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Shook Swarms

"This past summer a good friend of mine Stan Gore and I did a lot of story swapping and experimenting with the Shook Swarm Technique and found it to be a very useful tool in the bee yard."   

Why use the Shook Swarm Method

Converting Deeps to Mediums

If you have deep foundation and you are wanting to convert it to mediums the Shook Swarm Technique works well.

The left-over deep frames full of resources can then be used to help weaker colonies. You can use the double screen method– just set the shaken deep resource frames on top. The double screen must have an entrance separate from the bottom box. After about 7 days when plenty of nurse bees have emerged from those deep resource frames above the double screen, you can add a mated queen, or you can allow them to make their own queen. Then transfer the box to its own bottom board and set anywhere. In a couple of weeks you’ll have bees that have aged into forgers.

Phasing Out Wonky Comb

When a person does bee removals they often save brood comb. They will rubber band the brood to the frames and place in a new box. Once the hive gets established well, and it is your desire to rid yourself of the wonky comb, you can shake the bees off the wonky comb onto new foundation. Place the old hive with wonky comb above a double screen board with the entrance pointing the same direction as the newly shaken hive. Note: On day 10, there will most likely be capped queen cells on the wonky comb which you can harvest and use if needed. Now you can discard old comb.

Brood Break for Varroa

One technique to reduce varroa counts is a complete brood break. When varroa counts are very high, I recommend taking the shaken frames and new hive body and set them on their own bottom board. Move an established hive and set it there so it will have immediate forgers and let them make their own queen. This will accomplish a brood break. The hive that you moved will recover and have new forgers in a week.

Swarm Control in The Spring

In the spring, you can accomplish swarm control while making a strong new hive at the same time (split). Once you shake all bees down on new foundation (Shook Method), put a double screen board on top of that box with a separate entrance and set the old hive with old comb, brood, and food, on top of the double screen board. In 5 to 7 days after some nurse bees have emerged above the double screen board, add a mated queen, or let the bees continue in making their own queen. Then set that box on its own bottom board. Note: There needs to be a flow when using double screen method.

How to Perform the “Shook Swarm” Technique

  1. Move original hive over a couple of feet.
  2. Set up a new bottom board with queen excluder (A MUST) where the original hive was. Place entrance in the same direction as the original hive.
  3. Set your new hive body on the queen excluder, then add new foundation to the new hive body, leaving 3 or 4 frames out for shaking room.
  4. Keep looking for the queen as you pull the frames out and once found, cage her and add the caged queen to the new shook swarm box.
  5. Frame by frame shake all the bees into the new hive body, making sure at the end of the process that the queen is in the new box.
  6. Add back empty center frames.
  7. Add a feeder with a 1/2-gallon one-to-one syrup every two days. Also feed a 4x4 inch square pollen patty or enough patty that the bees will consume in 4 days. If you feed too large a portion of the pollen patty, small hive beetles will lay eggs in pollen patty.
  8. Remember the bees have no comb, honey, pollen, or nectar. A good strong shook swarm should grow into a full hive body in 2 weeks. Feeding is a must.

By: Earnie Welch
 Madisonville, TX


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