George Demuth’s birthday was on Tuesday of this week and no doubt many of you spent the day re-reading his book titled, Swarm Control. At 36 pages it’s a quick read. Although it was published in 1921, the bees are unchanged and exhibit the same behaviors as they did then. An excerpt:
“A colony of bees that is normal and prosperous increases Its brood in the spring as its adult population increases, either until all the space available for brood rearing is occupied or until the queen reaches the maximum of her capacity In egg laying. At first only worker brood is reared but as the colony increases in strength the rearing of drone brood is begun, thus providing for male bees in anticipation of swarming. Finally, when the brood nest becomes crowded with emerging and recently emerged young bees and the combs are well filled with brood, if nectar in sufficient quantity is available, several queen cells are started and eggs are placed in them, this being the first definite preparation for swarming. About nine days from the time the eggs are laid the queen larvae have developed to the point at which the queen cells are sealed, and this is about the time the swarm usually is-sues. The exact time of the issuing of the swarm depends to some extent upon the weather, issuing sometimes being postponed by inclement weather and sometimes, especially in the case of Italian bees, being hastened by extremely hot weather. In nature there is a marked slowing down in work of the colony after the queen cells have been started preparatory to swarming, especially during the last few days previous to the issuing of the swarm, when the field workers in increasing numbers remain in the hive instead of working in the fields.
In some cases in nature the instinct to gather nectar is almost entirely subordinated for several days at this time, the swarming instinct apparently becoming dominant. In well-managed colonies this is not universally true. When the swarm issues, a varying proportion of the adult bees, together with the old queen, fly from the hive, leaving in the original hive a greatly reduced number of adult worker bees, a large number of un-emerged young bees, and several un-emerged young queens. Some of the drones accompany the swarm, but many of them remain in the hive.
After circling in the air the swarming bees form a dense cluster on some convenient support, and after an interval they break the cluster and fly to a chosen abode for the inauguration of a new colony. After establishing themselves in a new home the bees begin almost immediately to build comb, the queen begins to lay eggs, and three weeks later young bees be- gin to emerge from the cells.” Read the book here: