Late spring and early summer are a honey bee colony’s most productive times. While this productivity is excellent for your honey bees’ health and honey stores, it can also lead to bee swarms. Sometimes, these swarms are the perfect opportunity to split your colony and start a new hive. However, if you don’t want your honey bees to swarm, you need to take a few cautionary steps. Keep an eye out and manage your hives with this guide on how beekeepers can prevent swarming this summer.
What is Swarming?
As nectar flows and populations boom, your honey bees might find themselves cramped for space within their hive. Their instinctive response is to create a new queen and split the colony: half will stay in the current hive with the young queen, while the other half will travel with the old queen to a new location. Once this group finds a safe location, they set up their hive and get to work as a new colony.
Anticipating a Swarm
Swarming severely lowers your hive’s population, which can make it harder for your honey bees to have a fruitful season and a safe winter. If you want to keep your honey bees from swarming, you must pay close attention to catch an upcoming swarm’s warning signs. An extremely productive queen, high population, and full hive frames are all indicators that your colony might swarm soon. Another major sign is the creation of queen cups along the bottom bars of your hive. This means your honey bees are preparing for a new queen to stay with half the colony after a swarm.
How Beekeepers Can Prevent Swarming
There are a few tricks to help prevent your colony from swarming this season. Keep an eye on their population and avoid overcrowding before it becomes an issue. Place your deep boxes at the bottom of the hive and add a queen excluder and honey supers early in the spring. This will give your colony more room to grow up and through the hive as their population booms. You can also make the hive itself more comfortable in the summer heat by providing adequate ventilation and shade. Additionally, remove any queen cells that you see during your inspections.
Kelley Beekeeping is here to help you manage your hives this summer. From bee hive frames to everything you need for your honey harvest, we have all the necessary resources to meet your honey bee needs. With the right attention and care, you can keep your colony at a healthy and productive population throughout the summer—leading to a bountiful honey harvest at the end of the season.