Shook Swarm

This is a very effective way of quickly changing all your brood frames and will result in removing all pathogens from the hive, it can however be quite stressful for the bees, so you need to ensure you have a good quantity of young bees in the colony before you carry out the shook swarm. 

The best time to do the shook swarm is late spring, you should have plenty of young bees by this point. The method is quite simple: Lift your brood box off the floor and move it to one side. Place a queen excluder on the floor then place a a new clean brood box, containing brand new frames and foundation, on top of the queen excluder. Remove 5 or 6 of the center frames to create a gap.  Now go to your original brood chamber and remove the first frame. Shake all the bees off this frame into the gap you created in your new brood box. Repeat with all the frames, look for the queen as you go. Personally I would lift the queen off the frame and place her into the new brood box, you can just shake her in if you prefer. If you didn’t see the Queen throughout the procedure do check the walls of the old brood box and make sure she is not there.  Shake any bees left on the brood box walls into your new box too.

Gently replace the 5 or 6 frames back into the gap in your new brood box, place the crownboard on top along with a feeder full of syrup.  Keep this feeder topped up until your bees have sufficient stores in their new frames.  The queen excluder on the floor will stop the queen from leaving and taking the bees with her. Once your queen is happily laying you can remove the queen excluder (2 weeks is a good bet)

The old frames you removed that have stores in them can be extracted and the wax rendered, any frames with brood in are best burnt. If you do extract stores from these frames, make sure you are confident they are stores of honey and not syrup that you may have offered in your winter preparations.

Carrying out a shook swarm on a colony with a good volume of young bees will very quickly work the new foundation in your frames, you may be quite surprised how quickly this happens. Do ensure they have a constant supply of syrup.

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