3.3.3. Swarming behaviour

  • As with other behavioural traits (see section 3.3.2.), a 4 point scale is used to classify the swarming behaviour of test colonies (Table 6).
  • Note that typical supersedure queen cells are not considered as swarm cells.
  • All symptoms of swarming behaviour (score 1-4) are noted on each inspection.
  • At the end of the testing season, the lowest registered score, representing the most extreme expression of swarming behaviour, will be assigned as test result.
  • All observed (and usually destroyed) queen cells can be counted throughout the season to quantify slight differences between colonies within the same score. Those differences can be expressed be intermediate scores (3.5, 2.5, 1.5).


Table 6. Standard scoring criteria for colony propensity to swarm.


Symptoms of swarming behaviour


The colony does not show any swarming tendency. There are no swarm cells containing eggs, larvae or pupae.


Low swarming tendency: some queen cells with brood are present, but the overall colony condition does not indicate immediate swarming activities. The preparations for swarming may be stopped by destroying the swarm cells and offering additional comb space.


Strong swarming tendency as indicated by repeated queen cell construction and advanced symptoms of preparation for swarming (reduction of open brood, emaciated queen, limited comb construction).


Active swarming: the test colony swarmed or swarming could be prevented only by extensive intervention (interim nucleus etc.).