Swarm season can be an exciting time of year if you are adept at catching bees. We’ve seen and captured a lot of swarms over the years… some with quite a bit of effort… and some with unsatisfactory results. So far this year, we have had the easiest time yet. Here are three different 2015 stories and we are only one week into swarm season!
Last year, after simultaneously getting konked on the head with a pair of limb clippers while jumping off of a 6 foot stepladder and getting rained on by angry bees, I was determined to find a better way of catching swarms. With some research I found that bees swarm first and make a game plan second. Seems a little risky to me, but that’s what they do. Once they cluster on a branch they send scouts to find a suitable home. These scouts measure the volume of a potential place and report back to the cluster. They like the volume to be close to that of a brood chamber, which is the large wooden box at the bottom of a Langstroth hive. See this post for hive components. Besides measuring for volume, they tend to like places that are about 6 feet off the ground and at the edge of a wooded area. Facing a meadow or open area is a nice touch as is an aroma of lemongrass oil. (I’m not kidding) They also like the potential nesting place to be dark, so a solid bottom board is a must. They also prefer to make their honeycomb on a 45 degree angle, so placing an older frame with comb on it in the box on an angle is attractive to them. I put a reducer at the entrance too, so the bees can be sure they can defend themselves once they move in.
So, with this new knowledge, I put up a bait hive with the aforementioned parameters this Spring. Our very first swarm was spotted about 30 feet in the air on a pine branch, so there was no way we could have reached it without a bucket truck. I watched it all day… READ MORE HERE