Driving bees to make an artificial swarm.

I tried this method as an alternative to Warre´s method of artificial swarming for the case when:

1) The top box may not have viable eggs

2) Through the windows I can see obvious signs of queen cell construction in the 2nd box.

The Warre method of driving the bees down and leaving the top box on the original site would be a problem as a new queen could be produced. The old queen and the new potential queens would have been taken away to a new site, leaving only foragers returning to the old site with a box of comb and honey.

The method described takes the majority of the colony to the new site with the old queen and little comb. On the old site top two boxes remain with brood, stores and possibly the queen cells. It is populated by some nurse bees who refuse to be driving and by foragers returning to the original site.

With the use of the lift is very easy, with a minimum of flying bees and the bees easily driven upwards and contained within the hive.

I started from a populous Warre hive with three boxes. The top box full of honey reserves, the middle box with brood and sign of queen cells, and the bottom box with some comb initiated on the top bars.

1st roof and quilt is removed and the top two boxes are raised by the lift.

2nd the bottom box is removed

3rd, the lift is dropped, and an empty box is placed on top of the stack, and on that the previously removed bottom box with bees and a small amount of comb is now placed on the very top.

4th. the bees are driven by a little smoke from the bottom and a few minutes of drumming with sticks on the bottom box of the stack. Most of the bees are driven to the top.

5th. the bottom two boxes of the stack (the original top two with reserves and brood) are left at the site and the upper boxes removed to a new stand, using a mesh on the bottom and top during the transport to stop bees falling or flying out.

6th mosquiteros, quilts and roofs are used to cover both hives.

By the following day there was a regular flow of pollen to both hives. Some feed was given to the colony with the old site as they had no stores, although with the current level of foraging conditions, it would probably have been unnecessary.

Posted: Friday, May 8th, 2009 at 16:09 by Steve Ham in Beekeeping.

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3 Responses to “Driving bees to make an artificial swarm.”

  1. Becky Says:

    I’ve been tryign to create an artifical swarm since the season began as I want to increase my number of colonies.. but almost continual torrential rain has meant I’ve not been able to access the hives and do the manipulations. I had deliberately not put supers on one hive so the bees were crowded and would create queen cells in preparation for swarming.. I finally caved in last week as I was going away and wanted to make sure they didnt swarm in my absence, and have supered it now.. I still think I might get a chance to do it later in the season. V. interetsing to hear your experince with Warre hives..

    PS Alos doing abit of flying.. both on my own and in our new Niviuk Tattoo tandem….

  2. graham Says:

    how far do you move the top box with the old queen to prevent the bees returning to the original site, i have heard they will return from up to 3 miles away. ive made one mistake in making my warre hive in that i put thetop bars the wrong way round so viewing is not so good, live and learn. good start to the season.

  3. Lee Says:

    Keeping bees was on our agenda 10 yrs ago before moving down to SW France. It’s taken all this time to get on top of our construction and agricultural projects, so honey production is now topping the do list. It all seems pretty complicated at first, but my main worry is timing of the main workload, conicident with seasonal veg production.

    Anyway, I’m much encouraged by your feedback on Warré methods, and generally, doing things less commercially. Lower startup costs, less frequent interventions, lower disease/pest incidence (hopefully) are all factors which will help get it off the ground. Yeah!

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May 2009