Techniques to Stop Your Honeybees from Swarming


Photo by Damien Tupinier on Unsplash

How wonderful it is to visit your apiary and watch all that industrious honeybee activity — oh, no, wait! You see hundreds of bees flowing upward on the hive exterior from the entrance and bottom board? That means you've got a hive that's swarming. It's a sign that there are problems in that hive that requires prompt attention.

Common Reasons Bees Swarm

We all know who's in charge of the hive: the queen. If she decides that more space is needed, or if the original queen was superseded and more than one queen is present in the hive, one of them will signal to the colony that they're leaving. Stop! There she goes with 40 percent of the colony!

This all means that you didn't check conditions in the brood super, or reverse its position in the spring, and you also didn't check for supercedure cells. Well, give yourself a quick whack on the wrist with a hive tool (ouch!), and then get busy and do some hive inspections.

Technique to Stop a Swarm

There they are, flying in a cloud right through the air as you stand there and gawk. Well, you just might succeed at stopping them if you try a trick I learned during my nearly 20 years of keeping bees.

Keep an old tin bucket, stainless steel bowl, or other metal container, and a heavy metal spoon, handy to your bee yard. Then, if you're present when the bees are leaving the hive body, start banging on the metal container with the spoon (or your metal hive tool). Keep it up nonstop, as loud as you can, until you see them going back into the hive bodies. Don't worry what your neighbors will think — they might decide to watch and learn something in the process.

As I understand it, bees don't exactly hear as we do, but they're sensitive to vibrations in the air. Something about that clanging noise causes them to turn around and head back to the hive. Even when they're in flight through the air, I've seen them change course and return back home.

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