The Demaree method of swarm control was first published in the late 1800s and has evolved since. When using the Demaree method, the beekeeper separates the queen from most of the brood by manipulating the frames and a using a queen excluder. The result is a hive with little congestion and lots of room for the queen to lay. In essence, the hive “believes” it has already swarmed.
The basic steps
- Remove the hive from the hive stand, leaving only the screened bottom board and slatted rack (if you are using one).
- Above that, place a brood box filled with empty drawn comb.
- Remove the center two frames of drawn comb and set aside.
- Go back to the active brood boxes and find the queen.
- Place the queen and two frames of sealed brood in the center of the new brood box.
- Place a queen excluder above this box.
- Above the queen excluder, place one or more empty honey supers (with frames) and then the original brood box where you found the queen. Push the brood nest together in the center and put the two empty drawn frames (from step 3) on either end of the box.
- Add your inner cover and telescoping lid.
- After one week, go through the top brood box and remove any swarm cells.
- If necessary, the entire procedure may be repeated after 9 or 10 days.
From top to bottom, your hive will look like this.
|Brood box with sealed and unsealed brood|
|Brood box with drawn frames, 2 frames sealed brood, and queen|
|Hive stand with bottom board and slatted rack|
What happens inside
Now that you have the hive set up, this is what happens:
- The nurse bees stay with the brood and care for it.
- The field force continues to forage for honey and pollen.
- The queen continues to lay eggs and has lots of places to do so.
This situation is much like a hive that has already swarmed. The major difference is that both parts are in the same box. However,
- As soon as the queen scent decreases in the top box, the bees will try to raise a queen from young larvae.
- You may destroy these cells or remove them to a nuc.
- After the brood hatches, the brood cells will be backfilled with honey.
- In the end, the hive will not have swarmed, so it will contain lots of bees and lots of honey.
- The growing hive may once again develop the urge to swarm, which is why a second Demaree is often needed.
Good control but labor intensive
The Demaree method can be quite effective at swarm control, but as you can see, it is quite labor intensive. It involves a lot of manipulation, good opportunities to lose or damage your queen, and a lot of heavy lifting. On the other hand, not only can you prevent swarming, but you can obtain some queen cells in the process.One more important point: When you set up the Demaree hive, be sure to remove any swarm cells that are already present. Any cell not removed may hatch and cause a problem within the hive.
Honey Bee Suite