What Causes Bees To Swarm
There are many things that can trigger a colony to swarm including:
- A Change Of Season. When the average temperature of the days and nights rise. This is usually in early spring after the cold temperatures of winter. Rising average temperatures
- Congestion. Overcrowding can drop the availability of queen pheromone to her colony. This can stimulate the worker bees to prepare for a new queen by constructing queen cells.
- An Aging Queen. As with most other animals that age, when a queen gets old her fertility starts to fail. Thus producing fewer eggs and bees. This may cause the workers to decide they need a new queen to sustain a good flow of new bees in the colony.
- Poor Nectar Availability With High Pollen. As more pollen comes in, the nest will grow rapidly. Worker bees that are usually making honey are idle thus overcrowding the brood box of a beehive.
- Genetics. Different strains and races of honeybees can swarm more often than others even when the weather and other environmental factors are the same.
How Many Different Types Of Bee Swarms Are There?
There are basically 3 types of bee swarms. Prime, Secondary and Absconding Bee swarms
What’s A Prime Bee Swarm?
The prime bee swarm is the first bee swarm to leave the hive. Often a hive will only swarm once in the peak season, therefore, the primary swarm is the most common. A primary swarm is typically about the size of a soccer ball or bigger. It typically has 25,000 or 50% of size of the parent colony. About 100 male bees (drones). And the original mated queen bee.
What’s A Secondary Bee Swarm?
Also known as an after swarm, secondary swarms occur after the prime swarm. When bees are preparing to swarm there will often be many queen bee larvae in the colony. If these virgin queen bees emerge from their queen cells, one queen may leave with half of the colony. For example about 12,500 bees. This type of swarm is about half the size or less than a soccer ball, the secondary bee swarms are less common. If they do occur, they will follow a few hours or even a few days after the primary swarm has fled. These swarms contain a young virgin queen. Less frequently, secondary swarms can sometimes re-occur and will reduce in size by about 50% each time.
What’s An Absconding Bee Swarm?
These rarely occur but over recent years they have been known to occur more frequently. Absconding bee swarms are the result of problems in the beehive such as starvation, pests overtaking the hive, or disease. In this case, very few if any bees will be left in the beehive. A phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) can sometimes be referred to as absconding bees.