The QUEWE Board as an Artificial Swarm Board

I have since found that this is similar to a Cloake Board.

Swarming

Honey Bees reproduce by swarming!

But the beekeeper doesn't want the hive to swarm, because a hive that swarms doesn't have enough time to produce enough excess honey.

A swarm is mainly made up of young bees and the old queen. While the parent hive is mainly made up of foragers (as they are too old to survive a swarm), very young nurse bees, who are left to raise a new queen and the remaining brood.

The QUEWE Board as an Artificial Swarm Board

If they want to swarm, do the split before they do it themselves, so you don't loose them to the wild yonder.

Summary of the Steps

  1. Put at least three frames of brood and a frame of stores in a new top box above a QUEWE board. (Just make sure the queen is NOT on these frames.)
  2. Replace the frames from the brood nest with blank frames, alternated with two brood frames.
  3. If a large amount of foragers, put a super on top.
  4. Close the original entrance.
  5. After 7 days, cull the queen cells down to two.
  • There are now two "middle" entrances, each one faces opposite directions.
  • Forages go to the top box and have no queen so raise a new one, so store more nectar due to little amount of brood.
  • Bottom box has the old queen and no resources coming in as there are only nurse bees, so more room for the queen to lay.

The Steps in Detail:

1. Create a QUEWE board with a Queen Excluder. Having three solid sides with an entrance on the top of the board and three solid sides with an entrance on the bottom side of the board, facing opposite directions. To be sure queen cells are built you can also cut a piece of fly wire to fit on the top part of the queen excluder.

bottomsm.jpg topsm.jpg

2. Remove and place into a new brood box at least three frames of brood WITH SOME EGGS and at least one frame of capped honey & pollen from the old brood nest. (This is for the new top broodnest). You can remove up to half of the brood nest frames and stores. Make sure the queen is NOT on them!

(Do this step during early to mid spring, just before swarm season, about when Apple trees blossom. Also make sure there are Drones flying. You can also do this if you find queen cells during an inspection. Move all the frames with queen cells into the new brood box, up above the queen excluder.)

3. In the old brood nest, alternate empty frames with groups of at least two brood frames (empty frames have no foundation, or just a strip of foundation for a guide). For example:

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4. Now place the QUEWE Board on, with upper entrance half open and lower entrance only open about 12mm (1/2") for Drones to exit. If you want to be sure that they make queen cells and that a virgin queen can't get through the excluder, place a piece of fly wire mesh cut to size, to fit on the excluder part of the board.

5. Place the new broodnest box on top of the Artificial Swarm Board (with the frames of brood and frame of capped honey & pollen in the box and remember, make sure there is NO QUEEN.) Place frames of empty drawn comb (if you have them), or empty frames to fill up this box again alternated with groups of two frames from the brood nest. For example:

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6. If you want to encourage queen cells even more, break the wall of the bottom half of a cell with an egg or newly hatched larvae in it and then break the next two or three cell walls directly underneath it. Do several of these, spaced out. It allows the bees to make larger queen cells because they then don't have to float the larvae out of a cell first.

7. Close the original entrance.

8. After 7 days, cull the queen cells down to two. This helps to prevent swarms as it look more like supersedure.

Discussion

Most foraging bees will end up in the top box, above the QUEWE Board. The nurse bees on the brood frames will start queen cells due to lack of queen pheromone (especially if a fly wire mesh sheet is used). A virgin queen will emerge as soon as 11 days later and then go on to mate using the upper entrance. It can be about a month in total before she's laying properly.

The bees in the bottom box will mainly be nurse bees, so little resources will be coming in. (It usually takes three weeks before a bee starts foraging.) This box is actually the artificial swarm as it contains the old queen and mainly nurse bees. The old queen continues to lay and if needed older nurse bees will start foraging.

Once the new queen is laying, you can open up the lower entrance of the board to half (and remove the fly wire mesh from the top of the board, if you used it).

Place a super on before it's needed. This is now a two queen hive and can build up quite fast once they get going.

You now have the option to remove the old queen and/or remove the QUEWE Board . Or you can split the two broodnests to make two separate hives.

Before

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H H B B B B B B H H

After

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H H B E B B E B H H
H H B E B B E B H H

How we came up with the Idea

When doing our first Trapout, we took a frame of brood with the queen from a 5 frame Nuc. The remaining 4 frames were then merged with the hive next to the Nuc by placing a Queen Excluder on top of the existing hive and then the 4 frames placed in a box on top of the excluder. A few days later the nurse bees on the four frames above the excluder made 10 queen cells! Even though they were in a hive with a queen.

When bees are not used to and don't have to go through a queen excluder it takes a few days before they work out how to get through this new obstacle. So the bees above the excluder didn't get enough queen pheromone, and created queen cells because of that.

The theory here is to have distinctly separate brood nests, separated by several inches (at least three) or several frames of capped honey, or some sort of partition such as a Queen Excluder or even a plywood board. This is so that not enough queen pheromone gets from one brood nest to the other other. The side without a queen will feel the need to raise a new queen. The queen pheromone needs to get diluted enough by the time it gets to the queenless brood nest for them to need to make queen cells. This only takes a few days.


Disclaimer: This is not a guarantee to stop swarming. More tests and experimentation are required to give an idea of success rate.

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