Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lesson 92: Swarm Prevention, Demaree Method ( 217-427-2678

We are David and Sheri Burns from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. Our main website is:

Hi we are David and Sheri Burns at  Please visit our Main Website at:

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Have you considered the importance of taking our one day Advance Beekeeping Course?  I'll be joined by my good friend and fellow certified master beekeeper Jon Zawislak. Jon and I have written a book on queen rearing and we recently authored a two part articled published in the American Bee Journal on the difference between Northern and Southern bees. Jon and I will be teaching our Advance Beekeeping course June 11, 2014 here in Fairmount, Illinois and we have around 6 seats available. You don't want to miss this opportunity to be around me and Jon and learn about bees for a whole day. Click here for more information.

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Thanks for joining us today as we continue to look at important preparations for hives that survive the winter. We call these hives overwintered colonies. Today we’ll specifically look at an effective swarm prevention method known as the Demaree method.
But first, let me thank you for your interest in honey bees. Thank you for realizing how important honey bees are to our food supply. 1 out of 3 bites of food is the result of honey bee pollination. Do your part by keeping bees.

Winter ClusterIt's important for beekeepers to be well prepared to properly manage hives that have survived the winter. In our last lesson we looked at how to stimulate the colony to produce a large population of foraging bees prior to the first strong nectar flow. In this lesson we look into the very challenging task of swarm prevention. I'm using an acronym to make it easier to remember 6 important management practices to implement in the SPRING and today we'll look at number 2, Prevent Swarms.
Stimulate For Rapid Foraging Force

Prevent Swarms
otate Hive Bodies

nspect The Productivity Of The Queen

ew Queen

ive 1:1 Sugar Water & Pollen Patties

In this lesson, we'll look at a few techniques to prevent swarming. Swarming is probably the greatest cause of low honey production.

First, I'll give some important bullet points on swarming, then I'll give three swarm prevention methods. Keep in mind that swarming is not completely understood and no matter what methods are used colonies may still swarm. There is no 100% sure method that works every time.

* 60 percent of the colony swarms with the older queen.
* Clipping a queen's wing does not prevent swarming, because they will wait and swarm with the new, virgin queen.
* The primary cause of swarming is congestion in the brood area of the hive.
* The swarm is made up largely of young bees at the optimal age for producing wax since the swarm must quickly build new comb.
* A large hive (one that has not swarmed) has more foraging bees than bees caring for brood even though the large hive has more brood. In other words, once a hive swarms it will greatly reduce its ability to produce surplus honey.

* A healthy colony will swarm in order to reproduce another colony.

* Colonies are most likely to swarm during spring and early summer during the start of a nectar flow.
* Colonies with queens that are more than 1 year old are more likely to swarm.
* Keeping a young queen in the hive is a very effective swarm control method.
* A colony makes queens in preparation to swarming and as soon as the newly created queen cells are capped, they can swarm at any time.
* Beekeepers who capture swarms often have queen issues afterward because the swarm is accompanied by the old queen that may soon die or not lay well, and be unsuccessfully replaced.
* The main swarm is headed by the old queen, and normally additional swarms (afterswarms) are headed by virgin queens.
Swarm prevention has always been a challenge. There are many methods to control swarming, but three are most often followed: 1) Reversal of brood bodies 2) Providing a young queen 3) Demaree method
Reversal of Brood Bodies
During the winter the cluster gradually moves upward into the top hive body eating its way into stored honey above the cluster. Normally the colony is found in the upper deep hive body during the start of spring, leaving the bottom deep hive body empty of bees and honey. 
The colony will expand in the upper hive body but quickly becomes congested and will not likely move down. The congestion will likely cause the colony to
swarm. Therefore, reversing the hive bodies places the main nesting area on the bottom, giving the colony room to expand into the upper hive body thus elevating congestion and helping to prevent swarming. We'll talk more about this method in our next article as it is part of our SPRING acronym.

Providing a Young Queen
Lesson74iAs the queen ages she is less likely to produce queen pheromones as strongly as a young queen. With the reduced queen pheromone the hive is more likely to swarm. Providing a new queen is part of our SPRING acronym so I will deal with this more in a future article. But for now, realize that a new queen each year can greatly reduce swarm tendency.
Demaree Method of Swarm Prevention
When I began studying for the master beekeeping certification, I learned about the Demaree method to prevent swarming. It frequently shows up on the
tests and I’m glad I studied it, because it showed up on last years test. George Demaree was a beekeeper from Kentucky who came up with an effective method of swarm control in 1892 which separates the queen from the brood. It requires more colony manipulation, but the method is effective.

For demonstration, our hive under consideration will have two deep hive bodies and let's assume the queen is laying well and there is capped and uncapped brood throughout the two deep hive bodies.

1) Examine the frames and cage the queen so that you do not injure her while moving frames.

2) Move frames of capped and uncapped brood into the upper deep hive body. If both deep hive bodies have brood that will not fit into the upper deep hive body, use a third deep hive body. Replace the brood frames that you moved up with empty drawn combs.

3) Place the queen (release her if she is in a cage) into the bottom deep hive body and place a queen excluder to hold her down into this bottom deep hive box.

4) Now, place drawn comb into a new deep hive body and place it on top of the bottom deep that has the queen excluder on it (in the middle of the two deeps).

5) In 7 to 10 days go through the upper hive body and destroy all queen cells. Since the queen is held down to the bottom of the hive, this upper box could start raising their own queen. But once you destroy any cells, they cannot raise another one because the brood is too old to raise a queen. Now you can remove the queen excluder. The bees have been given more room, the queen has been given more room and no bees have been lost due to swarming. And the bees will begin to fill the upper hive body once the brood has emerged. our next article The Details of Reversing Hive Bodies

May 24 2010 042Thanks for joining us today! Here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms we appreciate you business. Contact us to order all your woodenware (hive equipment), beekeeping equipment and supplies. We appreciate your support. 217-427-2678 or visit our website at:
PHONE: 217-427-2678
See you next time,
David & Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
14556 N. 1020 E. Rd
Fairmount, IL 61841


Unknown said...

about the Demaree method- if you don't have frames with drawn comb, or not enough frames, can you use frames with just wax foundation?

David Burns said...

Not really, because you need drawn comb that can be used immediately. The extra spacing might help, but will not be as effective.

Bryan said...

when can I re-assemble the hive back to the normal set up or can I?

Bryan said...

when can I re-assemble the hive back to the normal set up or can I?

Unknown said...

The whole point of this is to ensure the queen understands that she has more then the space she needs,as well as backing the hive off of swarm ensures that the queen will start from square one in the bottom brood box and work her way back up with some encouragement. Me personally don't go more then a 2 week period without checking on the few hives I have(perk of keeping only a few hives). I am constantly moving drawn and undrawn frames. Moving any honey frames to the outside of the brood cluster. Queens will not cross frames on honey. This includes frames with honey on the top half of the frame. To encourage the queen to move into the upper box's. It's a good idea to consolidate the honey frames in the second brood box if she is in the bottom. If you have 3 frames of honey, put two on the outside and one in either the middle or the other side of the box.

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