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Learners will be able to recognize and interpret the warning signs exhibited by bee colonies that indicate they may be preparing to swarm. 


Key Takeaways 


  1. Swarm Prediction Essentials: Hilary Kearney shares essential insights on how to predict when bee colonies are gearing up to swarm, helping beekeepers anticipate this natural phenomenon.

  2. Recognizing Early Signs: By closely observing shifts in bee population, increased crowding, changes in pollen collection, comb building, and the presence of drones, beekeepers can decipher the subtle signals that indicate an imminent swarm.

  3. Queen Cups as Indicators: One of the most significant signs highlighted in the video is the appearance of queen cups, structures that serve as clear indications that the colony is preparing for swarming. Understanding these cues empowers beekeepers to take proactive measures to manage the swarm process effectively.

A swarm occurs when a group of bees leaves their original hive to embark on a new adventure – the formation of a fresh colony. 


The Pros and Cons of Catching a Swarm

Catching a swarm offers beekeepers a unique opportunity and presents a mix of advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, swarms are essentially free colonies of bees. Once they leave the original beekeeper’s property, they become an autonomous entity. Moreover, swarms are relatively easy to catch, making them an attractive proposition for beekeepers looking to expand their apiaries.


However, delving into the world of swarms also comes with uncertainties. One of the main challenges lies in the anonymity of the swarm’s history. Beekeepers may not have any information about the colony’s health, origins, or reasons for swarming. It’s a leap of faith, as swarming could be an indicator of robust health or, on the flip side, an attempt to escape disease.


Signs Colony Is Preparing to Swarm

Understanding the signs that a colony is gearing up to swarm is essential for beekeepers. These cues offer valuable insights into the colony’s intentions and can help beekeepers take appropriate action to manage the swarming process. Here are some key indicators to watch out for:

  • Population Surge and Crowding: An increase in bee population and noticeable crowding within the hive are early signs of potential swarming. Bees may congregate on frames and hive surfaces, indicating that they are rapidly outgrowing their current living space.
  • Changes in Pollen Collection and Comb Building: A shift in pollen collection patterns and increased comb building activity are signals that the colony is preparing for a significant change. Bees might be building new comb to accommodate the growing population.
  • Presence of Drones: A noticeable increase in drone activity can indicate that the colony is sensing a community-wide shift. Drones are often a sign that the colony is preparing for the mating season, which can correlate with the swarming period.
  • Queen Cups: One of the most significant indicators is the presence of queen cups. These special cells are constructed by worker bees to raise new queens. When you spot queen cups in the hive, it’s a strong indication that the colony is gearing up for swarming.



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