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About Beezum swarm warning and preventing swarming

Why do bees swarm?

Swarming bees are the natural way for the species to reproduce and survive. As a beekeeper, you strive to maintain or increase the number of bee colonies without swarming through various management methods. Despite the beekeeper’s efforts, the bees sometimes swarm. Swarming means the queen, along with half the community of bees, flies away.

Swarm warning with Beezum eHive Heart

With Beezum eHive Heart you can easily monitor your hives and get swarm alerts.

The status message in your Beezum mobile phone app or web service shows if there is a risk of swarming.

Forecast for swarming

We use sound analysis to identify bee readiness for swarming. The standard frequency for fixed hives is up to 200 Hz. As the hive prepares for swarming, the frequency increases to 240 Hz. If the hive is in a swarming mood, the frequency will rise to over 270 Hz. If the frequency of the sound exceeds 300 Hz, the bee colony will soon appear (due to the current weather).

Amplitude: total noise from the hive. From these data, the activity of the hive or the response of the hive to various stimuli such as treatment, nectar laying, encroachment attack, and others can be read. Data range from a few units in winter to tens to hundreds for strong bee colonies in summer.

The curves above show indications for swarming how relative strength/intensity A(dB) versus frequency (Hz) increases over time for respectively 3 weeks, 5 days, and one day before swarming.

About swarming

Swarming bees are a phenomenon that can be seen when a large group of bees gathers and fly around together. One theory for why bees swarm is that there are too many nursing bees versus larvae to feed. When there is a surplus of bees and too few larvae to feed, bees may start swarming to find a new place to start a new colony. This can also be triggered by a lack of space for egg-laying.

Preparing for swarming reduces production

In the past, swarming was a natural part of the bee colony’s reproductive strategy, but today, as beekeepers, we try to prevent swarming to maximize the honey harvest. Once the bees are in a swarming mood, they must ensure the survival of the mother community by building queen cells and laying eggs in them. When the queen stops laying eggs and dieting to become airworthy, the rest of society waits for the queen’s cells to be covered. When this happens, about half of the community flies out with the help of food in the honey bladders. The queen joins the swarm and together they fly until they find a suitable place to start a new colony.

To prevent swarming with more space

To prevent swarming, beekeepers can make sure that bees have enough space and supers in good time. It is also a good idea to replace the queen after two seasons to minimize the risk of swarming. If the colony does start to prepare to swarm, you can try to handle the situation in the following way.

Move the community aside and put a new bottom on the old site. Put an empty brood chamber on the new bottom. Find the queen and hang the frame she walks on in the new brood chamber. There must be no queen cells on this frame. Hang a frame with a covered brood, feeders, and empty frames to fill the box.
The layer now standing to the side should have queen cells, the rest of the fry feed, and water. After 2 days, remove the brood frame that the old queen received and hang it in the new box. Now you have two colonies and the desire to swarm is gone.

Prevent swarming by wing clipping the queen

Another method of dealing with swarming is to mark the queen with a color dot and wing clip her. Wing clipping the queen makes her unable to fly, which can make it easier to find her and prevent her from following the swarm if the community swarms. In this case, the queen can fall to the ground and the swarm can return to the hive. If you are at home at the time, you can find the queen and create a new colony, or join it with another society that needs reinforcement if you don’t want to increase the number of colonies in your apiary.

Use barrier grids to reduce the risk of swarming

Another way to prevent swarming is to use a barrier screen under the brood chamber. This prevents the queen from following the swarm, causing the swarming bee to return to the hive after a while. This is a common way of handling swarming used by professional beekeepers and requires a custom-built bottom that allows the beekeeper to regulate whether or not the bees can pass through the barrier mesh. It is important to remember to open the gate regularly to let the new queen and the drones out, and to avoid the new queen killing the old queen.

Benefits of swarm alerting

So, swarming can be caused by many things, including lack of space, lack of food, aging queens, and some genetic predisposition in the bees. It is important for beekeepers to prevent swarming, as it can lead to a loss of honey harvest and a reduction in the overall number of bees in the community. This can be done by giving the bees enough space, replacing queens regularly, and using methods such as wing clipping and bar screens to prevent the queen from following the swarm. Cultivation of swarming bees can also help to prevent swarming.

Dealing with swarming bee colonies causes a lot of extra work and time. The time you can save with the Beezum eHive Heart.