"Are you now suggesting" - actually if you read the first post I said swarm control and swapping out old frames. The varroa came in later as an added thought because I sometimes get to the spring with a question-mark over whether I can wait until August when I normally do varroa control. It's you that have swopped the reasons around.NigelP wrote: ↑16 Jan 2020, 13:05Still puzzled here Andrew.
Are you now suggesting that you are performing a shook swarm as a method of swarm control, rather than as you said earlier for varroa control?
I'm also concerned that you say you don't like to disrupt bees etc but are prepared to seriously disrupt them with a shook swarm.
I've still yet to see any argument that suggests performing a shook swarm on healthy bees is good idea.
There's a lot of factors at play here and I have to consider the whole picture, which is where I started with the planning meeting. The situation is that my ideal number of hives is just 4 and I can accommodate 8 (plus the odd poly-nuc or two). I do everything I can to avoid swarms including the use of bait hives that are deployed to catch any that I miss when I have to go away but which are now collecting the swarms of nearby beekeepers who don't seem to control their swarms - it's becoming a nightmare. I have a neighbour that has moved to the country but comes round as soon as a bee or wasp (they are the same you know ) goes anywhere near them and I do not want him complaining to the council because that would likely end my beekeeping. I seem to be constantly going to 7 hives because of artificial swarm control and/or housing other people's swarms.
So I do everything I can to prevent swarms, my queens are young (none seem to last these days to make it to old age) and I practise swarm prevention measures (giving space, putting in foundation to meet the wax drawing urge, nicking brood comb, splits (given away) etc etc.). Artificial swarm control is the last resort because it lands me with another colony but still better than the swarm that gets away.
That's where I started with this year's plan. I have couple of colonies that are all that I could ask for (nice to work, pleasant to share my garden with and productive enough for my needs) - prime target for a split. Two of the others are OK but not ones I am special about and they are on comb that needs changing (4/5 years old), the last colony is due to go to a new home in March (I think that makes 5 if my arithmetic is correct).
Given my plan for this year, I am going to end up with 6 hives (including the two splits) and now I have to consider the other two hives plus any swarms that the other beekeepers let go just at the time my bait hives are open. So I was thinking that a shook swarm would be my preferred method of swarm control on the other two hives (the ones I am just OK with) if my swarm prevention doesn't work and it would solve the comb issue (which may not be an issue if I have done Adam's Bailey Comb Change method).
My head's spinning with all this but you did ask
I forgot - you asked about disrupting the bees - how could I think of doing a shook swarm if I didn't like disrupting the bees to do oxalic acid? The difference is one is done during a flow and when the colony is growing and in peak brood production whereas the other done is done when the colony should be quietly overwintering and left alone - that's my philosphy and I think you have confirmed that the artificial swarm control is anything but mimic-ing a natural swarm. I'd love to just let the colonies surplus to my capacity just swarm and take their chances in the big wide world but that is hardly responsible (although quite a few beekeepers I know seem to do just that).