WBFS Swarm Collection Register
Eligibility for the WBFS Swarm Register requires confirmation that the beekeeper is registered, a current member of the MRSG and has the necessary equipment ready. Beekeepers should also be familiar with swarm collection techniques, safety and biosecurity obligations.
Swarming is a natural phenomenon that occurs each year, usually in spring or early summer. It is a bee colony’s method of reproduction, as distinct from reproduction of individual bees. Swarming is mostly a feature of strong colonies that have large numbers of worker bees and an active laying queen. Colonies that are weak due to disease, poor queen fertility or starvation are not likely to swarm until they recover and build up in population.
Equipment / Safety
Swarms can vary enormously in size, location and temperament so it is essential to be prepared for the collection and continued management of the colony.
Collection Equipment: this varies depending on the difficulty but typical equipment includes: ladder, secateurs, loppers, suitable swarm box, clean sheet, dustpan and brush, protective clothing, smoker, tape, etc.
Beekeeping Equipment: all equipment for the continued management of the colony should be available before collecting a swarm. This includes protective clothing, smoker, hive tools and hive ware: a clean, well assembled hive including base, lid/roof and full complement of frames/bars is essential. Swarms can expand very rapidly so additional boxes, frames/bars, etc., should be a priority. The hive position should be prepared before collection.
Safety: obtain any assistance and/or permissions appropriate to the swarm location. Ensure members of the public are at a safe distance and any people involved in the collection are aware of their allergic status.
Swarms can carry a number of pests and diseases, so it is important for beekeepers to be aware of their biosecurity responsibilities before collecting their first swarm. Familiarisation with the Agriculture Victoria compliance and anagement content is essential: http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture/livestock/honey-bees/compliance-and-management
Swarm Collection Best Practice:
Quarantine swarms from other hives for at least 3 months. Check for pests and diseases regularly.
Maintain a barrier system between swarm apiaries and other apiaries.
Do not feed swarms until larvae are present. This reduces the risk of them storing AFB-infected honey carried with them. Similarly, ensure swarms are placed onto ‘dry’ frames – no honey or nectar present.
Monitor the colony’s genetic traits – productivity, aggression, hygiene (disease resistance). Re-queen if necessary.