Beekeeping for Beginners

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Swarming of bee colonies




Reproduction of bee colonies



In order to achieve high honey production, it is very important to achieve high production in each bee colony. It is even more important to achieve high total honey production, and in order for it to be achieved, it is necessary to breed a larger number of bee colonies. For farmers or beekeepers whose main occupation is agricultural production, it is advisable to keep 40 to 100 beekeeping companies, and more, which depends on the number of household members who can and want to work around the bee, the size of the property and the intensity of agricultural production.

In any case, you should not be afraid of a large number of bee colonies, because there is always as much free time for them as is necessary. After all, from the point of view of profitability and all other economic indicators, it is always better to keep a larger than a smaller number of bee colonies. Some beekeepers keep 200 or more bee colonies and achieve extremely good results. Beekeepers whose main occupation is beekeeping, keep 600 or more bee colonies.


Natural reproduction



In the spring, and especially when the large pasture arrives, the queen bee lays more eggs, the hive roars and the members of the society become more and more numerous. As soon as the society grows so large that the space in the hive becomes insufficient for the normal work of all its members, the urge to swarm may soon appear. The appearance of the urge to swarm is affected by insufficient space for laying eggs and accommodation and processing of nectar and pollen, age of the queen, excessive heat in the hive, etc. When these conditions are met, worker bees build queen cells.

Rojenje pčela

When the swarm is caught on a branch, it should be cut off and the bees should be shaken into an empty hive in which the queen lays her eggs, but not at the same time in all, but in phases, i.e. in time intervals. The worker bees begin to feed the larvae in the queen cells and upgrade them very quickly. When the queens are closed, under the influence of worker bees, the queen begins to slow down and even stops laying eggs, preparing for intensive egg laying in the new bee colony that is already beginning to form, and to withstand the strenuous flight ahead of her during swarming. . The worker bees that form a new society, and are still in the old hive, completely stop working and feed very well. They are generally calm, move poorly and thus prepare for the greater activity ahead. The queen, as soon as she stops laying eggs, becomes less fed, her abdomen and genitals narrow a bit and she becomes faster, lighter and more agile, all of which she needs to be able to spend time in the air more safely, from the moment she leaves old hive until she enters the new one.


As soon as the bee workers close the queen cells, the situation in the hive changes - there is more activity, agitation and buzzing, which is specific to the time before swarming, which means that the moment of completion of all swarming preparations is approaching. After that, in a day or two, and at least in three days, the bees finish the last jobs in the old hive. The bees, which have formed a new society, take the last meal in the old society, but it is certainly the strongest meal in the life of the bee. They eat as much as they can, and take as much as they can as a reserve. Bees sting very rarely during swarming because they are not angry. When they have done that last job in the old colony, then usually during the day, between 11 am and 2 pm, they hurry out of the hive with the old queen in a hurry and with a loud buzz.

Sometimes it happens that the young queen hatches before the newly formed society emerges. However, with a new society, the old queen always comes out. This should be known in order to record the age of the queens. When the working bees, queens and a number of drones of the newly formed society have already flown out of the hive, they create a large swarm, in a great mood, they begin to circle above the beehives. It is the most joyful moment for bees. It is interesting that then a large number of worker bees and drones that were in the air nearby, join this celebration and thus increase the whole ceremony. A large part of these bees remain forever part of the newly formed society.

Many wonder how there is no struggle between bees from different societies. However, there are special olfactory glands in bees, which during swarming very intensely secrete a specific olfactory substance, pheromones, which influence the bees to unite from different societies into a single society, as if they were constantly in the same society. The newly formed society will live quite normally, since the smells are equalized during swarming. As they circle over the apiary for some time, the bees gradually move away from the hive, but usually not far. Soon they are looking for a suitable place near the beehives, most often a suitable branch of a tree, which they land on. Sometimes it happens, true very seldom, that a swarm does not stop near the apiary, but flies away so that the beekeeper cannot find it at all. To prevent this from happening, you should always have fine sand or a sprayer with water at the apiary, so when the swarm is estimated to reach the culmination of circling above the apiary, throw sand on it or spray it with water. The bees immediately start landing in the immediate vicinity, because they have the feeling that it is raining, so they are "afraid".

When it lands on an object, the swarm calms down and stays on it, usually for a few hours. During this time a number of worker bees go to look for a more convenient place to settle permanently. When they find him, they immediately return and lead the whole colony. Therefore, how long the swarm will stay where it landed depends solely on how much time the scouts will spend finding a new spot. Sometimes it takes half an hour, and sometimes 24 hours or more. Therefore, the beekeeper should not wait for the scouts to return, but as soon as the swarm calms down, he should be caught and placed in the hive. Previously prepared and disinfected hives are placed under bees. If the swarm is high, and the tree is such that it cannot be climbed, then the rope is attached to one or two long poles, the branches are placed under the clubs, and the branch on which the swarm is located is shaken with the other pole. When the swarm is shaken, the basket is placed under the same tree on a board (the smallest size of the basket opening) and thus left to stand until evening. If we want to leave the swarm in the hive, then in the evening we move it to a permanent place or shake the bees from it into a hive with a moving honeycomb. If the swarm is caught on a suitable branch so that it can be cut off and transferred together with the swarm and shaken into a basket with a moving honeycomb, then a swarm is not even needed. This procedure is simpler and far better, so it should be applied whenever possible.

Pčele rojenje

If the swarm is caught in a suitable place, a beehive can be placed above the bees, in which a little honeycomb with honey has been established, and even better, a piece of brood. The bees then swell up with smoke, and soon begin to enter the hive, because in their nature they move upwards. When all the bees enter the hive, it is carefully removed and it is further treated as usual. We point out that the swarm can be caught more easily if a frame with a honeycomb with litters is placed in a suitable place, which very quickly attracts the queen and the brood. It is characteristic that the bees from the swarm will not return to the old hive, even if they place it in front of the hive from which it flew. One bee colony can swarm once, twice or even three times a year. The first swarm is called the firstborn, the second the second, the third the trace. The firstborn is in fact the strongest, but it has an old queen, sometimes so old that the company cannot easily develop into a normal one. If a swarm swarms in the same year, then a new swarm is called a pair, if in the same year a pair swarms by chance, then that swarm of pairs is called white bees. The first ones are the best swarms, the ones from the fifth month. Later swarms are getting worse, so it takes a lot of effort and effort to develop and strengthen them. In the bee colony from which the swarm emerged, the urge to swarm is usually soon extinguished. It has a young queen, and thus excellent conditions to recover faster and resume normal life and work. As a rule, as soon as the first queen is made, the other queens are destroyed. However, if for any reason more queens are made, then the bee company leaves one, and destroys all the others, and most often they fight alone and the weaker one is destroyed, and the stronger one remains in the society.

However, the increase in the number of colonies should not be based on natural swarming for the following reasons: natural swarming reduces the yield of honey, primarily because bees become less active in collecting materials and making honey, because they are preparing for swarming. Societies usually divide at a time when they should be strongest, etc. During natural swarming, swarms can escape. Then, natural swarming cannot be directed to the time we want. In natural swarming, it can happen that swarms swarm twice, and in some years they do not swarm at all. The control of queen performance, its quality, age, is mostly beyond the control of beekeepers during natural swarming. All these weaknesses can be removed by artificial swarming, so that the strength of society is maintained, or swarming at the time of the highest honey intake.


Artificial swarming



The first way. If there are, for example, 12 frames in the hive we are swarming, six frames are transferred to the newly prepared hive, taking care that the frames with the brood and the frames with honey are arranged correctly. It does not matter in which hive the queen will remain, but it is very important to know in which hive it is located. A company that does not have a queen should be given a spare, preferably already paired queen. Place the hives next to each other so that each one takes up half of the place where the old hive was. They can be spread, but not more than one meter, so that the place of the old hive remains in the middle. The entrance of both hives should be placed at the same height and turned to the same side as the entrance of the old hive was turned before swarming. Both beehives should be painted the same color. When returning from the pasture, the picnickers, in case they do not find their hive in the place where it was, are arranged so that half goes to the left and half to the right hive. Just in case, both hives should be kept narrow for a day or two. After six to eight days, if necessary, the hives can be gradually moved every day by half a meter, until they are transferred to the place we want, and they can stay where they are. This method of artificial swarming can be applied even when we do not have a spare queen. Process is completely the same, except that in the hive in which there is no queen, the queen cells are transplanted, and if there are no queen cells, then a frame with a honeycomb on which the queen was found can be inserted. The worker bees, as soon as they notice that there is no queen, will build a queen cell from the larvae cells and produce the queen.

Umjetno rojenje pčela

Second way. Artificial swarming can also be done when the appropriate number of bee frames is taken from two, three or more hives, strictly taking care not to have a queen on them. All these frames, including the corresponding number with young brood and honey, are placed in empty hives, sprayed with fragrant liquid and so a new colony is formed from several colonies that will build queen cells and produce the queen or it can be added queen from reserve. Since all the queen bees will return to their parent colonies, the new colony will have only young bees, which have not yet hatched from the hive, so it should be watered, and if there is no honey, it should be fed.

The third way. In the hive that is swarming (we mark it with the number 1), the queen is found and the frame on which it is located, with another one or two frames with an open brood, is moved to the hive where a new society is formed (we mark it with the number 2 ). In the basic hive that we are swarming, there must be one frame left, in the honeycomb of which there are freshly laid eggs and young one-day-old larvae, which is necessary to produce the queen. In the basket with the newly formed colony, on both sides of the frames with the brood, we put two frames with wax bases and one frame with honey and pollen powder. We place this hive in the place of one of the hives that has a very strong colony (marked with the number 3), and we move this hive at least two to three meters further. All honey bees from hive 3, due to the change of location, will fly to hive number 2 and thus significantly enhance the newly formed swarm. The colony in hive number 1 will produce the young queen or will be added to it from the reserve and so it will quickly develop and strengthen because all the worker bees remain with that colony, and only a part of the young bees is transferred to hive number 2. 3 will also recover quickly as it has plenty of bood and a good and fertile queen.

Next, swarms should be inspected periodically to see if they have a queen. It often happens that swarms lose the queen in various ways: when flying out for mating, various pests can destroy it, when returning from mating they can enter someone else's hive etc. You should also look at the basic societies from which swarms come if appropriate measures need to be taken.

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