days later her brood completely hatches out, and then a down turn in numbers, (Less than that IF you removed the open brood), and the bees will become field bees about 12 days later. After that point, you will see a decline in bees numbers as well as forage numbers. All effecting honey crop.

The ramifications of pre-flow splitting, can easily go wrong. Requeening part way through the flow, many times can not go correctly. And associated problems can easily erase any foreseen gains by such manipulations.

People act as if there is NO swarm control beyond being at the mercy of other forces beyond what one control by the "splitting". What would you be doing without splitting? What other manipulations can be used? So you use these same procedures until such time as you split half way through the flow.

And this repeated idea, that bees will swarm pre-flow, or post-flow, but NOT during a flow, is about as far from what I see as the truth. And studies clearly show that nectar flow, influences swarming. If your bees are swarming prior to the main flow, during the early spring buildup period, you should practice better swarm prevention and management techniques. That better skill will allow a better crop. Too many beekeepers say right before the flow "OH my gosh, my hives are packed, I think they will swarm, what should I do?" But isn't that what you strive to have going into the main flow? And the standard reply is "Split them". Of course, many times, bees will still swarm anyways later due to the stimulative nature of the on-coming flow. So  a beekeeper who relies on splitting as the sole swarm control at the beginning of the flow, lessens his hives ability to make the most honey, and then loses half his bees anyways later on. What a waste.

The idea that swarm control is nothing more than waiting till the bees buildup in numbers, and split, let them buildup and split, accomplishes little IMO. But that is what some do, and it's also the message sent many times. I guess if swarm control with little actual production of honey is desired, this is effective. 

Around here, the main flow is pretty much May and June. And I caught MANY swarms during this period of time. You may get an occasional swarm in April, but not many. And July and August are dry and periods of dearth. Swarming lessens during this period. But during the main flow of May and June, one can hardly suggest that bees will not swarm in a flow. 

Yes, beekeepers do knockdown splits prior to the flow. And yes, they may actually see a lessening of the amount of swarming. But the goal of this conversation was honey production. And going into the flow with as many bees as possible is what gets you that. If I can get my bees half way through the flow, and they swarm after that, than that still gives me the best chances for a good harvest. And losing a swarm on the downside of the flow, is not a negative. It impacts nectar very little and can actually lessen the amount of nectar the bees eat and use.

And IMO, way too many beekeepers split right before the flow, and lessen their honey crop, for the sole reasoning of swarming. Which is a indication of POOR beekeeping. What?....A beekeeper is expected to go in and do timely splits pre-flow, in attempts to lessen swarming, but can not go in and look for queen cells on a 9 day rotation? If I go in and see swarm cells in a busting at the seams hive, those same techniques will come in handy and I can split, remove the queen, and any number of things. But that same busting at the seam hive, will outproduce a hive that was split prior to the flow.

And I think that the term "splitting" is not the same as some of the manipulations that come under ideas as removing a queen.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2008, 10:30:51 AM by BjornBee » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2008, 10:47:02 AM »

last spring was my first year with my bees .i had 6 hves and  thought that was what u were to do just lay back and let them swarm.i have learn that most of the honey here in va. is made by the bees in spring                         . know in spring  i am going to keep a eye on build up ..give lot of room...take honey off maybe fames at a time  if i have to.                   i know last spring in middle of may i looked in one hive at was packed with honey  i did not a thing let them swarm.  after thay swarmed about a month i looked in no  honey ...   that will not happen this year... hardtime  here in VA.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2008, 11:29:03 AM »

hardtime,
"packed with honey" could mean a couple things. Packed with honey...in the supers is one thing. Packed with honey....in the brood chamber, is another. Beekeepers are hive managers. And getting the bees to pack it in supers and NOT the brood chamber is key. The brood chamber in May for your area, should be almost completely full of brood, with the queen not restricted by honey, which IS a reason for swarming.

There may also be something else happening in that hive you mentioned. I never had a honey packed hive one month and had an empty hive the next month, due solely for the reason of it swarming.
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« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2008, 03:25:34 PM »

about swarming in may ..  when bees are building up fast  could  the beekeeper  put on deeps for suppers  and use a strip of  wax to get them starded  will that give them room  to stop a swarm and still get alot of honey to. 
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BjornBee
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« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2008, 03:51:08 PM »

about swarming in may ..  when bees are building up fast  could  the beekeeper  put on deeps for suppers  and use a strip of  wax to get them starded  will that give them room  to stop a swarm and still get alot of honey to. 

There is no way to actually stop swarming. Swarming prevention, and regardless of the strategy, will decrease the chances of a swarm, but nothing will prevent them. (unless you remove all queens and they have no possibility to swarm.)

Healthy colonies will swarm. It's the perpetuation of the species, and is natures urge you are fighting. So it's more of a balancing act, trying to keep the strongest most productive hives, all the while trying to keep them from swarming.

It has been said that hives left to their own, will almost swarm 100%, and multiple times. So if you can suppress swarming thorough various techniques, to say something less than 50 %, your probably doing OK. Most beekeepers do not even realize their hives swarm. But swarming, and queen supercdure, happens more than most realize.

I have read the comments that if you do this, or do that, that swarming will be stopped. And I have yet to find any foolproof method to keep strong healthy colonies from swarming.

So what you do is use good swarm prevention, go in and look at least a minimum of every 9 days during swarm season, and utilize the resources the hives gives you. I do not think that finding swarm cells or having to deal with a hive about to swarm is a negative. It's just something to deal with. But not doing anything and having half your bees fly away, while wondering why they did not go into that swarm trap, is a real waste.
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« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2008, 04:36:54 PM »

Hive management of swarm pervention works to a degree.  BjornBee is correct in saying a swarm reduction to 50% is probably a good track record.  Also, a hive can swarm more than once and even in successive months.  May, June, July, and August, and I've actually had hive that did that.  A hive can swarm, the beekeeper can look in the hive, at the number of bees etc, and swear the swarm didn't come from his hive as it looks just like it did when he checked it a week prior.  Bees are very accomplished slight-of-hand magicians when it comes to hiding queen cells.

Now, with that said, there are things a beekeeper can do the reduce the likelyhood of swarming.
1.  Timely supering, don't let the bees get to cramped or honey bound, bees busy building comb are less likely to swarm.
2.  Splits, where the old queen is removed to a new hive and the old hive grows a new queen or is requeened, is an imitation of a swarm and can prevent actual uncontrolled swarming as the beekeeper dictates the swarm.
3.  A walkaway split, where the new hive grows the queen, will reduce cramping in the old hive but will not neccessarily prevent swarming, just delay it.  But the infusion of new frames to draw out reduces the chances of an immediate swarm.
4.  Keeping the brood chamber open, that is, moving foundation into the brood chamber and honey frames into the supers, will reduce the likelyhood of swarming as bees are reluctant to swarm when building comb in the brood chamber because the brood chamber isn't complete.
5.  A scatter-split, where one or 2 frames are removed from several hives into a new single hive, can accomplish all of the above.  It also gives the beekeeper the advantage of a full strength hive at the time of split.

All the above are or should be part of a swarm management plan for your bees.  Commercial beekeepers are more likely to use the scatter split to build hive numbers and bee count where it is important for pollination (ie Almonds).  Hobby beekeepers are more apt to use 1 or more of the others.  I try to use the type I think is best for the conditions, which includes the weather, month, flow condition, etc.

Hopefully this will give you a better understanding of swarming and the control there of.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2008, 04:56:58 PM »

I agree with what Brian said.

There is one additional item to consider.

Studies have shown, that a first year queen, that being a queen going through her first winter, will swarm half as likely as a two year old queen. (A queen going through her second winter) Natures knows the odds, and what allows for the best chances for hive survival. And except for beekeepers preventing it from happening, colonies will replace older queens at the first chance they can. Which many times is with supercedure in conjuction with swarming, as soon as the nectar flow stimulates the bees to do so.

Keep younger queens, and have less swarming. It's that simple.
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