The Beekeeper’s Companion Since 1861
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The Classroom

The Classroom – August 2016

- August 1, 2016 - Jerry Hayes - (excerpt)

Q Big swarm, now what?

large honeybee swarmI collected a very large swarm yesterday. It filled 2.5 deep boxes. I just happened to have 3 boxes that had all drawn comb. I did replace 5 frames with new foundation to keep them busy. My questions are:

  1. With such a large swarm, and now the queen will start laying making the already large swarm even bigger, what can I do to prevent this hive from swarming again?
  1. Would it be wise to sprinkle Terramycin on brood frames, and put Apivar strips in, to prevent issues? I heard swarms are unpredictable with diseases?
  1. How long should I wait till I open this hive up and check for eggs?
  1. It’s large enough that I could already put a honey super on it; would that be wise?

Thank you so much,
Mark Gosswiller


Wow, I wonder where it came from? Your colony? But anyway.

  1. If she started laying right away it will be 3 weeks before the first new bees emerge. Generally swarms don’t swarm. They may abscond if they don’t like the new home, but if there is lots of space to build in and the queen is laying all is well. And certainly in your inspections checking for swarm cells is always on our list.
  2. Swarms on foundation are relatively disease-free. Most bacterial and fungal diseases come from another colony’s reused comb. If you did not have any bacterial disease issues in the colonies the comb came from I wouldn’t treat. Antibiotics are stressors and no need to cure a future disease outbreak. No antibiotics. Great time to treat for varroa as they are all exposed since there is no brood to protect them.
  3. You gave them some drawn comb, so she will be laying right now. Give them 5-7 days to adjust to new hive, then give it a good check.
  4. You could go ahead and put a super on the colony. I would use a queen excluder to keep her out of super. Honey bee colonies respond to space and how they can use it later. Sounds like fun. Enjoy.

Q  Conspiracy Theory?

What do you think of Ross Conrad’s conspiracy theory about neonics and EPA in a May 20th Bee Culture,

Melvin Kleinschmidt


I like Ross. And isn’t it a great thing that we live in a country that allows self-expression like that?

This is what I think I know:

  1. #1 Health problem of managed honey bee colonies is Varroa destructor. It is a direct parasite feeding on honey bee ‘fat bodies’ not hemolymph, so nutritional health is more dramatically affected.
  2. Varroa causes immunosuppression, so benign and latent viruses can reproduce
  3. Varroa vector viruses that with a colony’s suppressed and already shallow immune system helps them reproduce more viruses.
  4. Open wounds from Varroa are another source of continued infection
  5. I think it was a 2012 APHIS study of chemical residues in honey bee colonies that showed that 42% of the chemicals found on a bee hive were miticides/pesticides beekeepers applied to control Varroa. Three percent were neonics.
  6. Many new inexperienced beekeepers sometimes mistreat and abuse their honey bee colonies by not treating for Varroa. And, they lose colonies every year. Look at Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) survey results and respondents.
  7. Let me put a parasite on you the size of a basketball, expose you with toxic chemicals or caustic acid, lower your nutrition, put you on a plane to Kathmandu and I will guarantee you, you will get sick. This is exactly what we are doing to honey bees.
  8. There are three words I want you to memorize—Varroa, Varroa, Varroa.


What-ifs and questions about the Flow Hive. (These are not in any particular order – just accumulated.)

  1. Are the Flow frames food-grade plastic?
  2. Does the plastic tubing come with the Flow super or do beekeepers have to buy it from a supplier? If they have to buy it, will they be sure it is food-grade tubing?
  3. In the photos of the hives (website) no bees are seen flying around the jars of honey, especially the jars with no lids. If I took an open jar of honey into my bee yard on the sunny day shown in the photos, I would be mobbed by bees almost instantly. Even if the jars are given some sort of cover, wouldn’t I expect to see bees around the jars?
  4. I assume a queen excluder is essential. What if a small queen slips through the excluder and lays eggs in the …