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  • Writer's picturePeter Klauza

Shook swarms and Nosema

Why would you do a shook swarm? To discourage swarming and disease

The shook swarm method is used in beekeeping to switch a colony of bees onto a fresh set of combs or foundation. It helps separate the bees from pathogens, disease spores, or residues of treatment chemicals in the combs.

Here's how to perform a shook swarm:

1.Move the entire hive to one side.

2. Place new hive with a clean floor in its place.

3. Put a queen excluder under the brood box to prevent swarming during the process.

This week I did a shook swarm. Not to be recommended to novice beekeepers for a whole host of reasons.  

1)      Its unkind to the bee’s

2)      It causes major disruption to the hive

3)      The bee’s tend to get very aggressive

4)      There are usually a lot of casualties.


I didn’t have much choice, and one of my older self-built hives needs replacing this year. The Queen in the hive is superb and the brood was very healthy.


However, it does offer several benefits:

  1. By moving the bees onto fresh combs, you reduce the risk of disease transmission. Starting with clean combs helps maintain colony health.

  2. Varroa mites often infest brood cells ( not mine , as I don't have varroa in my apiary ). Shaking the bees onto new frames disrupts the mites’ reproductive cycle, as they lose their brood cell hosts.

  3. If you’re introducing a new queen to a colony, the shook swarm method allows her to start laying eggs in a fresh brood nest. This reduces the chances of worker bees rejecting her.

  4. Over time, comb quality deteriorates. Shaking the bees onto new foundation or frames ensures that they build fresh, sturdy combs. This improves honey production and brood rearing.

  5. The shook swarm method disrupts the colony’s brood cycle, reducing swarming tendencies. It gives the bees a fresh start, making them less likely to swarm.

Remember that proper timing and technique are crucial for successful shook swarms


Now, let me cover a disease you might have come across… Nosema

Disease Focus - Nosema

There are two species of nosema that have been identified in the UK, Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae. These are both fungal pathogens which invade digestive cells lining the mid-gut of the bee.

The Causes

Nosema occurs when fungal spores are ingested by adult honey bees. Symptoms are more apparent when nutrition is poor, weather conditions are cold and wet and during long periods of confinement, typically spring in the UK.


The Symptoms

Nosema may be hard to diagnose as there are no real symptoms of the disease. Dysentery is often associated with Nosema apis infection and can be characterized by brown spotting across the hive. It is not caused by the pathogen but as a result of infection. During long periods of confinement, some will defecate in the hive, leading to further infection. Infection by N. apis is also associated with bees crawling around the hive entrance, sometimes with wings held at odd angles.

Its Spread

Beekeepers can spread nosema by transferring contaminated combs between colonies. The spores can remain viable for up to a year. Bees can also spread the disease by feeding on contaminated food and water, cleaning contaminated combs, robbing contaminated hives or drifting to new hives.

To Diagnose it

The simplest method to diagnose a nosema infection is by microscopic examination. Both species are virtually identical when viewed using conventional microscopy, but can be distinguished by an expert eye.

Its Treatment

Beekeepers can no longer use Fumidil B to treat for nosema. The best way to deal with nosema is with preventative measures i.e. maintaining strong, well fed colonies headed by young queens which are more able to withstand infections.


By the way I am offering beginners bee hives for sale at £150 this May. If you are new to beekeeping remember you’ll also need to invest in a Beesuit, Hive tool and gloves, and get some bee’s. I am running a 5% discount this month only.

Happy beekeeping!😎


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