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  • Keith Lang

Beekeeping brood box management and swarm control.



A large swarm of bees in a tree near Mackay.

Spring is the time to inspect your hives and do any brood box management to prevent your bees from swarming. When bees swarm, the queen will leave the colony with about half of the worker bees in search of a new 'hive'. This can cause problems in residential areas as bees can move anywhere from trees to inside house walls, and people often fear a moving colony of bees.


Why bees swarm.



Swarming happens naturally with bees, including in the wild, it is the way bees reproduce their colonies. They do this due to crowding in the brood box and spring is the time you will start to notice bees on the move.


The queen bee leaves the hive and is supported in flight by her worker bees due to her size making flying more difficult. The bees tend to settle on trees but have been known to settle on other objects such as fences, boats and cars nearby. The swarm will remain there for one to two days on average while the worker bees search for a new home.



How to prevent your bees swarming and spring hive care.



Brood management and hive inspection are your best defence against your bees swarming. You need to make sure your bees have enough space, and if you do see overcrowding or other signs the hive is getting ready to swarm (such as additional queen cells with royal jelly) you can take these simple steps to reduce the risk of losing the swarm.



-Remove excess honey and pollen stores to create more space. These frames can be kept in the freezer and put back into the hive when needed.


-Spilt your hive by creating a nuc hive. This can be done by removing sealed brood frames with plenty of nurse bees and adding a new queen.


-Add an additional honey super to give the bees more room to move and reduce overcrowding.




A swarm that was caught using a swarm trap from nearby hives.

In the case you miss the signs of a swarm, it is always good to have a swarm trap nearby to catch the colony. In addition to checking for overcrowding in the hive, now is also the perfect opportunity for a full health inspection of your hive to check for disease and hive beetles.









What to do if you find a swarm of bees.


Swarms are mostly quiet and unlikely to sting unless being provoked. People often fear swarms, but they are often decile due to the fact they have fed up in preparation for swarming. If you come across a swarm, it is best to call an experienced beekeeper to come and remove them, do not spray or have pest control kill the colony.


If you find a swarm in the Mackay region and are unsure of what to do, give Keith a call for advice 0408162632.




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