9 Dec 2011

Swarming in skeps

Swarming of colonies is probably one of the major concerns or challenges for beekeepers, especially for novices in the suburbs.

Victorian regulations recommend that measures are taken to prevent swarming. The conventional beekeeping approach to 'manage' the colony is to inspect for signs (usually the construction of swarm queen cells) every 7-10 days in spring then perhaps splitting the colony or some other intervention.

Whilst this is hardly 'bee friendly', it also involves a lot of effort and is not 100% effective. The challenge for natural beekeepers is to somehow manage swarming without undue intervention. This is something I'm going to be looking into before next spring, having seen my own first year hive swarm (with casts) some 4-6 times this year! Most of which I caught because I happened to be working at home - but I think I missed the big one (the prime swarm) a week before. Of course . . .

Here are two incredible videos showing how skep beekeepers in Germany handle swarming in a somewhat natural way (that's such a subjective term!). So whilst a lot of what is shown is specific to commercial skep keeping, there is some good general information on the mechanics of how swarming occurs.

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