It was about this time last year I walked in on a swarm. Turns out it was two swarms, but I managed to re-hive them and eventually got two new colonies from them, two colonies that were destroyed by shrews during the winter, but that’s another story.
I don’t recommend the bucket-and-dump method of re-hiving a swarm, but I had to act fast and didn’t have time to gather up the proper gear.
If I’d discovered the swarm cells a few days earlier, I would have prevented the swarm (in theory) by transferring the queen with several frames of bees to a new hive box, leaving the brood and swarm cells behind — essentially simulating the end result of an actual swarming. A queen emerges from one of the swarm cells left behind, then kills all the queens in the remaining swarm cells and eventually mates and all is right with the world. In theory.
I know some people destroy all but one or two of the remaining swarm cells, thus reducing the likelihood of what some call swarm movement. I’ve also moved the brood and swarm cells to a new location instead and that seems to work in a pinch.
I’ve read about other methods of dealing with swarm cells, but they all seem too complicated to me, too much messing about. I like my method because it’s a simple one-time procedure and you’re done.
How do other people deal with swarm cells? If anyone still reads this blog, feel free to chime in.
I move the original hive containing the queen cells to one side and reduce the queen cells down to one or two. Just one uncapped cell is safest to prevent any swarming. Then put a new hive in the original location with the queen and some stores. This replicates swarming conditions of a queen and foragers, who will return to the original location. Pretty similar to your solution.
That’s interesting, Emily, and it makes sense. I’ve spoken to other beekeepers about this and most of the responses are variations on a theme, which is to separate the queen from the swarm cells / queen cells and reduce the number of queen cells down to one or two.
The sentence you wrote that stands out for me: “Then put a new hive in the original location with the queen and some stores.” Keeping the queen in the original location so most of the foragers stick with her makes sense. But putting her in a new hive, one that isn’t saturated with brood pheromone, makes even more sense.
You’re a genius, Emily.
Thanks – maybe I would be a genius if I had come up with it, but this is the most commonly used form of artificial swarming used in the UK. It’s known as the Pagden method: http://barnsleybeekeepers.org.uk/pagden.html