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Swarm Trigger

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Many factors have been proposed as causes of swarming. It is not so much a single feature that is important, but the combined weight of all the contributing features.

Overcrowding .

Bumping into each other two types of bumping activity have been observed. The one that is important from a triggering point of view is that which occurs in a crowded nest partly due to the number of bees in the volume of the nest and partly because there are nurse bees casting about in a frantic fashion as all available cells have freshly gathered thin nectar in them.

Reducing "queen" Pheromone .

Lack of egg laying space is often missed by the beekeeper as it may only occur for a brief time when the bees are not under direct observation. If a sudden pulse in nectar production occurs in a group of plants, the bees will respond by foraging in force... bringing home much dilute nectar which is stored in the broodnest. The nectar fills all empty cells and the queen's laying is curtailed due to lack of empty cells. This condition does not last very long as the nectar is concentrated and moved upwards during the night. A feature associated with this effect is that the queen will have been fed at a rate to sustain egg production and there will be a time lag during which the queen may lay eggs from force of need. There will be no cells available for this laying and the egg may be laid on the surface of capped cells, where it may possibly be transported by a worker and placed in a cell or simply be eaten. I am not stating here that eggs are carried about in this manner, but I am saying it is a possible mechanism, that may have a bearing on reports of eggs being transferred by worker bees.

Increasing day length... This is not a direct cause, but if it is true it adds weight to other elements and may "tip the balance".

Swarmy strain may also tip the balance in conjunction with other factors. Largely attributed to the practices involved in skep beekeeping it is certainly noticeable and should be avoided, simply by non selection or re-queening with progeny of less swarmy stock.

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Generated... December 2001