The One That Got Away...and the One That Didn't

By | April 27, 2012

It’s swarm season. Almost. We’re not quite there, but adventurous and successful hives have felt the warm days and decided to give it a go anyway. I’ve had two calls as well as a second year beekeeper calling for assistance after finding half a dozen swarm cells in her hives.

The first of the two calls came on April 16th. The bees were down near Lancaster in a backyard tree. I drove down over lunch and sure enough, a nice big swarm about 15 feet up in a tree. Luckily I had seen this video on youtube

so I had my jug on a stick all ready to go.  The jug worked great, and I was able to nab the bees with one go while standing on the ground.  Dumped into a hive, closed them up but with an entrance, and left them to find their home with the plan of coming back later that evening to collect them once things had calmed down.  I came back around 7:45 that night to find an empty box.  Apparently better digs were found and everyone decided my box wasn’t the place to be.  Here’s a picture of them all nice and clustered when I first showed up.

The second swarm call was one in passing from a fellow beekeeper.  She had just extracted a colony from a tree, and an unrelated swarm had since landed in a neighboring tree.  They were very high up, about 30ft up, and had been in the tree for a couple of days.  So again I grabbed the jug on a pole and luckily my friend had a 10 foot step ladder that she was able to bring or I’d have never nabbed them.  The bucket did ok for these bees, but many were left in the tree.  I was really concerned that the queen was left up in the tree and they’d all return there.  Again I came back around 7:45 but low and behold they were all cozy in my hive.  I slid the lid over, strapped them, and brought them home.  Here’s a shot of these.  Don’t let the perspective and zoom fool you.  This swarm was very high.

The weather has turned very cool and so I have yet to even inspect or see the queen in this swarm.  I’m looking forward to it and will post her picture when I can.

So do I think I should “trap” them inside a box when I get them to ensure they don’t leave?  Nah.  I put the second swarm in two boxes vs one, and I think that probably helped.  One 8-frame medium just isn’t enough room for a big swarm.  A small swarm or a package yes, but a primary swarm from a big hive just needs more room even when starting.

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