BBKA Forum

British Beekeepers Association Official Forum 

  • Swarm prevention without splitting

  • Beginners forum, ask beekeeping related questions and get help from other experienced beekeepers. Please use the Search Feature please to avoid duplicated threads
Beginners forum, ask beekeeping related questions and get help from other experienced beekeepers. Please use the Search Feature please to avoid duplicated threads
 #10723  by RDGBEES
 30 Apr 2021, 09:49

I'm a beginner bee keeper and have 2 hives. This is the maximum number of hives I can have due to space.

My question is how can I prevent swarming without creating an artificial swarm and increasing my hive numbers?

 #10725  by NigelP
 30 Apr 2021, 11:55
Once they get it into their heads to swarm can't really prevent it without doing some sort of split.
I would suggest you read up on Snelgrove method 2 and do a vertical split, that way your hive footprint will stay at 2.
 #10726  by Patrick
 30 Apr 2021, 12:12
Great question and welcome to the Forum. It’s always assumed everyone has lots of space and wants / needs more colonies.

To reduce the likelihood of swarming it’s the standard stuff around keeping younger queens, having less swarmy strains of queens, providing space ahead of their needs, swapping brood from over strong colonies to weaker ones, regular inspections to spot queen cells etc. However, bees swarm as a natural part of their reproductive cycle so swarming is also an expression of them doing well, so will be attempted at some stage. As a starter I would just concentrate on giving them enough space and regular inspections for queen cells.

Maybe your question is how if they try to swarm (ie start queen cells), do I stop them leaving without buying more hives? What many of us do is still make splits but do it vertically on the same hive stand. You can look up various splits online (Snelgrove, Snelgrove II, Demaree, Pagden) but most are based on version of separating the queen and brood. That way, all you need is an extra brood box with frames and an extra crown board to its feed holes blocked off and a notch cut out the rim to act as a entrance - known as a split board.

You do your swarm split but the artificial swarm box instead of being to one side just goes on the top of your existing hive stack, split board with entrance slot 90 degrees to the normal entrance and the new brood box over that. Simples.

Minimal extra kit, and effective. Once they have settled down, they are on the same stack so easy to unite hack. You can do other things but more options are not always helpful! I currently use the Snelgrove II method described by Wally Shaw, as its reliable and simple. Hope that helps.
 #10728  by RDGBEES
 30 Apr 2021, 12:27
That has really eased my anxiety regarding splits without increasing the number of hives. I really appreciate you guys taking the time to reply thank you
 #10744  by Kris1978
 03 May 2021, 11:25

On a similar subject I did a walk away split last week. They seem to be doing ok - I say walk away I have this week added some addition frames of foundation as they have built up a little - but my question is the hive I took the split from are still wanting to swarm.

They have built more Queen cells, they have eggs in them & appear determined to go. I have given them more space with 2no supers on the hive. One of them is 3/4 full already.

The question is do I now let them swarm or carry on removing the Queen cells? Am I just better to let them do what they want to do early as opposed to having a problem a month on from now when the urge is still there?
 #10746  by NigelP
 03 May 2021, 18:00
I would suggest you need to do some sort of swarm control on them. Giving more space when they are determined to swarm doesn't help. You need to wait out the scout bees (responsible for swarming urge) to turn into foragers,
I'm a big fan of Snelgrove and various variations of his method. If you read his method 2 (when swarm cells are present) stick the queen with the swarm cells away from the flying bees and all you queen cells will be torn down.
Too good to be true .......but it works (so far) 100% of the time in my hands,
 #10749  by AdamD
 04 May 2021, 09:24
Welcome to the forum Kris;
There are a different ways that a walkaway split can be performed - Do I assume that 'your' walkaway split means that the flyers are now no longer with the parent colony? In which case the swarming urge should reduce although it can take a few days, so a removal of queencells could be tried - as long as you don't miss one! If you have split the colony in two and a lot of the flyers are still with the queen, then the 'splitting' has not been severe enough to change the colony's behaviour in which case I would consider moving the queenright colony to lose the flyers into the other colony that's raising a queen. Or use a Snelgrove board if you have one.