SBKA Shook Swarm Initiative

Timing of Shook Swarms

Update April 12th: it’s time to get on with your shook swarms!

The weather forecast over the coming week is looking good for Sheffield. So one of the main factors holding us back has faded away.

The other thing over which we have little control is colony strength. You should not attempt shook swarms with colonies with fewer than 5-6 combs of bees. So:

  1. Strong colony with wax-producing bees – now’s the time to carry out a full health check if you haven’t already. Look for signs of disease and make a note of colony strength.
    1. 10-14 day old bees are efficient wax producers
    2. A colony should have at least 5-6 comb of brood and bees to facilitate comb building
  2. High ambient temperatures – forecast looking positive but we do live in the UK!
    1. Bees need to maintain the nest temperature around 35 deg C to build comb. This is one of the reasons why you need a moderately large colony to undertake a shook swarm
    2. You should not consider shook swarming your bees unless you are certain that the external ambient temperatures will stay around and above 15 deg C for the forthcoming fortnight at least
  3. Feed – make up syrup now or buy some from our shop (we have fresh stocks). You’ll need a gallon or 5 litres per colony.
    1. A shook swarm needs to be fed, even if there is a nectar flow. 
    2. Feed sugar syrup preferably through a rapid feeder
    3. There is a difference of opinion on the optimum strength of syrup to feed to your bees
      1. Some experts say 2:1 (i.e. 1kg sugar to 620ml water)
      2. Others say a thinner syrup is (surprisingly) more effective in that it more closely resembles natural nectar (1 kg sugar to 1 litre of water

If you have strong colonies there’s nothing stopping you from shook swarming now.

One week before performing a shook swarm, you’ll want to carry out a full colony health inspection. See video tutorial below:

Before performing a shook swarm, you’ll want to dig a fire pit and get your equipment ready:

Here’s how to perform a shook swarm:

And finally, how to clean up after a shook swarm:

Related: Another video of how to oerform a shook swarm over on our blog.