Honey bee swarming is a way bees reproduce in the wild . In captivity, swarming is considered a big problem because it reduces honey production and takes away more than half of the original population of a once active colony. When a colony of bees decides to swarm, the old queen bee leads 50% to 90% of the total population to establish a new hive elsewhere. Queen cells are created by the colony prior to the swarm.
Why Honey Bee Swarming?
One must be very observant to minimize honey bee swarming in a bee colony. But why does a colony swarm in the first place? Here are some of the most common causes for honey bee swarming:
- The colony has had a population explosion. A healthy colony can grow to 50,000 to 60,000 individual members during the summer months. Unfortunately, this is also the time when honey bee swarming becomes an all too common occurrence in bee farms and in the wild.
- The number of young workers and old workers is disparate; the ratio is unbalanced. When there is an imbalance in the population (when there are too many young workers) honey bee swarming can also take place.
- If you have a queen bee that is more than 2 years old, the risk for honey bee swarming is doubled. To avoid this problem, it is necessary to re-queen your colonies at least once every two years with a new queen bee.
- The number of honeycombs is no longer sufficient for food storage and brood rearing. In such cases, creation of a new colony or the addition of supers is necessary.