Catching Swarms

Catching Swarms        ( Malcolm Connell  May 19th, 2016 )

Most articles on swarms talk about how they looked but not how to catch them. Most beekeepers are contacted unexpectedly through the local grapevine and asked to remove a swarm without seeing how it is done. Equipment needed includes: 1) at least 1 box with frames and  lids to carry bees away. 2) Duct tape, 3) A smoker- including matches, newspaper and potato sack pieces to go in smoker. 4) bow saw to cut down branch with swarm on. 5) garbage bag just in case, 6) rope to tie to branch to pull down a high swarm, 7) nuc sized cardboard box to reach a high swarm, better than a heavy box. Almost every house you remove bees from has a ladder. Before going, ask if the person owns the house, how high swarm is, how big and when it arrived. Swarms usually stay 1-2 days and are docile through overfeeding. Procedure: place box  with few frames under swarm. Shake branch quickly. Close the lid quickly before bees fly out. 90% of situations are not that easy. You may need to saw off a branch or 2 as swarm remnants move about. Once you have hived the largest clump which has the queen in the middle, 80-90% of the bees will be in the box within half an hour. You won’t succeed until the queen is in the box. Sometimes you can smoke the bees down a tree by shooting the smoker about 6 inches above the swarm ,continuously moving it down slowly as they move. You can often see the queen when doing this. Just sitting the hive under the tree with frames and honey and leaving it for a few hours can work, but sometimes the bees just fly off elsewhere. It’s more effective to be proactive.

To get all the bees in the box, close it up except for a small opening. Come back after dark or early next morning and quietly tape up all holes and remove hive to your beeyard. A  lot of bees in a single box will suffocate  within an hour if there are no openings. Stop your hive from swarming by checking every 10 days for swarm cells.Bee  vacuums can be used.   ( submitted by Malcolm,, 780-239-9649c