Clip and Nuc

Clipping a Queen's wing has been used for many years to stop a queen from being able to fly away with a swarm. Often the queen lands on the ground close to the hive (because she can't fly well) and many of the bees in the swarm when they find the queen hasn't followed, end up having to come back to find her. They may stay with the queen for a while but because she does not follow them they end up going back to the hive. Then wait for a new virgin queen to emerge and swarm with her.

Swarming

Honey Bees reproduce by swarming! This is instinct and it is something they really want to do!

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.

Clip and Nuc Method

1. Clip one of the Queen's wings, no more than one third. So that she can not fly very well.

2. Then place a Beehive on a stand that is high enough for a Nucleus Hive to be placed underneath it. The Nuc should ideally be 5 frames. The middle frame being old hard dark brown brood comb. (So that wax moth or small hive beetle can not eat it.) It also helps to put a few drop of lemongrass oil on the back floor of the Nuc.

3. When the Nuc has caught a swarm, go into the original hive as soon as possible and remove all but the two best looking queen cells.

4. If you want to, after several weeks when the new queen has started laying, the Nuc can be merged back with the original hive

Discussion

When the bees get ready to swarm they fill up the broodnest with nectar so that the queen has no where to lay and she looses weight so that she can fly. When queen cells are close to ready the bees look for a new home and start encouraging others to join the swarm. When they are ready to leave, they pester the queen to come with them. When she goes to leave she can't fly very well and lands on the ground. The swarming bees having flown off to their meeting point find that the queen is not with them. They return to find her on the ground and try to get her to follow. As she is close to the Nucleus Hive, some bees will find the Nuc attractive and start fanning to encourage others to come in. The queen will follow the swarm and they establish themselves in the Nuc. This gives the Beekeeper a sign that new queens are being raised in the original hive. So to stop any more swarms leaving with virgin queens, the bee keeper should as soon as possible remove most of the queen cells, leaving only the two best cells. (In case one fails.)

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

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