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A key part of the OTS system is doing artificial swarms on your overwintered colonies a week before swarm season hits in your location. At this point, nectar and pollen are beginning to come in, colonies have already been expanding for a couple months and getting strong enough to swarm soon with 4+ frames of brood or more along with building stores of pollen and honey. Left to itself, this colony is in good danger of swarming. In my area that’s from around May 7 to May 21, with the majority of swarms towards the beginning of that timeframe.

Rather than breaking up the old colony into two or three splits, just keep it all together with 1-2 queen cells max and put a honey super on immediately. Why? This colony will be queenless for another 3 weeks, and with little brood for awhile as the new queen ramps up laying. The colony’s entire energy can be put towards storing honey at this point and/or building wax if you don’t have a reserve of drawn comb. Filling a box or more at this time isn’t out of the question — and it’s only Spring! Option 2 — Recombining May OTS in late June or July to Capture Honey

You’ll likely have some kind of summer or early fall flow that you can capture later by removing the queens and combining 2 or 3 of these laying colonies right before that flow, and notching just one frame. A week later, you cull down to 1-2 queen cells. At this point, you have anywhere from 12-18 frames of capped brood and a massive amount of bees that again, due to 30-day brood break, can focus on bringing in honey. o goshi judo In this situation, I’d put on a couple extra supers and watch closely to ensure the colony has room to bring in nectar.

One objection to doing OTS and raising queens at this time is that the perception is there won’t be enough time for the colony to build up and mature in time to overwinter. But there’s one catch — remember above, we stated that (for whatever reason) queens mated post-solstice (June 21 or later) will be allowed to lay in strength like a spring queen and boost colony numbers very quickly, while normal, older, queens begin to ramp down in August. I’ve seen this work year after year. I actually remove ALL queens in my yard around June 20th every season and notch. The queens raised at this time are just as large, healthy and prolific as queens raised in early spring. The colonies they lay in simply boom in numbers and I overwinter them most often in double-deeps. Don’t forget about the original artificial swarm!

Combining easy "On The Spot" (OTS) queen rearing ( as coined by Mel Disselkoen) with artificial swarms is a tremendous early spring swarm prevention technique any beekeeper can quickly learn. This post will attempt to help beekeepers understand swarm behavior better and instruct how to combine these two techniques each spring before swarm season begins. The result? — You can raise your own queens, increase your colony count (if desired), and stop losing your time and money to annual swarming.

From Beekeeper’s Handbook, pg 154: By reproducing, organisms perpetuate and protect their kind from extinction…honey bee colonies do this by swarming. This activity of dividing the nest with new reproductives is very expensive. A colony divides, and part of it leaves for a new homesite, usually with the old queen, while the remaining members continue at the original site with a newly emerged ― and later mated ― queen. gas unlimited In this manner, a single unit becomes two. An abundance of food, a higher worker population, and the formation of many queen cells, often called swarm cells, indicate that swarming preparations are under way. Shortly after the swarm cells are sealed, the colony will cast a swarm. Bees will exit as a swarm on any warm, windless day; usually between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. (earlier or later if the weather is favorable). Occasionally, bees will swarm when the weather is less than favorable.

Like any animal or insect, you can count on them to reproduce when conditions are right. Honey bees are no different. What is intriguing, if you think about it, is that an entire colony is being propagated, not just one individual. The steps involved in colony increase, of which swarming is a part, are incredibly complex and a fascinating topic to contemplate. Reasons honey bees swarm

Back in January or February, my colonies start a slow process of building brood to replace overwintered bees and ramp up for the first nectar and pollen flow. As they get closer to May the queens lay more and more and colony expansion is clearly evident. electricity year 6 If left to themselves the larger colonies, if not all of them, will proceed right into swarm mode. Some of those signs are:

This can be a touchy subject for some due to varying perspectives about beekeeping in general. Some think bees should be left to themselves and let swarm. Let me assure you ― you won’t have bees for long and you may incur the wrath of your neighbors terrified with swarms of “killer bees” swirling in their yard. As well, this path of inadequate or non-managed bees will eventually lead to disease and pest issues. This will be a detriment not only to your bees but others near you.

Here is the long-standing reality: Honey bees thrive when intelligently managed by people. They are a unique creation. Both humans and bees benefit. Left to themselves, you would see few bees in your yard each spring, especially these days with various new disease, pest, and pesticide issues we must face, unheard of only 50 to 100 years ago.

Swarming was once considered a sign of “good and productive” beekeeping, for the beekeepers could increase their holdings from the numerous swarms available. Straw skeps, logs, and other types of cramped hives have been used to house bees since the 1600s, but these containers quickly became overcrowded and thus promoted the swarming of bees. Today, swarming is viewed as a sign of a beekeeper’s negligence because it means a loss of both bees (unless the swarm is captured) and the production of honey. Although most beekeepers make efforts to prevent or control swarming, it is not an easy task. The picture is further complicated by the fact that most methods used for controlling or preventing swarming result in manipulations that reduce the colony size (which is what happens when the colony swarms). Thus, although swarming can be controlled or prevented, in doing so the goal of maintaining populous colonies for the honey flow is somewhat sacrificed. Nevertheless, this is far better than having the colony cast a swarm that may leave the apiary site before you can recapture it.

At a high level, the plan is simple. In the process we are going to 1) create an artificial swarm one week before swarm season, 2) easily rear one or more queen cells a week later, and then, 3) increase your colony count as desired. You will have options to choose from depending on whether you wish to increase your colonies, harvest honey, or a mixture of both. Why does this work?

One week or so before your typical swarm season it’s time to visit your hive during a warm, early afternoon. static electricity sound effect I like to do this on Saturday if at all possible. Your first order of business is to lightly smoke to calm the hive and find the queen. Have a nuc box nearby at your feet to set her in. There is no need to touch or handle her — just simply put the frame she’s on into the box, right in the middle. Next, select two mostly capped brood frames to be included in the new colony, being careful not to injure the queen when transferring them into the box next to her. Keep the brood frames together, and frames with any open larvae in the very middle.

Next, select a frame of honey to insert into the split, preferably one with some pollen as well. Then, give the new split a couple extra shakes of nurse bees (bees covering open larvae and capped cells). Note that the honey frame should be right next to the brood on the outside. Fill up all remaining space with frames and close it up with a lid. If you have frames of comb already pulled out these are great to add in addition to the very outsides for laying expansion soon by the queen without the colony having to expend energy on building comb. If you don’t have this, be prepared to feed the new colony, especially if cool weather or a poor flow exists.

You’re ready to close this new colony up. gas out game directions It should be moved two or more miles away but I find it’s okay to keep it in the same yard if monitored closely. You can shake some additional bees or give it another frame of brood if too many bees get back to the original colony. You can assess this best by examining early morning or late evening when most of the bees are in the hive.

In this original parent colony, you should have two or more frames of capped brood left including some with open cells with eggs and larvae. Your focus now is to search for and find just hatched larvae. Here you will be " notching " to assist the bees in building out cells. On frames with newer white to light-yellow comb, the bees should have little trouble pulling out queen cells. On older darker comb, they sometimes are reluctant or unable to pull out queen cells.

In either case, we are not going to take any chances and will “notch” below just hatched larvae. These are 36-hour or younger larvae just emerged from the egg and now lying in the tiniest pool of royal jelly on the floor of the cell. They are nearly the same size of an egg but just slightly bent and a little bit fuller. Anything bigger than this is too old. More on notching can be found here.

You now have a decision to make: 1) Either make multiple splits or 2) keep the colony together. If you aren’t making more splits, remove all but two of the largest queen cells and close up the hive. If you are making splits, you’ll be making at most 2-3 total colonies from the resources available. what is electricity Ensure that each colony has at least a couple frames with capped brood, 1-2 queen cells, a frame of honey and pollen, and any empty comb you have for the new queen to lay in.

Note that queen cells *can* be cut out and placed elsewhere but know this is a delicate task and the queen can be easily injured. I would advise using a razor blade and cutting liberally around the cell before slowly removing. Put the brood frames and cells in the middle of the box. Then, equally distribute the bees among the colonies as best you can and close them up. What next?

Knowing that it takes approximately 30 days from an egg to a laying queen, you have around 21 days (3 weeks) before you can expect to find eggs in your colonies (approximately 27 days from when you notched). All things being equal, with good weather, most of your queens should emerge and be laying. Like any queen-rearing operation, mating flights have some inherent risk (getting lost, eaten by birds, etc) and you can expect about 10% failed matings.

And, don’t forget… you’re becoming a better beekeeper by keeping swarms in check and keeping your time, money and effort in your yard ― where it belongs. Check out Part Two of this series, " OTS Queen Rearing and Knowing Your Local Swarm Dates (Part 2 of 3)" In Part Three coming soon, we’ll talk about maintaining bee numbers and honey production, even with the artificial swarms and brood breaks that are a part of OTS.