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Swarm Prevention

A bit of planning helps

"Swarm Prevention" is the term used for the steps taken by the beekeeper to reduce the chances of swarming before the visual signs a colony is preparing to swarm are seen. "Swarm Control" is the action taken after the visible signs of the colony intending to swarm are seen. Some beekeepers think they mean the same thing, but they don't. I think swarm prevention is misleading and "Swarm Reduction" might be a more accurate term, but I won't try to change established terminology.

In my view, swarm prevention should be a major part of all management methods and I include some below:-

The Bees.

The above points are relevant to the types of bees that are kept. The good beekeeper will cull any colonies that show strong tendencies to swarm. In my opinion Bee Improvement should be a major part of all beekeeping management systems and selecting for lower swarming tendencies could be one characteristic.

Colony Management.

If you attend to the details above you have done as much as you can to reduce swarming. Regular inspections will still be needed and as soon as eggs appear in queen cells you will need to use some method of swarm control.

With the current queen problems, it has become common for a colony to swarm on supersedure cells if they are built during the summer. Similarly it is also likely that colonies will swarm on emergency cells. Swarm prevention will not prevent swarming in either situation, because the queen cells were not built under the swarming impulse.

Roger Patterson.

Page updated 17/11/2022