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Demaree ( Swarm Control )

In the year 1892, Mr. Demaree wrote to the American Bee Journal setting out his system of swarm control when the object of the bee-keeper was honey production. It is a system now widely practiced in this country and its popularity is due to its simplicity and its general success. However, if carried out as suggested by the originator, it is a dirty method of honey production for reasons explained later. It is, however, an excellent method of producing natural stores in brood sized combs, useful for helping out weak stocks and providing winter feed. First go through each comb of the stock and remove all Queen Cells in whatever state of development. Take out all combs with the exception of one having brood and place them in a clean prepared second brood-chamber, which is to be the upper storey. The brood-frame containing the Queen should be retained in the original brood-chamber. The number of brood-frames in the second chamber should be made up to ten in number and a division board fitted at one end. Likewise, the original brood-chamber should be filled up with brood-frames. More progress will, of course, be made if the added brood- frames have drawn out comb. Again, a division board should be fitted to this brood-chamber, and care should be taken to see that it is fitted at the same end as the one fitted in the second brood-chamber. Now place a Queen excluder over the first brood-chamber and over this place the second brood-chamber. In this way the Queen has a completely new brood-chamber in which to lay and continues laying at a rapid rate. Meanwhile, au the bees in the brood-combs above are hatching out rapidly and these young bees provide the Queen with a constant supply of nurse bees. All the cells in the upper storey will be vacated within twenty-one days of the operation being carried out. The hive will have an enormous population with a Queen laying rapidly. If there has been a honey flow most of the cells in the upper storey will have been filled with honey as soon as they aie vacated by the emerging bees. If the honey flow still continues the combs in the upper storey should be extracted and the operation repeated. Dr. Butler has discovered what he considers to be an improvement on this system. He always places a shallow super complete with combs between the two brood-chambers at the first operation. The advantages of this system are, first, that the Queen is never cramped for laying room and therefore one of the predisposing causes of swarming is removed; and secondly, that the system provides a large stock of bees for honey collection. The disadvantages are first, that unless the operation is repeated after 21 days there is every possibility of the hive being so crowded that swarming is merely postponed and the swarm may leave at the height of the honey flow. Secondly, the honey produced is regarded by some as “dirty honey.” It has been stored in cells where grubs have developed and left their excreta behind and nymphs into bees and they in their turn having left their outer skins behind. They say it is not honey which a clean bee-keeper would eat himself and therefore he should not sell it to the public. This particular objection may perhaps be negative when we are told by observers that during a good honey flow the field bees usually place the nectar they have collected in the first available cell in the brood-chamber often on top of an egg or even a young larva. Thirdly, there is one danger which is not always explained about this system—and that is that unless every care is taken to prevent Queen cells maturing in the upper storey after the transfer to it of brood, a Queen may hatch out which cannot get through the excluder which may result in either a swarm emerging after all or the virgin Queen becoming a drone layer, as she is unable to get out of the hive to mate Therefore it is essential that after two or three days the bee-keeper should go through the upper storey and cut out any Queen cells which may have been formed in the interim. This is most important and should be repeated after a period of seven days. There are those who think that if the Queen cells are cut out of the upper storey that the bees cannot place a young enough grub or egg in the upper storey. Some experience shows that bees will fetch eggs from the lower storey even 10 days later. This system is often used when the bee-keeper desires to increase his stocks, for in the upper storey the bees will often after the operation has been carried out make a large number of Queen cells. These can be made into nuclei which will be helped on rapidly by the large number of young bees which will shortly hatch out.

Artificial Swarm Method (Images and style pending)

Artificial Swarm Method

Move the original Parent Colony hive with the brood, Bees Queen cell and queen about one metre to one side of it’s original location with the entrance facing the same direction.  

Prepare a new hive with frames of drawn comb or foundation, remove three frames leaving a space in the center (you will use these frames later) Then place the new empty spare hive now the Artificial swarm colony hive where the Parent Colony hive WAS. Check the Parent Colony hive ,take the marked frame with the Queen and brood in various stages, along with all the bees on it, ensure there are no queen cells and put it into the middle of the Artificial swarm colony hive , add one of the empty frames of fully-drawn foundation so that the queen has room to continue laying eggs immediately, rather than wait for the workers to draw out cells on the new foundation. Select an additional frame of brood in all stages of development and ample food stores and move this to the Artificial swarm colony hive, Remember this must NOT contain any more queen cells Remember the Artificial swarm colony hive is in the original place of the Parent Colony hive. So you are putting the old queen back in her previous location with food stores and combs of sealed brood and foraging /flying bees Ensure there are food reserves in the combs of the Parent Colony hive and it is never advisable to split existing brood with empty frames , close all the frames together and insert new frames removed from the Artificial swarm colony hive earlier at the outer edges to completely fill the brood box.  

Put the queen excluder, supers, crown board and roof back onto the Artificial swarm colony hive. This procedure has now produced an artificial swarm, giving you another colony and without the loss of honey production.   The Parent Colony hive will behave as if a swarm has just departed as it is now Queenless with nursery bees, Queen cells and some foraging bees, but the forager /flying bees will return to the Artificial swarm colony hive hive thinking it’s the Parent Colony hive. The nursery bees in the Parent Colony hive will act as normal and raise the queen cells until one is hatched or selected. The Artificial swarm colony hive will behave as if it has just swarmed and set up a new colony, consisting of the existing queen, all the flying bees, and plenty of honey to start comb-building and brood-rearing straight away. Do not feed straight away, wait a couple of days. Feeding sugar syrup immediately could cause robbing. For brood promotion use a 50/50 mix. Wait …………for 7 days After exactly seven days, usually one day before the new virgin queen is due to emerge from her cell, we need to move the parent colony hive to a new location.

  Move the Parent Colony hive one metre on the opposite side of the Artificial swarm colony hive. The forager /flying bees from this Parent Colony Hive will return to find their home missing and will go to the nearest hive, which will be the Artificial swarm colony hive and because the new queen has not hatched , they will not have an unfamiliar ‘Queen pheromone ‘ on them – this means that the guard bees at the entrance will freely allow them enter. This will help build up the loss of bees in the Artificial swarm colony hive and will encourage the growth of the colony . This procedure also reduces the risk of flying bees leaving the Parent Colony hive with a new queen, known as a cast swarm, because it leaves fewer flying bees in the Parent Colony hive The Parent Colony hive is a very weak because it has lost all the flying bees (their main defence force). For this reason do not feed them for 2 days, giving them enough time to organise their defences against honey-robbing. Check the Artificial swarm colony hive to see if the old queen has continued to lay and there are no queen cells. Wait at least 14 days and up to 21 days …then check the Parent Colony hive to see if the new queen has been mated and is laying. If the weather has been bad or there is no sign of eggs or larvae be prepared to re-unite the two hives. This can sometimes happen if the queen cannot fly to mate. Once you know the queen is laying in the Parent Colony hive you can either unite the two hives and remove the old queen or increase your number of colonies. Sometimes a virgin queen will swarm as soon as she has hatched, taking all the flying bees and as much honey as they can carry. Now this new queen will have few (if any) flying bees in her colony when she hatches, so this ‘cast’ swarm is almost certainly weak and vulnerable This is probably the most commonly used method of carrying out artificial swarm control. The rule of thumb is to master one method before trying others, do not try to attempt various methods because you could confuse yourself, or at worst even loose your bees

Artificial Swarm

There are many reasons why bees swarm, this can be due to lack of room in the hive, an old queen which is unable to create enough Pheromone ( The control chemical) for all the bees and a breed of bees that are just “smarmy by nature” A ‘natural’ swarm consists of the existing queen, all the flying bees, and as much honey as they can carry; we have now are manually creating this situation. By carrying out an artificial swarm procedure you can benefit from another colony and possibly prevent your bees from actually swarming. There are many methods of doing this but this method is most probably the easiest and most straightforward. This method can also create another colony without affecting the honey flow and the later harvest. So at the very least you will need the following spare or new equipment
  • Floor Brood
  • Box Full
  • Set of frames with drawn comb, but if not with frames with foundation sheets.
  • Crown board
  • Roof
The method described will hopefully maintain the maximum amount of foraging bees with the queen who can continue to lay eggs without interrupting the honey flow. The key to success is to carry out careful inspections and to ensure you don’t miss any queen cells. If during an inspection you see an unsealed Queen cell containing larvae in a pool of royal jelly , it’s time to carry out an artificial swarm procedure. When a queen cell is found do not shake any bees off the comb because this is likely to damage the developing queen. just knocking a developed queen cell off will not delay the inevitable swarm as the swarming process has already been started; be aware that another one could be built in as little as 20 minutes Gently push the bees aside with your finger or use a bee brush (brush with very soft bristle) so you can see the whole comb and look to see if there are more queen cells. After checking each comb in the brood box, note which frames has a queen cell or cells. Select the two best cells and destroy the reminder Mark this frame with some mark you will be able to remember ( a drawing pin or map pin is ideal and quick with gloves on ) to avoid having to handle it again. Queen larvae are notoriously fragile, it’s very easy for the precious larva to become dislodged and fall straight out. Remember the cell’s opening is at the bottom!! The next step is to find the existing queen and isolate her on one frame. Method…

Artificial Swarm Method

Artificial Swarm Method

Move the original Parent Colony hive with the brood, Bees Queen cell and queen about one metre to one side of it’s original location with the entrance facing the same direction.  

Prepare a new hive with frames of drawn comb or foundation, remove three frames leaving a space in the center (you will use these frames later) Then place the new empty spare hive now the Artificial swarm colony hive where the Parent Colony hive WAS. Check the Parent Colony hive ,take the marked frame with the Queen and brood in various stages, along with all the bees on it, ensure there are no queen cells and put it into the middle of the Artificial swarm colony hive , add one of the empty frames of fully-drawn foundation so that the queen has room to continue laying eggs immediately, rather than wait for the workers to draw out cells on the new foundation. Select an additional frame of brood in all stages of development and ample food stores and move this to the Artificial swarm colony hive, Remember this must NOT contain any more queen cells Remember the Artificial swarm colony hive is in the original place of the Parent Colony hive. So you are putting the old queen back in her previous location with food stores and combs of sealed brood and foraging /flying bees Ensure there are food reserves in the combs of the Parent Colony hive and it is never advisable to split existing brood with empty frames , close all the frames together and insert new frames removed from the Artificial swarm colony hive earlier at the outer edges to completely fill the brood box.  

Put the queen excluder, supers, crown board and roof back onto the Artificial swarm colony hive. This procedure has now produced an artificial swarm, giving you another colony and without the loss of honey production.   The Parent Colony hive will behave as if a swarm has just departed as it is now Queenless with nursery bees, Queen cells and some foraging bees, but the forager /flying bees will return to the Artificial swarm colony hive hive thinking it’s the Parent Colony hive. The nursery bees in the Parent Colony hive will act as normal and raise the queen cells until one is hatched or selected. The Artificial swarm colony hive will behave as if it has just swarmed and set up a new colony, consisting of the existing queen, all the flying bees, and plenty of honey to start comb-building and brood-rearing straight away. Do not feed straight away, wait a couple of days. Feeding sugar syrup immediately could cause robbing. For brood promotion use a 50/50 mix. Wait …………for 7 days After exactly seven days, usually one day before the new virgin queen is due to emerge from her cell, we need to move the parent colony hive to a new location.

  Move the Parent Colony hive one metre on the opposite side of the Artificial swarm colony hive. The forager /flying bees from this Parent Colony Hive will return to find their home missing and will go to the nearest hive, which will be the Artificial swarm colony hive and because the new queen has not hatched , they will not have an unfamiliar ‘Queen pheromone ‘ on them – this means that the guard bees at the entrance will freely allow them enter. This will help build up the loss of bees in the Artificial swarm colony hive and will encourage the growth of the colony . This procedure also reduces the risk of flying bees leaving the Parent Colony hive with a new queen, known as a cast swarm, because it leaves fewer flying bees in the Parent Colony hive The Parent Colony hive is a very weak because it has lost all the flying bees (their main defence force). For this reason do not feed them for 2 days, giving them enough time to organise their defences against honey-robbing. Check the Artificial swarm colony hive to see if the old queen has continued to lay and there are no queen cells. Wait at least 14 days and up to 21 days …then check the Parent Colony hive to see if the new queen has been mated and is laying. If the weather has been bad or there is no sign of eggs or larvae be prepared to re-unite the two hives. This can sometimes happen if the queen cannot fly to mate. Once you know the queen is laying in the Parent Colony hive you can either unite the two hives and remove the old queen or increase your number of colonies. Sometimes a virgin queen will swarm as soon as she has hatched, taking all the flying bees and as much honey as they can carry. Now this new queen will have few (if any) flying bees in her colony when she hatches, so this ‘cast’ swarm is almost certainly weak and vulnerable This is probably the most commonly used method of carrying out artificial swarm control. The rule of thumb is to master one method before trying others, do not try to attempt various methods because you could confuse yourself, or at worst even loose your bees