© 2017-2021, ZBees Apiary, Waynesville, NC.                                                                                                          Buzz the Apiary

Lifetime member of the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association

Buzz the Apiary


Prevent Swarming….

Honeybees working a new black foundationSwarm prevention is one crowning goal of the “beekeeper,” to prevent the hive from leaving to venture off to find another place to set up a new home. Swarming can account for a large part the apiary annual expenses and therefore, hive “space management” becomes a priority to keep your apiary healthy by planning for controlled expansion. Those who fail to control apiary expansion allow hives to make their own plans to expand and fly off to another location. Swarm prevention is controllable. Let me explain, the beekeeper will systematically manage and control the size of the colony by ensuring enough room exists for the bees expand within their hive. Look for signs of overcrowding or “queen” cells, whether:

Honeybees swarming about 35 feet up in an oak tree across from the Apiary and too high to capture. A visual observation indicated that this swarm is approximately, 40,000 honeybees (averages about three to four 3-lb. Packages) - Photos by Wanda Zachary

On April 2, 2018, I invited our NC State Bee Inspector- Lewis Cauble and Haywood County Extension Agent- Bill Skelton to come and inspect the apiary, just to see how I was performing as a “beekeeper.” About 11:00 AM we started the inspection and a man came across the yard saying that my honeybees had swarmed, and they are on an old oak tree across the street. I stated, “those are not my honeybees neighbor.” He was insistent about his statement and I looked at the state inspector and restated, “those are not my honeybees, I promise you.” When Lewis open the middle brood box of this three-box hive the 2017 (yellow dot) queen appeared on the second frame he extracted. The hive received a good report from the inspector and the next challenge involved catching the swarm of honeybees in the oak tree. Sad to say, I never captured them and early the next morning they flew off to find another home.

Honeybees can make multiple queen cells of various types to ensure their survival. If the queen is “genetically” weak and produces too few eggs when there are enough empty brood cells available for laying then, you will most likely find queen cells in plentiful amounts. If the “person who just keeps bees” does not manage the proper amount of space for brood expansion then, you will likely find queen cells all season long.