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How to catch a swarm

 
Joel Hollingsworth
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A good video on how to catch swarming bees. It seems like a very simple and gentle process, once you have the right equipment on hand.

http://www.youtube.com/v/ChsoSwIxcwM

I really like the group that produced this. They are practicing many of the same strategies as the beekeeper in Paul's video on colony collapse disorder.
 
              
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I catch swarms all the time. When swarming bees are the safest to handle as they have no nest or brood to protect. I use a cardboard box if that is all I have, or I use a mini version of one of my Kenyan Top Bar Hives with say 10-12 bars on it.

Just knock the bees in, slowly put on the bars or close most of the cardboard box lid and then slowly walk away through the cloud of bees. In a few hours they will be in with a few fanning nest scent outside to attract other bees still flying around. Just before the sun goes down, plug up the Top Bar Hive hole with a cork or close the cardboard box, and put in car and drive home.

Don't be afraid of bee swarms!

Cheers,
Peter
 
Rob Sigg
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I imagine it is unlikely that they will find a hive if you put one out? I know its impossible to maintain purity with these guys, but how can you improve your chances of getting healthy bees that werent into GM crops and pesticides?
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Rob S. aka Blitz wrote:
I imagine it is unlikely that they will find a hive if you put one out? I know its impossible to maintain purity with these guys, but how can you improve your chances of getting healthy bees that werent into GM crops and pesticides?


I don't think it's too unlikely.

Bees that have been working in pesticide-contaminated conditions will tend to be less healthy as a colony.

Sending out a swarm is a tremendous investment, and so unhealthy colonies are much less likely to do so. Merely looking for a colony that has swarmed is a powerful selector for healthy bees.

Also, as others have noted, a queen that has swarmed tends to be healthier: lifespan of a queen after swarming might be much longer than the typical lifespan of a queen who never is able to swarm.
 
tel jetson
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Rob S. aka Blitz wrote:
I imagine it is unlikely that they will find a hive if you put one out? I know its impossible to maintain purity with these guys, but how can you improve your chances of getting healthy bees that werent into GM crops and pesticides?


my understanding is that swarms prefer to set up shop where other bees have been before.  used, but clean and uncontaminated, hives are a good option.  if a new hive is all that's available, I believe there are ways to make it seem like bees have been there before.  using some top bars from another hive with a bit of wax or propolis still on them, for example, or placing some lemongrass essential oil in the new hive (I think it was lemongrass, but that could be all wrong).

my experience with swarms has been really rewarding.  Jacqueline mentioned that they don't seem to like brushes so she uses a feather.  I didn't have a feather around, so I used a branch from a pine tree the bees had been hanging around in.  the retired beekeeper that stopped by to help was entirely suited up, but I didn't have any suit so I didn't use one.  got stung once when I put my hand on a bee I didn't see sitting on the ladder.  I didn't use any sugar water, like the chap in the video recommends, but that could be a good idea as the swarm I moved was prone to scatter when I got involved.  I don't think feeding sugar water is a good idea, but a one-time application for this purpose would probably be alright.

in the future, I'm going to try to have empty hives around before swarm season in the hope that swarms will set up shop there without any further intervention from me.  that's how we got our first colony entirely on accident, so I know it can work even if it isn't guaranteed to.
 
Rob Sigg
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Thanks, that is great info!
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Heidi Bohan, author of People of Cascadia, just posted videos of her hive swarming, then a second video of how they landed on a tree (technical glitch with that second video - I'll post it later if I can).

Here's the first swarm video:


In the video, she laments that she didn't have her second hive set up, but in a FaceBook post, Heidi said she got her hive set up and was able to move the swarm into it.

Pretty cool.
 
paul wheaton
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It is a very good thing tho rub Melisa Oficinalis on the box you are putting the bees in, it will help with stress and they will sooner get more comfortable in their new home.
 
Carlos Romero
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paul wheaton
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Ludger Merkens
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Peter D wrote:I catch swarms all the time. When swarming bees are the safest to handle as they have no nest or brood to protect. I use a cardboard box if that is all I have, or I use a mini version of one of my Kenyan Top Bar Hives with say 10-12 bars on it.

Just knock the bees in, slowly put on the bars or close most of the cardboard box lid and then slowly walk away through the cloud of bees. In a few hours they will be in with a few fanning nest scent outside to attract other bees still flying around. Just before the sun goes down, plug up the Top Bar Hive hole with a cork or close the cardboard box, and put in car and drive home.

Don't be afraid of bee swarms!

Cheers,
Peter


well, there is not much to add to this description. But the described behaviour will only show, if the queen is in the box. So make sure, you get her. Otherwise the swarm will leave again.

 
tel jetson
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already posted this elsewhere, but as long as we're collecting swarm videos...

 
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