Shook Swarm Technique
Secondary Purposes:To replace the brood combs at the beginning of the season, preferably in April/May during a honey flow and as an alternative to an artificial swarm in April, May & June. This can also reduce varroa very effectively.
Rationale:To remove any possible reservoir of infection from the colony by removing all brood combs that may contain bacteria. Treatment with anti-biotic for EFB will not necessarily remove all bacteria and therefore the disease can recur.
A colony must be strong enough to withstand a Shook Swarm, ie. At least 6 British standard brood frames of bees and have a satisfactory laying queen. The colony must be able to draw out the foundation and therefore the ideal months are from late April to June.
The beekeeper must have ready for use, clean/sterilised equipment for a new hive. This is your opportunity to give the colony a clean hive to start the season, similar to the hiving of a natural swarm.
- Move the colony a short distance from its original position.
- Place a clean brood chamber with clean frames with foundation, with a clean floor and entrance
block, on the original position. Use a queen excluder between the floor and chamber, to prevent the
queen from absconding. Find the queen and cage her for safekeeping during this manipulation.
- Remove approximately 3 central frames of foundation from the new hive.
- Shake all bees from the original hive into the centre (do this by lowering the frames, one at a time,
into the gap and shaking all the bees into the depth of the chamber) and brush any remaining bees.
- Put the old frames, without bees into a bag for destruction later. In foundation replacement & swarming situations, it is a good idea to put 1 original frame of open brood into the new chamber.
(see note below on varroa management)
- When all old frames have been shaken into the new chamber, replace the 3 frames with foundation
gently into place, then carefully release the queen into the brood chamber.
- Feed the bees with sugar syrup until the foundation is at least 75% draw out. If there is already
honey in a super or good nectar flow, feeding may not be necessary, but be careful.
- In the case of EFB, destroy by burning all old brood frames, immediately. Otherwise the frames may be cleaned, ready for new foundation. Also in the case of EFB, any supers may be required to be burnt, unless the Regional Bee Inspector gives you a license to extract the honey for human
Post Note: From recent experience, it is incredible how the colony will recover and produce the usual amount of honey or even more.
Information above has been helped by an article from the BBKA News – April 2002 and personal experience