Category Archives: Swarms & Bee Catching

Learn to Keep Bees 2023

Two of EDBA’s senior beekeepers are once again looking to help train new beekeepers in 2023.

The course offered by Malcolm and Craig is not part of EDBA but with their mentorship program and years of experience, there is no better course in all of Alberta. We can’t recommend it enough! They will be running beginner beekeeper courses for the 8th year in NE and NW Edmonton.

The complete course costs $140 and will be given on 5 different occasions in 2022. You only need to attend one day. The dates are:

  • January 21, Saturday,  8:30am to 3:00pm
  • February 18, Saturday,  8:30am to 3:00pm
  • March 25, Saturday,  8:30am to 3:00pm
  • April 22, Saurday, 8:30am to 3:00pm
  • May 13, Saturday, 8:30am to 3:00pm

Graduates of the course can take part in the optional free mentoring sessions on most weeks from late May to early August. You can register for the course at

Topics covered include:

  1. Urban beekeeping regulations
  2. Location choices and Equipment
  3. Installing bees and queens
  4. What to check inside of a hive
  5. Swarm prevention/creating extra queens
  6. Basic Bee Biology
  7. Mentoring opportunities
  8. Wintering and Treatments
  9. 12 pages of information is provided to go along with slides (powerpoint) presented in class.

 You can register for the course at

Along with an EDBA membership, you are sure to learn enough to be a very responsible beekeeper and attending the mentoring sessions will give you the confidence needed.

Swarms in 2019

The amount of swarms to catch this year has been very high! During its peak as many as 10 swarms reported a day. There has been so much rain that it’s even been hard for beekeepers to get to their beeyards on muddy roads. That and the strong honey flows have made for a very different year.

Our Swarm Catchers List is up to date and these brave volunteers will do their best to help find homes for all the swarms. A straight-forward swarm catch, by putting them in a box from a low spot on a tree, can take an hour. Be warned that catching a swarm from very high locations or inside of a wall can take many days and might cost money.

Swarm Cather List

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

Bee swarm? Is it Honey Bees?

Bee swarm? Is it Honey Bees?

A swarm of honey bees numbers at least 10,000 bees and usually arrives on a 25C day with no warning ( late May to mid August ) and for apparently no reason to a tree branch, a fence post, the side of a house/ shed etc. and just sits there for a few days and then disappears ( like you staying in a motel overnight on a long trip ). Sometimes they like the temporary place so they stay or the queen has been injured or dies and they don’t know where to go as they mourn her loss.

But most people don’t call about a honey bee swarm ; they call an exterminator about wasps or if there is a noticeable group ( 10-20 golden/black furry bees ) in the backyard, under the steps, or they have overtaken a bird house. These are usually bumble bees. Check photos about them on the internet and get a dead sample to compare or take to a pest exterminator. They only sting if their nest is removed.

They take over bird houses because the birds are annoyed by the buildup of lice and mites and abandon it. Clean up the bird house with bleach every year ? If you want birds back next year.

Choices with bumble bees

1 coexist

– just put a barrier, eg. board, between where you walk and their entrance.

In August their population will peak at about 80. Their nest is about as big as a baseball. They have no
excess honey. In October there is only one left, a queen. This is a good time to remove the nest.

Bumble bees love to nest in old insulation, old clothing left in garages, or the basement level electrical
sockets or sometimes in piles of wood left around. Tidy up. Bumble bees keep wasps away.

2 removal choices

At 10:30 pm dress up carefully to minimize stinging, or at 7am when almost all are inside.
Put duct tape over bird house entrance, take down birdhouse, and take nest to park or near a river.
Remove duct tape, shake them out or just leave them, or put birdhouse in part of yard away from people areas until October.

Or put the nest in a garbage bag and take it away.

3 kill them?

Study up methods on the internet and or put duct tap over holes they go in.

Malcolm Connell ( 780-239- 9649c )

PS – Remember beekeepers are very busy in spring and summer and will charge at least $60 to remove a nest which you could learn to do yourself. If a nest is removed, some bees will still be buzzing around there for a week after until they relocate.

For additional help, call John Jansen Nature Centre 780-442- 1443