my gardening friend and fellow beekeeper, bill bird of natomas, - yeah you know the guy - a well known blog http://sacramentogardening.blogspot.com/ and gets some good press from the sacbee - he was concerned, as his hello kitty hive swarmed, not once but 4 or 5 times this spring.
at 1900 foot elevation, my hives are about 3 weeks behind bills, but i am going thru a similar process. humans like to think they can control things. we plan and work and do what we can to impose our will upon the workings of nature. it usually doesnt work. occasionally we get lucky.
this year not so much.
i have witnessed at least 8 swarms, all issued from hives that i own, i reversed the brood chambers - which is about all one can do. but i did know this was inevitable. the swarms in the attached picture, are still on the tree limbs 30 feet up, it has rained 2 times since they landed, hopefully they will make it. i think it would be pretty cool if they do.
all of my hives - save 1 - came from swarms captured in 2010. i did not requeen any of them. so swarming is a part of their genetics - of which i did nothing to improve. so in 2011, i intend to change that.
i have 4 new world carniloan queens on reserve to be picked up in mid-june. nwc's are a well established controlled breeding line - which among other things, utilize a small winter cluster. small winter clusters, usually come into spring with less proclivity to swarm.
no swarms = happy neighbors. happy neighbors = bees get to stay.
so in june, new queens will be introduced, by the time fall hits all of the bees in those 4 hives, will be nwc strain. my plan is as follows.
the 4 hives that are not requeened will be joined with the 4 with nwc queens. these 'super hives' will go into winter strong. some time around march, i will split the hives, essentially giving each hive room to grow, without the need to swarm.
this will create 4 hives with new queens. these hives will be requeened with 2012 nwc's queens. the hives requeened in 2011, should be ok thru 2012.
like is said these are my plans - if you have any questions as to success - please refer to paragraph #2.