Biology and Control

One of the key events in the bee keeping year (for both the bees and the beekeeper) is the swarming season. In order to obtain the maximum honey yield from colonies, the beekeeper needs to manage the natural swarming process.

Much has been written about swarming but this often takes the form of rather prescriptive instructions for swarm control which may, or may not, have the desired result. Swarming is simply reproduction and this book begins with a discussion of the biology of the honey bee in relation to this, the most important part of a colony’s life cycle. Some aspects of the biology of swarming are well understood but others, particularly those that occur within the confines of the hive, are not. However, these have a profound effect on colony behaviour. Only by understanding the biology behind the swarming process and using it for guidance in the application of methods devised for its control, will the beekeeper be able to successfully manage operations.

Over the past 34 years, Wally and his wife Jenny have studied the biology of swarming and used this as the basis for the development of reliable methods of swarm control. This book is presented in two parts: the biology behind swarming followed by the practical swarm control operations that can be used in the apiary. It is suitable for all beekeepers who wish to gain a greater understanding of the entire swarming and swarm control process.

Wally gained an Honours degree in Forestry at University of Wales, Bangor, followed by a postgraduate scholarship at the University of New Brunswick, Canada, studying the ecology of eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). On returning to the UK, he worked for the Forestry Commission, both in the field and at its research station in Hampshire, where he made friends with a beekeeper and had his first encounter with honey bees. He moved to the Nature Conservancy in Wales and was later transferred to the Institute for Terrestrial Ecology. On retirement in 1987, he started beekeeping and has lectured extensively both at home and abroad. He has a particular interest in the swarming process and the methods for its prevention and control.

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