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Reversing Reconsidered…

One of the tactics utilized in March (in my area – central Virginia, near Richmond) to prevent or discourage swarming is a tactic known as Reversing. Simply put, you take the top brood box and move it to the bottom of the set-up. The strategy is based on the idea that the bees will have eaten their way up into the top box by the end of Winter and the bottom box will be empty of brood (or mostly empty anyway.) By putting the empty space above them, the bees are less likely to feel crowded and will move up into it.

For some time now, I have resisted this technique – primarily because one of the premier beekeepers that I follow has always been negative on the concept. He believes that this technique simply sets the bees back, forcing them to reorder their living space, rather than dissuading swarming.

This year, I had several hives that had pretty much empty Deeps beneath them and they swarmed anyway. I’m not sure if this is simply a factor of the weather and genetics (the bees simply were going to issue a reproductive swarm and did so, regardless of any external influences by me – or empty space beneath them), or maybe the fact that I did not reverse them when I could have.

I honestly do not know the answer, but this year will drive me to do a lot of experiments over the coming few years. I will start tracking the colonies that can be reversed and reverse half of them. Maybe reversing is not a bad idea in my area.

2 comments to Reversing Reconsidered…

  • Have you considered checkerboarding instead of reversing?

  • I actually checkerboard now and do think that it helps. But, the main problem with checkerboarding is that you have to take good honey comb (that I literally just store in my shed during the winter, with no issues) and put it into the brood nest. I must admit that I rarely have issues with storing that either, but it does happen – wax moth occassionally get into it.

    But, I haven’t really checked how many of the hives that I checkerboarded swarmed (if any), so it’s a valid point. I’ll check the records before next spring for sure.

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