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Getting a Langstroth Nuc-advice on "shook swarm" t

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New Bee

Joined: 18 Mar 2014
Posts: 2
Location: United States, Baltimore MD

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:11 am    Post subject: Getting a Langstroth Nuc-advice on "shook swarm" t Reply with quote


We have a ordered/reserved a Nuc from a local Beek, it will be Langstroth style with plastic frames. We are most interested in starting (this is our first hive) with an HTB.

I've done some searching and seen the shook swarm as well as chop and crop techniques mentioned, but only found instruction on the chop and crop.

Any advice on chopping plastic frames?

Can someone point me to detailed instruction/description for the "shook swarm"?

Expecting our Nuc in late may.

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Adam Rose
Silver Bee

Joined: 09 Oct 2011
Posts: 589
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have done both chop and crop and shook swarm, and am taking delivery of a shook swarm today for some new local natural beekeepers. In my experience both approaches work well.

Are you an experienced beekeeper ? [ I ask because I am not ! ]. The main difficulty with shook swarm is making sure the queen is OK. The best approach is to get an experienced beekeeper - possibly the person who is selling you the bees - to put the queen in a queen cage. If you damage or lose the queen during the shook swarm process you will be in a mess because there is no brood that the bees can use to raise an emergency queen. Having the queen in a queen cage makes it easier to ensure the queen's safety during the transfer. Either you can ask your bee supplier to shake the bees off the frames or you can do it yourself. It's not rocket science, you just shake all the bees off the existing frames into the new hive, perhaps using some smoke for those that don't want to go.

I have no idea about chop and crop with plastic frames ! It's a purely physical thing, you need to have a quick and reliable method of chopping up the frames to get them into the right shape to go into the TBH. Can your supplier give you bees on wooden frames ?

There is always Phil's split based approach. Phil has posted at least once on this forum about this, but I can't find the link. Perhaps Phil or someone else can find it. The nice thing about that is that you end up with two colonies. But you have to be a bit more patient than with either chop and crop or shook swarm Smile.

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Adam Rose
Silver Bee

Joined: 09 Oct 2011
Posts: 589
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a version of Phil's split based approach from There might be more detailed, up to date versions of this method somewhere.

1) Move the hive to the new location. Strap it all together and be sure to allow plenty of ventilation. Move at dusk after the bees have returned home.

2) Place hive exactly where you want TBH to be. Leave it alone for at least 3 days to settle.

3) On a fine afternoon, lift off super and set aside on upturned roof with crown board still in place.

4) Make space to add three top bars in between alternate pairs of brood frames - 2 frames, 1 bar, 2 frames... etc. If that means removing frames to make space, remove outer/least used frames. Optionally, make up a 3-5 frame nuc if there are Q cells present.

5) Leave for 5 days, then check TBs for comb. What you want to see is at least one fresh comb with nectar, pollen and young larvae in it, covered with bees. If the queen has not yet laid on any of it, out it back and check again in a couple of days.

6) When you have 2+ combs as above, move the whole hive ONLY a couple of paces to one side and put the TBH with its entrance as close to the position of the old entrance as you can get it. Move the combs on top bars into the TBH, side by side, in the middle. place 2 bars either side of them. Check combs for the queen, and move her on a comb if possible: otherwise, find her in the National and move her - use a queen clip or tube trap or matchbox - not your fingers! If you can't find her, don't worry - as long as the TBH has fresh eggs, they will make themselves a queen.

7) Now shake about half the bees from the National into the TBH, close to the combs you have added. Place followers each side and adjust space with extra bars until it looks right.

Cool Close up both hives and leave them alone for at least 3 days. You can replace the combs you removed from the National, unless you made a nuc. Hives should be side by side, so some foragers find their way back to old hive, but most go to TBH.

9) If you moved the queen, the old hive will make a new one. Whichever hive is queenless, leave alone for four weeks, by which time you should have a laying queen.

10) Worst case: if the old hive fails to raise a queen, shake all the bees into the new hive.

If all goes well, you could end up with a National and a TBH running side by side. Repeat the operation with your next TBH.
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