As I have put my bees "to bed" and we are entering winter I am already thinking about this Spring. Every year I collect my apiary's swarm and regularly chase calls. I have recently retired and now will have considerable more time to spend with my bees,(if my wife lets me )
I usually grabbed what I thought I would need and go, but this Spring I would like to get a bit more serious about the specific tools and equipment I would need to answer just about any normal swarm call. My vision is that I would put it all in the back of my pickup, go and come back with the swarm in one trip. In the past because of my specific lack of planning, organizing, and the small time frame to work with getting out to the swarm- I have actually made several trips for one swarm collection more then once. So I would like to start a list of equipment and share everything I can think of to bring on a swarm run. Please suggest more things I might add that might come in handy for collecting swarms-
Card board box, Nuc, deep box with frames, 5 gallon pail and lid
Ladder,(telescoping and step)
Rope, bee suit, smoker, pruning shears and loppers,(large pruning shears), large cloth sheet, bee vacuum, telescoping pole with attachments,(saw, pruning shear, 5 gallon pail)
I have even seen one of those 5 gallon water jugs with the bottom cut off mounted on a pole by the neck opening.
If this subject has already been posted, please help me find it on the forum. If it has been discussed earlier it's easier to continue the original post then start a whole new one.
Another thing I could use some help on is finding out over the phone that it is really an actual honeybee swarm and not a hornet or wasp nest when the swarm call comes in. I think we have all got those calls that the caller swears up and down it's honeybees and when we get out there it's a wasp or hornet nest.
my swarm kit is usually pretty simple: a couple of buckets, a couple of turkey feathers, a ladder or two, my hand shears, loppers, and a pruning saw. but I've been caught short a couple of times when the swarms were much larger than I was prepared for. fortunately, the property owners in both instances had large cardboard boxes that I stabbed holes in for ventilation. a purpose built swarm box has been on my to-do list for a long time.
Ernie Schmidt wrote:Another thing I could use some help on is finding out over the phone that it is really an actual honeybee swarm and not a hornet or wasp nest when the swarm call comes in. I think we have all got those calls that the caller swears up and down it's honeybees and when we get out there it's a wasp or hornet nest.
a perennial problem, but not so much with swarm calls for me. more often it's been folks calling to request a cutout that actually have yellow-jackets or wasps. swarms are generally easier to identify. in any event, I've told folks over the phone that I charge $20 for the trip if it turns out to not be honey bees. asking for photos might be a good option, too.
One of the first question I ask callers is if they see any yellow. If the answer is yes most likely they are not bees. I then ask then to describe where the bees are living, I get a lot of I don't know because it is yellow jackets under ground, bees pollinating or collecting water or propolis, or lots of other wild goose chases. Cell phone cameras are great help but if the person is too afraid to get that close I let them know I would be happy to come out but I have a minimum service charge. If it turns out not to be bees I then spend time doing education, giving honey and finding someone to help them. I help them feel like they got their monies worth and pay for my gas. Each area what you can charge will depend on competition and what people are willing to pay.
I put my tools in a 5 gallon galvanized smoker pail, including knife, rubber bands, hive tool, flashlight, lighter, smoker fuel, swarm commander and bee robber (in little squeeze bottles in seperate closed containers). Bee Jacket, gloves and a nuc or two. I bring a few other things but that is my must have list.
For big jobs I bring my truck but I am trying to do more on my motorcycle. Below is a picture of my bee removal truck after I loaded it up with one of my clients equipment for winter storage.