There has been one thing that seems to always confuse new beekeepers, myself included; the artificial swarm. When I was revising for my Basic Beekeeper exam here in the UK, it struck me that the instructions were somewhat confusing reading them on paper. Even diagrams weren’t helping, or rather they were until you started discussing the manoeuvre with other slightly confused beekeepers.
I was witness to a training session with groups of beekeepers walking around with empty hives putting them in all sorts of weird and wonderful positions. Head scratching was certainly evident in at least 90 percent of the beekeepers with the further 10 percent just looking a little bit dazed.
Being a little nosy I had to join to see what all the fuss was about and it was immediately evident that deep discussions about artificial swarms were taking place and everyone was confusing everyone else! Before I listened in I thought I had a general grasp of what to do, but afterwards I was left completely confused.
However, as I looked around I noticed another group all huddled together around a lady I knew to be Audrey, a delightful lady who was a very experienced beekeeper. Again, being nosy I had to go and see what was going on.
This was a completely different looking group; quiet, contemplative and intent on watching Audrey play around with what appeared to be little wooden blocks. It transpired that her partner of many years had made her some miniature beehives for her to explain her artificial swarm manoeuvre perfectly. They were wonderful, and due to their size it meant it was all very easy and straight forward to explain.
It was immediately clear what to do and everyone, aside from those still milling around scratching heads, left 100 percent confident of how to perform an artificial swarm.
Having looked around on the internet for a video that showed how to perform an artificial swarm I realised there wasn’t one and so Audrey kindly let me borrow the mini hives (they really are amazing....) and I recorded the video below. I hope this helps people. However, always remember......the queen stays in the original position. That is all I will say!
Video by James Dearsley