Swarming Biology of Honey Bees - swmsbeekeepers.org

Swarming Biology of Honey Bees - swmsbeekeepers.org

Events of Swarming Rapid growth in amount of worker brood Crowding of the colony Queen cup construction Queen

cell construction (10-15 days prior) Good weather Engorgement Exodus of Honey Causes of Swarming Dilution

Lack of queen pheromone of space for queen to lay eggs Abundance Genetic Age of resources strain of bees

of queen Environmental conditions Pre-Swarm Conditions Nu m b er o f cells Colony Growth worker

12000 10000 8000 6000 4000 2000 0 May June July drone

Aug. Sept. Oct. Crowded with Good Nutrition Timing of Swarming New York: May-June, peaks in June

Pennsylvania: May-June, peaks in late May Arkansas: April-May, peaks in early May Louisiana: March-May, peaks in April Many Queen Cups weeks from swarming

Getting Ready to Swarm Broodnest Time until Swarming Many queen cups go time, swarming in weeks Eggs

in cups will swarm in 8-10 days Capped cells any moment Swarm Cells located on bottom of combs (easily seen by tilting back brood boxes)

Emergency Queen Cells located anywhere, and they are usually shorter than swarm cells Queen cells being chewed down after a virgin queen has emerged It Already Swarmed! Broodnest Likely time of Swarm Open brood is present recent, 0-4 days

Sealed but no open brood more than 4-5 days No brood but there swarmed > 3 weeks, are remains of queen cells new queen not laying yet

Multiple eggs in cells > 28 days ago, new queen failed, laying workers Timing of Splits or Nucs 1. Wrong time waste of time, bees and money 2. Best time mid-spring but before major honey flow 3.

Good sign 1st drone flights and swarm season beginning 4. MUST have adequate food in all units that are budded or split from a hive General Rule: Earlier and Stronger Spilts Ensure Greater Success or Survival of Splits or Nucs Timing of Splits or Nucs 1. Earliest good pollen maples in Jan.

2. Begin feeding 50:50 syrup in Feb. March 3. Add protein supplement if pollen becomes intermittent (start end of Jan. March) 4. Must be prepared to split in March April to avoid swarming

Feeding Sucrose 33% Syrup: trickle; stimulates brood rearing 4.2 lbs. sucrose + 1 gallon water (makes 1.2 gallons syrup) 50% Syrup: spring feeding 8.3 lbs. sucrose + 1 gallon water (makes 1.6 gallons syrup)

Thick Syrup (67%): autumn feeding 16.6 lbs. sucrose + 1 gallon water (makes 2.3 gallons syrup) Feeding Colonies (division board) Bee Bread Pollen + Microflora Commercial Protein

Supplements Global Patties MegaBee BeePro Bee-Pol Feed-Bee Protein Supplements Place patties close to broodnest

Feed a light syrup at the same time; helps stimulate brood rearing Be careful in cooler periods! Measures of Quality

Increased brood production; colony growth Increased worker longevity Increased blood vitellogenin Boost

in immune functions (e.g. prophenol oxidase) Timing of Splits or Nucs 1. The best colony size for splits is 2-3 deeps full of bees and brood 2. Splitting can be governed by availability of QUEENS

3. Bees will respond best to feeding during the natural period of spring build-up How much to Feed 1. 1-2 gallons of sugar syrup during 3-4 weeks prior to splitting 2. One third pollen patty every 2-4 days for the

same period of time 3. Add empty combs to avoid becoming honey bound delicate balance between growing and crowding!

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