why a swarmed hive doesn't bring honey anymore?

Basic beekeeping, this is beekeeping after the first winter until about the third or fourth year. You are a beekeeper, but you still have a lot to learn. Talk about normal everyday beekeeping here.
Max90
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why a swarmed hive doesn't bring honey anymore?

Postby Max90 » Mon Oct 09, 2017 12:37 pm

Most beekeepers try to prevent swarming, because a swarmed hive brings no honey.
But why exactly a swarmed hive doesn't bring honey anymore this year? If half of it's bees left, it should bring at least half of the yield. So if I catch the swarm, the combined yield of swarmed and left bees should be the same as with one hive, that didn't swarm. Right? -Probably not. But why exactly not?

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GregV
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Re: why a swarmed hive doesn't bring honey anymore?

Postby GregV » Mon Oct 09, 2017 2:51 pm

Because there is a such thing called "overhead" (like in any good old business project).
This is the same as fixed cost in business term.

In bee terms, this is the population fraction of the colony that is required to just keep the colony itself functional and alive.
Bees have a very energy and resource intensive business model (imagine a large corporation that produces cars, for example; very similar).
For example, it takes bees to maintain the colony's internal temperature optimal so the brood develops properly at 90-95F (they both warm the nest up and cool nest down as needed). That alone takes several thousand bees working around the clock. These bees must stay at home at all times and not leave. ....By the time you add all the housekeeping needs (feeding brood, wax building, etc), you are talking of 20-30K bees for any decently sized colony just to keep the colony running. Typically, these are the younger bees, but able foragers must stay home too if not enough bees can do the house chores. This is your fixed cost (20-30K bees; less for a weak colony).

For the bees to bring any significant amount of stores, there must be a strong foraging workforce above and beyond the core bee population.
In very general terms, a colony must have additional 20-30K (more is even better) of available bees to go out and forage and bring in any significant amounts of pollen/nectar to be stored away. Keep in mind, the colony goes through tens and hundreds of pounds of nectar/pollen through the year just to stay alive - hard working summer bees must eat a lot, you know.

Back to your question - a colony just lost 50% of the population and is back to its very core housekeeping population.
Vast majority of the best worker bees just left with a swarm.
All you have left is very old bees, very young bees, brood, and no laying queen yet available.
This colony must build up before the population has any significant amount of forages again (this will take several weeks).
By the time the colony builds up from the loss, they already missed a large part of the summer and many foraging opportunities they could have utilized.
Obviously, if this colony just brings enough stores to overwinter this is a success and this is what you want for a better next year from this colony.

Your own mileage may vary, naturally, but this is how the general idea goes.
Last edited by GregV on Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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GregV
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Re: why a swarmed hive doesn't bring honey anymore?

Postby GregV » Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:04 pm

A good comparison I saw somewhere and can not find now...

Two hives with 15K bees each will bring less honey in total than ONE hive with 30K bees.
Two hives with 30K bees each will bring less honey in total than ONE hive with 60K bees.
And so on...
All about the overhead.


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