Watch us perform the Demaree method for swarm prevention on a One Queen Keeper in the video below!

How To Perform Swarm Control Using The Demaree Method

Swarm Prevention: A Guide for Beekeepers

Welcome to the world of beekeeping! In this guide, we'll explore the art of swarm prevention, an essential skill for beekeepers to ensure the health of their colonies and harmony with neighbors. Let's dive in!

Understanding Swarming

Healthy colonies are likely to swarm. It's the bees' natural way of creating new colonies. Swarming typically occurs just before the peak honey flow season, allowing both the old and new colonies to gather enough nectar for winter survival. In our region, swarm season kicks off in April and wraps up by the end of May, making swarm prevention a priority.

Why Prevent Swarming?

You might wonder why we aim to prevent swarming if it's a natural process. Well, here's the buzz: swarms often seek new homes, and sometimes, that means a house's roof instead of a tree in the forest. Public sentiment towards honey bees can quickly shift when they're in a house. Removing them can cost homeowners hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Moreover, swarms in natural settings (not managed by beekeepers) have a survival rate of just around 15%, which is quite low. This is why swarm management is a crucial part of beekeeping.

Meet the One Queen Keeper

Before we delve deeper into swarm prevention, let's review the anatomy of the One Queen Keeper:

  • Brood Chamber: This is the 8-frame bottom box above the bottom board.
  • Spacer Box: The 5-frame medium nuc right above the queen excluder.
  • Exchange Box: A 5-frame deep nuc positioned above the spacer box.
  • Honey Supers: These can be deep or medium nuc boxes and sit above the exchange box.

The spacer and exchange boxes are instrumental in performing the Demaree method for swarm prevention.

The Demaree Method

The Demaree method splits the brood nest into two, making the colony believe it's small and has enough room to grow, reducing the urge to swarm. Importantly, it keeps all the bees within the same hive. Here's how to do it:

  1. When the brood chamber is bustling with bees (use the observation window to check), and 6+ frames are brimming with brood, it's time for the Demaree. Remove 4-5 frames of brood from the brood chamber and place them in the exchange box. Replace these with 4 frames of foundation or frames with drawn comb. Leave the queen and 2 frames of brood (including open brood) in the brood chamber. The spacer box provides space between the bees, further preventing congestion.

  2. A week after the Demaree, check the frames in the exchange box for emergency queen cells. Although it's not common, the bees may think they're queenless and create emergency cells in the exchange box. If you find any, first confirm the presence of a queen in the brood chamber. Then, either remove the queen cell with your hive tool or use the frame to start a new colony in a nuc box. The choice depends on whether you want more hives.

  3. You may need to repeat the Demaree about 2 weeks later, or when the brood chamber fills up again. I often perform the Demaree 3 times in April and May to ensure my hive doesn't swarm. Timing ultimately depends on peak nectar flows in your area. This is the art of effective swarm prevention.

Why Not Everyone Does It

You might wonder why more beekeepers don't use the Demaree method. Well, it's because they might not use the One Queen Keeper which is designed to simplify the process! For beekeepers using Langstroth hives, performing the Demaree requires extra heavy lifting, extra disturbance of the bees, and an increased layer of complexity. With horizontal hives, it's not possible to perform Demaree swarm control at all, and bees swarm more frequently. After you perform it once, it'll start to become clear and second nature.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Avoid these common mistakes when using the Demaree method:

  1. Moving the queen to the exchange box accidentally. To prevent this, shake or brush the bees off the frame into the brood box before moving it up.

  2. Performing the Demaree too early in the season, risking chilled brood. It's rare, and the medium-sized spacer box helps prevent this.

  3. The queen disappearing from the brood chamber. Be cautious during the Demaree to avoid injuring the queen.

  4. Placing a food frame in the middle of the brood chamber. Always leave food frames in positions 1 and 8, so you don't disrupt the brood nest.

  5. Failing to check the frames in the exchange box a week after the Demaree or missing an emergency queen cell. This can result in two queens in your One Queen Keeper.


Check the 7-day weather forecast and assess the brood chamber's population to decide when to perform your first Demaree. Typically, early to mid-April is a good starting point. Remember, spring management is an art, and each colony has its unique characteristics in terms of strength and early spring brood production.

In the end, having more bees in your One Queen Keeper translates to increased honey production that you can harvest and happy neighbors who won't find a bee colony in their roof. So, embrace the Demaree method for swarm prevention. It's surprisingly straightforward when using the One Queen Keeper, and it'll all make perfect sense after your first few attempts.

Happy beekeeping, and may your colonies thrive! 🐝🌸