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Natural tendency to swarm - does it help if I leave an empty beehive close by?

 
pollinator
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My first season keeping bees. The hive I have seems vigorous, they have filled one super already, lots of activity at the entrance.

At the beekeeping course I am attending they teach us to check on the hives weekly and are very concerned about swarming.

I am a bit puzzled: if a beehive has its own smell, lifting out things just to "check" is going to dilute the smells of the hive, expose them to sunlight and cause a war mode.

So I am questioning if good beekeeping really should mean opening the hive and  taking out frames to inspect what is going on.

What if I keep a fully furnished empty beehive with waxed frames close by? Would that let me do less inspections? If they decide to swarm, they could just move to the empty beehive?

Aa I understand, swarming is a natural reaction to overpopulation?
 
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What type of box/frames are using?
I am using a horizontal hive with Layens style frames, inspecting hive every few weeks to see if new frames need to be added so the bees do not run out of room.
With the horizontal hive its probably best to split the colony into two before they swarm. Another option would be setting out a swarm trap nearby with some frames of empty comb or foundation, some propolis smeared on the side of the trap, and Lemon grass oil which mimics the smell of a queen.
 
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My opinion is that swarming is not so much in response to overpopulation but to overcrowding. In other words, do they have room to expand into? How many hive boxes are you using for each colony? Two large boxes for bees & at least one super for honey is typical with Langstroth hives.

A swarm trap might help recapture any that do swarm. No guarantees. If you have reason to believe that a swarm is imminent it might be better to make a split first. Personally I just let swarms go where they want to help bees spread into nature.

I suggest not opening them any more than is necessary. Once you gain some experience observing them from the outside is almost as informative.  I wouldn't worry about diluting smells or causing war mode by opening them.  I worry more about accidentally squishing the queen or otherwise disrupting their normal activities.
 
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Thanks a million!

I live in the North where bees do not survive in the nature, so we do not try to catch feral bees. There simply are none. The only swarms we have are escapees from a beekeeper, and they are treated as a PR problem as they scare people!?!?

So on my beekeeping course there was no talk about swarm traps. As I searched for information, I found that a Farrar 2-box hive with waxed frames seems pretty ideal. (I use Farrar, or as Americans would say, a shallow Langstroth).

The advice was: " if your goal is to offer a last-ditch opportunity to catch swarms from your own hives, place the stand at least 750 feet away from your bee yard."  
20220520_215222.jpg
Farrar beehives. Here in May, with only one super and two boxes for bees
Farrar beehives. Here in May, with only one super and two boxes for bees
 
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Swarming is complex. It is triggered by both overcrowding (as suggested above) but also as a reproductive urge.

As a new beekeeper I would DEFINITELY recommend getting into your hives regularly. Not because the bees need it, but because you as a beekeeper need the experience. You learn a lot from the bees, especially if you track them week to week.

As for your concern about smells/pheromones... yes, in theory they get diluted by opening them. IN practice this makes no difference. The only time I would be concerned is in late summer/early autumn when there is no nectar flow. Colonies start trying to rob each other at about that time.
 
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I recommend looking for Tom Seeley's bait hive recommendations. I don't have the document to hand, but it's been posted here at least a few times previously.

some main ideas: ~25 liters volume, contain previously occupied comb and/or wax moth debris, placed at least one meter above the ground.
 
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one solution I've seen to "catch your own swarms" is the Russian bee scion, or swarm magnet.

The idea is to create an enticing resting spot for a swarm that you can recover, instead of far up in a tree branch

There are several variations of the design:

http://www.susquehannabeekeepers.com/pdfs/Swarm_Seducer.pdf

https://theprospectofbees.wordpress.com/tag/russian-scion/

https://sustainablebeesblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/04/the-scion-an-essential-bee-yard-tool/
 
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Something you can do to prevent swarms is remove the extra queen cells — they look like peanuts hanging from the comb. This article https://bestbees.com/2021/06/04/backyard-beekeeping-swarm-prevention/ goes into more detail about what swarming is, how to catch a swarm, and even what to do if it seems inevitable your hive is going to swarm. I recommend giving it a read if you want more information. Good luck!
 
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Michael Cox gave good answers.

To keep from swarming, you need to do two things:

1.  Make sure the queen has enough space to lay.  This may mean removing honey frames from the brood box and replacing with drawn comb or even foundation
2. Make sure there is enough space for the bees.  If you have a single box, and 5 frames of capped brood, you need to add a second box NOW.  1 frame of brood = 3 frames of bees.
3.  In the spring, look for queen cells.  If you find them, and especially if they are capped, you need to make a split NOW!  Don't wait a day, or it may be too late

Pull the queen and 3 frames of bees and put them in a nuc box, (or whatever box you have) and move them to the opposite side of your yard. You might want to give them a quart of sugar water to help them get started, but during the flow, this won't be needed.    Give them 2 frames of empby foundation, and they will draw comb like you've never seen.

Leave the 2 biggest queen cells in the original hive and they should have a new, laying queen in the next 3 weeks.   Look for eggs and larvae after 3-4 weeks.

Giving the bees space may slow the swarming instinct, but it won't stop it.   Best to make your own swarms by splitting.   You can always sell bees!  Might pay for some equipment.

This is very simplified, but hopefully it gives you some ideas.    Having a "swarm trap" isn't a bad idea either.
 
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