Maintaining Apiary Size

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by Unregistered-1427815803, Jun 26, 2004.

  1. This may be a stupid question, but I'd rather find out from you guys than learn from sad experience.
    I have two empty hives, and I plan on using one and keeping the other around just in case of a swarm. Two working hives is the absolute maximum number I want to deal with.
    Skipping lightly over discussions of swarm prevention, say I've got my two thriving hives and one of them swarms. I have nowhere to dump the swarm except a cardboard box. So there they are in the box or whatever is handy.
    I don't want my apiary to keep on growing into a massive bee metropolis. So my question is...how do you neatly, quickly, and humanely get rid of a captured swarm? The nearest beekeepers are 200 miles away, so sharing the blessing unfortunately isn't an option here.
    I assume the swarm, led by an old queen if I remember correctly, is less desirable than the superseding colony?
    Thanks for your help!!
     
  2. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    what you could do, to keep the colony without getting another hive, is to put one queen excluder over your brood chambers of the original hive, a piece of newspaper, another queen excluder, another set of hive bodies, another piece of newspaper, and then whatever supers were on the original hive. After a week, go in there and remove any paper remnants and one queen excluder. (there were two excluders to keep the queens from being able to reach one another, as they would initially kill one another through a single excluder. after some time, though, they get used to eachother's pheromones, and one excluder will keep each queen to her own brood chambers.) now you have a two-queen hive. (make sure there are entrances for the bees both above and below the queen excluder... I drill an entrance hole in each of my supers, and you could cut a 3/8 inch piece off the bottom of the front board of the bottom brood chamber for the upper queen. do this before assembling the brood chamber. now the bees have a traditional entrance. the alternative is to drill some 3/4 inch holes across the bottom of the hive body. this way bees won't have to enter the entire hive through the bottom, crawl all the way up through one brood chamber, through a queen excluder, through another brood chamber, through another possible queen excluder, through any full honey supers, and into the top to store their nectar, and then all the way back down, through and out, on each foraging trip. a hole in each super would make things much more efficient, and improve your honey yeilds.) In the fall, you can find the old queen, kill her, and remove the queen excluder. the bees will merge into one big, strong, healthy colony for overwintering. don't get rid of the bees, just run more than one colony in the same hive!

    sorry for the rambling nature of this post ;)

    justgojumpit
     

  3. Billy Bob131

    Billy Bob131 Active Member

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    OK did you ever think that if you didn't want to expand your hives you could leave the swarm alone and let it find another home?

    It's not what most beekeepers want but if you don't want to keep it then let it go.

    BB
     
  4. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    This is true, but i wouldn't advise letting a swarm go in a densely populated area, if it can be helped, because it will almost definitely find its new home in a neighbor's wall, which would definitely put a damper on public relations :rolleyes:

    In a more rural setting, the bees would be more likely to set up their hive in a tree hollow or abandoned shed.

    be careful though, Billybob. what you ask for may not be in the best interest of the person asking this question. if the neighbor would complain to the town that this beekeeper can't contain his bees, which are ending up residing in the neighbor's wall, causing the necessity for a costly extraction, the town could be inclined to ban beekeeping altogether. Not good.

    I guess this all depends on where you live, and who your neighbors are.

    justgojumpit
     
  5. Billy Bob131

    Billy Bob131 Active Member

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    Well put justgojumpit. If they live in a populated area. With remarks like “So my question is...how do you neatly, quickly, and humanely get rid of a captured swarm?” I would rather think letting them go is neater, quicker, and more humane than some of the other options that may drift into someone’s mind.

    Of course “The nearest beekeepers are 200 miles away, so sharing the blessing unfortunately isn't an option here.” This may not be true; beekeepers are known to “hide” their apiaries. You should try to do a search to see if there really are no other beekeepers in your area. Look for beekeeping associations or clubs, or you can contact your county extension agent.

    Most states do have laws which allow the beekeeper some leeway. i.e. When the bees leave the hive they no longer belong to the beekeeper, but as justgojumpit said, public relations should be considered ether way. I do have hives in a somewhat populated area…and have full intentions to remove any swarm/hive that may end up in a neighbor’s house, shed, whatever (free of charge). Beekeepers should be well versed in removing honey bees from places that they are not wanted for this fact alone, or be ready to assist in paying for the removal/extermination fee that will come after.

    The public has the wrong idea about honey bees already and it is our job to educate them to the better, not make it worse.

    BB
     
  6. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    You might be surprised how many beekeepers are in your area. People worry about hives, so many beekeepers DO hide their hives! Besides, what people don't know about won't be vandalized.

    It wouldn't hurt to join a beekeepers association, it might give you a place to sell any swarms. Don't worry about the age of the queen, once the bees have set up a new hive they will eventually supercede the old queen.
     
  7. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you're sure that you don't want to make increase, here are a couple of other options-

    1. Make sure that you cut out all the developing queen cells during periods of build up so that no new queens can hatch. If you do this you might then have to purchase replacement queens as needed.

    2. Catch the swarms, then kill the queen and put the rest of the bees back into one of your hives.

    I don't really recommend either of these options- I would try to maintain the hives so that they stay strong but do not build up to the point of wanting to swarm. My own hives rarely swarm because I pull out some of the brood frames whenever they seem to be building up too fast. I bet you'll find that you are underestimating the demand for bees in your area and that you can find a buyer if you wind up with more bees than you really want. Check with your state bee inspector, around here they always know who needs bees.

    Good luck with your hives.
     
  8. Lynn Osborn

    Lynn Osborn New Member

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    While everyone has his way of doing things I would never let a swarm go or reduced a colony in strength by removing brood or bees unless I was making a split. Strong colonies will produce a lot more honey that weaker colonies so you want them as strong as you can make them.
    Swarms can be used to draw out foundation so put them into a new box with 10 frames of foundation and a feeder. In a week the box will be drawn out and the queen will be laying again. If you are in an area without many bees the chances of your new queen getting mated are slim. After a week you can cut out all the queen cells and place the new box with the old queen and swarm on the original hive.
    If you don't have a new box use one of the brood chambers with only frames of capped brood, pollen or honey to house the swarm. The idea is to simulate natural conditions that would be found after swarming. When a swarm finds a new home there is no uncapped brood and the queen has to start laying again. The original stand has capped queen cells and open brood. After 7 days there will be only capped brood so if you removed the queen cells they will have to accept the old queen and her new brood nest. Past the swarm season they will work normally for the old queen which you can replace by ordering a new one later. I wouldn't advise trying to raise your own unless there are plenty of drones in the area. You would need at least 200 drones flying and you may need a lot more than that since most drones you see in the hive are not mature. You need about 20 hives with drones to have sufficient drones flying to find your queen and get her properly mated. Otherwise you may find the queen poorly mated or making one to many mating flights and getting picked off by a bird or dragonfly.