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Preventing swarms by using queen excluder

Posted by Ersten z9 SF Bay Area ( on
Thu, May 5, 05 at 13:29

What harmful effects would happen if a queen excluder is placed just above the bottom board to prevent the queen from swarming?

Would doing that end the swarming instinct?

Would the instinct to swarm be so great that the workers would still go ahead and create queen swarm cells, and the resulting queens fight amongst each other and the old queen?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Preventing swarms by using queen excluder

Neither this, nor clipping the queen's wings so she can't even fly with the swarm will end the swarming instinct. They will leave without her, and possibly return. Then they will supercede her as quickly as possible.

You're trying to fight millenia of programmed genetics, and it doesn't work.

You can try to split the hive, you can try to kill queen cells, or you can simply catch the swarm and put them in a hive and even then, successfully combine them with the original colony.

PLEASE remember that swarming is a good thing, according to nature.

RE: Preventing swarms by using queen excluder

Just a thought. I guess I won't try that.

RE: Preventing swarms by using queen excluder

Another thing the queen excluder does is keep the drones from getting out. Many of the spaces between the bars are uneven (wire excluders) and gobs of drones can be seen looking for the wider holes to get out. (Turns out that a flying queen can probably get through the hole anyway. A laying queen, never.)

I too thought of that Ersten, because I had swarms erupting just when the weather turned windy, cold and rainy one year. Figuring that I was smarter than a dumb bee, I spent part of an afternoon slapping an excluder on the bottoms. The next day was cold and rainy as predicted, but they were swarming anyway. First a false swarm, then when they started returning, one next to it started coming out. In a panic, I decided to open the hive in that weather, yank the excluder off and try not to make a total mess of everything. It turns out that the second one did swarm, and I guess that at least one other time in the past 2 million years they had swarmed in the rain because they handled it just fine. The swarm landed nearby on the Filberts and I easily hived them.

The moral of that story is that once they have decided to swarm, it is best to go with the flow and let them lead you.

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