Swarms – a curse and a blessing.
Swarming is the result of the natural drive to reproduce – common to all animals – the colony as an organism wants offspring. Swarming is the mechanism.
Swarms can be a bitch. You loose bees, swarms move into other folks’ property creating problems for all.
Swarms can be great! It’s a natural drive, something like making honey and can be managed. But, how – exactly – to manage them is a continual struggle. Some try to stop swarms. Either by killing off or removing queen cells, adding space, making splits. But – sooner or later, one will get away. That’s why we put out swarm traps near our yards. The plan is to ‘catch’ those swarms that do get away. It’s a last ditch effort, but one most any responsible keeper makes.
Artificial swarms can help – if they satisfy the drive. That’s a tough one to meet. It also involves finding your queen! In it’s own right, an often frustrating exercise in futility. One option is something called a “Taranov Board” – look it up.
We used a Taranov Board and artificially swarmed our strongest colony. It worked! Or appears to. Seems I may have missed a detail. I didn’t smoke the hive before starting. Idea is this causes the foragers to engorge on honey. That gives the new “swarm” resources when they move into their new home. Just like a natural swarm. Thankfully, you can make up for it – as I have – by feeding and providing drawn comb. Gives ’em a head start.
The point? I’ve never heard of nor seen such a method before a couple weeks ago. It was mentioned as a ‘throw away’ comment in a thread about something totally different. Glad I looked, read and learned! As soon as I’m sure the new hive is established and taking off on it’s own, I’ve another candidate. As with most things, every time I do something – it gets better and easier.
So, 3 hives survived winter, 3 packages installed and growing, one split with a Taranov Board and I kept the last swarm caught. We’re up to 8 hives now! The yard is full.