The 'pioneering method'

The pioneering method (as described in the book 'Beekeeping for All' written by Abbe Warre) is very similar in effect to a 'shook swarm.'  In both the 'pioneering method' and the 'shook swarm' the bees are made to start building their nest again from scratch in new boxes. 

 

The 'pioneer method' or 'shook swarm' provides a valuable way of reducing varroa numbers, inhibiting EFB and nosema, reducing swarming as well as, possibly, increasing honey yields. 

 

About the two methods

The original desired effect of the 'pioneer method' (as Abbe Warre saw it) was an increase in honey yield. This is bought about because there is no brood to feed; hence many more worker bees are freed up to help bring in the nectar.  It may also help to reduce the swarming urge.

 

The 'shook swarm' method, as currently used, effects the same result. However the reason for doing it is usually to replace all brood comb at once rather than to replace a few combs each year.  This allows all the old comb to be removed immediately. It is now widely recognized that changing all brood combs in one operation can help to inhibit brood diseases such as European Foul Brood (EFB) and Nosema. 

 

The 'pioneer method' and varroa

The 'pioneering method' or a 'shook swarm' also has a big impact on varroa populations because all developing brood, along with developing mites are removed from the colony. 

 

So this just leaves the mites that are on the bees themselves. 

 

If the colony that has been just been 'pioneered' is then dusted with powdered sugar on a regular basis (say every 5-10 days) this will remove a very large proportion of the mites from the colony.  This is one of the integrated pest management (IPM) methods i am using to control varroa levels within my colonies. 

 

To see pictures of a Warre hive after applying the 'pioneering method' please click here.  Please note: the gallery may take a few moments to load as both sides of all combs are shown in high resolution.