Bee Support and Preventing Swarms

I love this time of year when the dandelions are out and my bees are springing into action! I check on them frequently to see if things are buzzing along smoothly and to make sure the brood are healthy and multiplying. This is the time of year, at the beginning of our warm seasons, for me to play the role of support staff for the hives: making sure they have food (sugar water and pollen patties as needed), looking for evidence of mites or other diseases (treating as needed), securing their hive from hungry bears. A solar powered electric fence has been an effective and efficient source of protection.

One way to prevent swarms is by providing enough housing. This means adding empty boxes with frames - these are called bee "supers", and are essentially bee condos. Each hive can only have one queen with her brood and workers. The hive can consist of anywhere from a minimum of three to six supers (bee high-rise), containing honey and brood. One super is for building brood and the other supers are for honey storage. Swarms primarily happen due to overcrowding.
Sometimes swarms can also happen if two queens are in one hive. Usually, one queen will kill the other (the weaker queen will die), or the second queen will take off with her entourage - hence a swarm! They can swarm to close by branch, barn, empty log or any empty vessel that faces south, is large enough and looks inviting. We've had one swarm that has ended up in the side of our barn (unfortunately on the west end side, where my husband's office is located.😬  Last year we had a swarm that we wrangled, so 5 intended hives became 6. Wrangling bees is a whole other story.

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