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More advanced beekeeping discussion forum.
 #5457  by AndrewLD
 12 Jan 2020, 15:52
Having hefted the hives a few days ago and having seen all but one hive flying

Gazed at hives out of window, glass of Chateau Grimont 2016 in hand ( very pleasant - Majestic Wines) thinking:

Why wasn't Green hive flying even though plenty of bees seen active under the perspex cover to the feeder holes)?

Wasn't Purple hive a bit too active?

Formulated strategy for this year - going for shook swarm as preferred measure - some of the comb needed swapping out last year. More bait hives this year as other beekeepers don't seem to be bothering :( Going to be more aggressive in taking out brood frames with stores early on - I want to give them someting to do with those wax glands and at the same time give them room for brood.

So, planning meeting - 1 attendee.
 #5460  by NigelP
 12 Jan 2020, 16:27
Sorry Andrew, but in my opinion a shook swarm is one of the worst things you can do to a healthy colony of bees. It's a drastic measure usually taken when you have hives diseased with EFB or badly infected with nosema.
What is your rationale for setting a healthy colony of bees back at least a couple of month, if not more, in their normal development?
If you want frames drawing out remove and add undrawn.....shook swarm is a tadge severe IMHO.
Although it has appeared as a "trendy" thing to do on some very dodgy amateur forums, but no reason is ever given why.
I would never advocate anyone, particularly beginners, of even thinking of doing this as form of drawing new comb. Far better, simpler and less intrusive ways of achieving the same.
Me thinks the Chateaux du Red is talking :)
 #5461  by Alfred
 12 Jan 2020, 16:48
My cloudy apple-derived stuff with sludge and unknown bits is chattering now.
The bbka journal has recently featured shookswarm proceedure
I was toying with the idea for swarm capturing,with only one drawn comb for the queen to start laying then remove it once capped trapping as many mites as possible until the new combs are ready.
Assuming it's not a virgin that's going to get spooked what could possibly go wrong....
 #5462  by AndrewLD
 12 Jan 2020, 16:57
NigelP wrote:
12 Jan 2020, 16:27
Sorry Andrew, but in my opinion a shook swarm is one of the worst things you can do to a healthy colony of bees. ...................................
Me thinks the Chateaux du Red is talking :)
Well that's why we belong to this forum and No it certainly isn't Chateaux du Red talking, might be the two pints of beer at the pub beforehand :lol:
I will come back with a more reasoned response when others have had an input but in the interim, I am thinking:
Not worried about the impact on honey and I am very grateful for the fact that this is a hobby for me so I am not reliant on the income though that could change :(
Tom Seeley is suggesting (to me) that swarming is more natural and healthy - so I really don't know what you'd think of a shook swarm with queen cells and no queen (Yes -that is In Vino veritas and not serious)
There was an article in the BBKA News extolling the virtues of a shook swarm and one of them was varroa - and I can't help feeling that a single summer treatment isn't enough and I hate disturbing bees in the winter
It's January (we did just have Christmas didn't we?) so now is the time to air thoughts and have more experienced colleagues come back and say that is just not sensible.... :|
 #5465  by AdamD
 12 Jan 2020, 17:40
A shook swarm seems a bit of a brutal procedure if you want to get a colony onto new comb. A bailey comb exchange is much better in my view - and you don't lose the brood. However, if you want to reduce varroa, you could perhaps trap the queen in a cage so you have a brood break long enough that you could:-

a) either remove brood with varroa in. (I've seen queen excluder cages that go around a brood comb to keep the queen on just one frame).
b) or treat with oxalic when there is no sealed brood.

Or for varroa treatment, as an option, put MAQS in before you put a super on.
 #5466  by NigelP
 12 Jan 2020, 17:46
AndrewLD wrote:
12 Jan 2020, 16:57

There was an article in the BBKA News extolling the virtues of a shook swarm and one of them was varroa -
There have been many articles in the BBKA news. Some of those articles still extol the virtues of putting matchsticks under crown boards for winter ventilation. They have also carried articles about non treating for varroa....
I'm not sure that source is too reliable as to the efficacy of any method.
All my beekeeping has a reason or a rationale behind it.
Shook swarm is not part of it....varroa control!!!/BIG GRIN?
 #5467  by MickBBKA
 12 Jan 2020, 23:43
As AdamD has said, a Bailey comb change works great, but why not do it the way I did last season.
Use a new brood and foundation as a super over a queen excluder but keep the queen in the old brood box below. Get the new foundation drawn out and filled with honey. Extract it and put it back, then move the queen above the excluder. Once all the brood in the lower box has emerged you can take it away. You then have your colony on beautifully drawn fresh comb and no loss of production. Timed right with a good flow they will drawn it out very fast. Worked a treat for me.

Cheers, Mick.
 #5468  by AndrewLD
 13 Jan 2020, 08:06
Firstly, thanks for the feedback.
Bailey Comb Change; tried it twice at least and it's never really worked for me. I either ended up with a brood box of honey I couldn't do anything with (I am on 14x12 and neither of my extractor cages with deal with that) or I had one brood box with the queen in it and another with very p**'d-off queenless bees! Now I put that down to the Thorne Bailey Floor allowing insufficient communication with the lower box. If I were to do it again (and I swore I never would) then I think a wired excluder would work better.
Shook Swarm - only done it a couple of times and it worked brilliantly with a varroa problem sorted instantly (combined it with a sugar dusting to get off the phoretic mites). They drew out the new comb very quickly. My thinking is that if it is timed correctly all I am doing is the equivalent of an artifical swarm but transferring the nurse bees with the flying bees and queen - giving the new hive a full complement of bees to get going and also avoiding the situation where the flying bees have to revert to being nurse bees, resulting in weakened colony for a month until new bees emerge to take up the nurse bee role. It is brutal to lose the brood but actually an artificial swarm is pretty brutal too because the original colony is left with no foragers but a full compliment of brood and then we have to move hives around to try and equalize (not easy the way my apiary is arranged)
I shall continue the planning meetings with myself, if for no other reasons than the Chair serves Chateau du Red as refreshment :D
 #5469  by NigelP
 13 Jan 2020, 09:38
But why and when are you doing it Andrew.? As varroa control it sucks as there are far more efficient ways of controlling the little buggers that don't involve setting your colony back about 6-8 weeks in development.
My readings have shown, that interestingly, in a natural swarm their is a disproportionate number of young bees compared to the hives older bees.i.e the vast majority of bees in a swarm are very young bees. Winston has published that around 70% of the hives bees under 10 days old leave with the first swarm. Which is interesting as it turns our usual thoughts about swarm controls on their head. i.e queen with flying bees to imitate a a"natural" swarm.
It's the wrong way round.....
It also goes a long way to explaining why a swarm has no "memory" of it's previous location as most of the swarms flying bees are less than 15 days old and have never orientated to their original location.
 #5483  by AdamD
 14 Jan 2020, 21:02
A Bailey comb exchange doesn't work well early in the season when there aren't too many bees or when it's cold; and bees need have a good flow on to help them draw comb or they need to get access to a feeder - and if it's 8 " away above a brood box of foundation, they won't find it very well or won't want to draw foundation with it but take it down to their nice comfortable and dirty drawn comb! So the best time is when the colony has grown some in the spring and you are thinking that a super might be in order soon - so it's a bigish prosperous colony. Also, If there are frames of stores in the lower box, they (some) can be removed and dummy boards pushed up against the brood so squeeze the bees in - which means that they need to move upwards as there's insufficient space in the lower box for them.

What I tend to do is to put the queen up in the top box above a queen excluder for a week on a comb of brood with foundation around and feed the colony. Insulation around the feeder helps keep it warm and the syrup is more easily taken down. The queen will be looked after as bees will cover the brood and as they will want somewhere for her to lay they will start to draw comb. After a week, there should be some drawn comb, but not always that much. At this time the old brood comb can be put downstairs with the queen up. It's at this time I also use an eke as a middle entrance so I have from bottom upwards:-

Closed floor
Brood box with brood and no queen
Queen excluder
1" eke and entrance
Brood box
Crown Board
Feeder with insulation and a super around it

After another week the bees should be drawing comb quite well and the queen should be laying in the new comb but remember that there is plenty of brood downstairs to keep warm and you have split the colony so the workers can't be in two places at the same time. Development of the new brood comb will start to increase well from now on as bees will bring food up from the lower brood box and there is less and less brood to maintain down stairs.
Finally, you will have one brood frame that was in the top box that is a week behind the others once they are empty of brood and this can be put in another colony if you wish; as it has just sealed brood in it and is easy for a smaller colony to look after and the young bees will be emerging from hour one. With the last frame of brood gone you should find that the lower brood box doesn't have too much food in it as it will have been moved up so it can now be removed with the eke and queen excluder. The colony might still need some feeding to help draw comb.

An old book I read suggested that you render the old comb down straight away or you will be tempted to re-use it at swarm time and if it's gone, it's gone!