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Notes from the Audience: 28 February 2023

Dorothie Jones

5 Mar 2023

The Role of Swarm Control in Beekeeping


 Wally lives in Anglesey. He has kept bees for 36 years. Currently he has around 45 colonies. He manages his bees with his wife Jenny. He also manages the local association’s Apiary.  This has 12 hives.



When swarms happen It is often seen as bad beekeeping. This is why we practice swarm control. We know that if we lose a prime swarm our  honey production is severely curtailed.  Other risks include the nuisance to neighbourhood including public places.


Honeybees’ aim,  as with all other species is to reproduce. Honeybees’ method is unique.  Wally went into detail about the ideal nest size (approx 40 litres).  National hives deep brood box are 35 L.


He discussed the annual life cycle and timing of the swarm  process. As well as how prime swarms and cast swarms work from spring into the following winter.


It is important to understand that bees instinct is to pass on genes. This is of course done via the queen and drones. NB: The queen will try and lay as many drone eggs as she can.  The workers may resist this to some degree.


Internal triggers

 Triggers for swarming as follows:

Size of colony and space for queen to lay

Age of queen

Space for production of honey from nectar

Queen substance


External triggers

Time of season

Weather (long periods of unsettled weather often result in Queen cells being produced)


What can we do


Give queen more space to lay as well as space for nectar production. Increase box size.

National shallow (super) box 23 Litres

National deep brood  box 35 litres

National 14 by 12 box 48 Litres


Wally showed a picture of vertical stack brood and a half including supers total volume 196L.  He stressed the importance of replacing comb regularly. This avoids disease and drawing wax helps colony feel as if it is immature. This can help them.

A video of Wally's discussion can be seen here

The Welsh Beekeepers Association free publications can be found at:

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