A different view of swarms

Beekeepers spend a lot of mental and physical energy trying to prevent swarms. A hive that swarms is less productive in making honey than a hive that doesn’t, particularly if the swarm occurs during a honey flow.

But, maybe we should stop, take a moment, and consider the good that a swarm can do.

First, swarming is a natural activity. It’s something that bees do to increase their populations. A bit of common wisdom among beekeepers is that swarms occur because the hive gets crowded, but we’re not really sure that’s the case. Adding more room to a hive may help, but it may not.

So what are the benefits of a swarm?

The obvious one is that if you can catch the swarm, you have another colony of bees, and those bees are inclined to draw comb. Beekeepers have been taking advantage of that for many decades.

But, there is another benefit to a swarm that is rarely mentioned. The hive from which the bees swarmed is left with a new queen. She’s young, and she’s locally mated. That means you won’t have to replace her any time soon. And many people now believe that local queens are more able to survive and fight off pests than imported queens.

So, if your bees are about to swarm, maybe you should sit back and let them do their thing.

Jim Stovall

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